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Major exhibition

The collection of the Condé Museum in Chantilly features two desks by one of the greatest French cabinetmakers of all time, André-Charles Boulle. From June to October 2024, the Large Suites of the Princes of Condé at the Château de Chantilly will host the first-ever exhibition in France to explore his life and work.

The show will bring together this ingenious designer’s most significant pieces, commissioned by the most illustrious patrons in France – the King, the Grand Dauphin, the Prince of Condé, and the Duchess of Burgundy – in a celebration of French furniture-making excellence, its techniques and unrivalled grace. The life and long career of André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) need little introduction. Cabinetmaker, artist and artisan, Boulle worked for the Bâtiments du roi, the department of the King’s Household responsible for building works, for more than half a century, and he and his workshop produced pieces for the Royal Family and the French nobility. He achieved high technical perfection, particularly in metal-and-tortoiseshell marquetry, which he raised to new heights.

An ingenious bronzesmith, he established the use of gilt-bronze in furniture and gave his creations a unique look. He was also a curious collector and a talented draughtsman who took pains to bring his production to a broader audience, notably through engravings. Synonymous with the sumptuousness of French art under Louis XIV, he achieved recognition in his lifetime, and his name has been celebrated ever since.

André-Charles Boulle was a leading figure in the development of French furniture in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Besides the commode, one of his most influential designs at the end of Louis XIV’s reign was the flat-topped writing table (bureau plat). Besides producing desks on six legs and desks with several drawers on each side supported by eight legs, Boulle invented a new type of desk, with a single row of three drawers in the frieze, resting on four legs. This flat writing table made his reputation, and brass-and-tortoiseshell marquetry, rich gilt-bronze mounts, and slender, curved shapes became the hallmark of elegance in furniture and the ultimate symbol of power. They were produced in increasingly large numbers from the second decade of the eighteenth century until the early years of the Régence. The innovations made by Boulle defined the shape of the French writing table for more than half a century.


Writing table of the Prince of Condé, long-term lease from the Château de Versailles to the Condé Museum © RMN-Grand Palais / A Didierjean


The exhibition charts developments in desk design, shape and decoration through a large and varied display of desks by Boulle, each with a long-established provenance. Furniture with “part” and “counterpart” marquetry is presented side by side in a way that reveals their beauty and helps visitors learn more about them. Key pieces produced by the same workshop will complete this fascinating survey and put this unparalleled production into its broader context. Bookcases, consoles, stands, torchères, caskets, chandeliers, medal cabinets and bookbindings, all of illustrious provenance, remind us of this ingenious artist’s versatile talent and creativity.


Mathieu Deldicque, Lead Heritage Conservator, Director of the Condé museum

In collaboration with Sébastien Evain, conservator and independent expert, a specialist in French 18th-century furniture and objets d’art, and William Iselin, an expert in French 18th-century furniture and objets d’art. In partnership with the Château de Versailles, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte and the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Thanks to

We would like to thank The Al Thani Collection Foundation, The Friends of the Domaine de Chantilly, Richard Mille, Sotheby’s, Galerie Steinitz, Galerie Kugel, Franky Mulliez, Sophie and Christopher North and Giles Ellwood and Philippe Sacerdot for their support.


The exhibition catalogue was made possible with the support of Daniel Thierry.

With support of

Useful information

Location: The large suites at the château


Exhibition included in the 1 Day ticket