Andre-Charles Boulle

(11 November 1642 – 28 February 1732)


André Charles Boulle, a French cabinetmaker, the master of a distinctive style of furniture, much imitated, for which his name has become a synonym for the practice of veneering furniture with marquetry of tortoiseshell, pewter, and inlaid with arabesques of gilded brass.

Although he did not invent the technique, Boulle was its greatest practitioner and lent his name to its common name: boulle work. André was awarded the title of master cabinetmaker before 1666. In 1672 he was admitted to a group of skilled artists maintained by Louis XIV in the Louvre palace, and thereafter he devoted himself to creating costly furniture and objects of art for the king and court. That same year he also received a warrant signed by the Queen, giving him the added title of ‘bronzier’ as well as ‘ebeniste’. Boulle’s pieces, having in general the character of Louis XIV, specialized in the inlaying of ebony with precious woods and mother-of-pearl. Large areas were covered with tortoiseshell, inlaid with arabesques of gilded brass. He was born in 1642 and died in 1732.