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Antique Tables - Item 3093
Louis XIII Bureau Table

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Item 3093 Louis XIII Bureau or Small Dining Table
Dimensions Width 42½, Height 29¼, Depth 31 (in inches)
(extends to approximately 74 inches)
Wood Walnut with inlay of maple and ebony
Country France
Date Circa 1840

This table brings to mind the origins of what the French call a bureau or desk; a term derived from bure, a high-quality cloth draped over tables used by the keepers of the accounts at large estates and intended to distinguish it from the homespun, coarse woolen cloth used by less prestigious functionaries.  From these modest beginnings, the word bureau took on a life of its own, and France gave the world such unflattering concepts as "bureaucrat" and "bureaucracy." By the early 17th century the term bureau had come to mean not only the reinforced cloth but also the table to which it was attached.  Such a table typically had drawers and was fixed atop balusters, the entire assembly being called a bureau.  Later in the 17th century, the bureau became more refined, with inlays, marketry and intricately carved torsades, while losing its cloth cover in favor of decorated wood.  This later style is championed in this table with intricate inlay on the top, the frieze, the stretcher, and the cube-shaped elements at the base of the torsades which are supported by bun feet.  The "X" shape of the stretcher is curved rather than straight, an innovation characteristic of the late 17th century design.  To make it more adaptable to modern uses, the table extends with walnut leaves pulling out from either side.  The top of the table has been refinished.  Both the top and the leaves are inlaid with alternating light and dark wood (maple or satinwood and ebony, respectively).  Because the extensions are not only finished but also inlaid, we can infer that this table was a commission from someone who intended to use it without a covering cloth and to enjoy fully the beauty of the woods.  As to the table's overall condition, it is excellent, most likely the result of the toughness of the solid walnut from which it was made.  The richness of the walnut and the depth of its color with the highly polished finish all combine to make this table a magnificent example of a classic design.


Boussel, Patrice, Les Styles du Moyen Age à Louis XIV  (Baschet et Cie, Paris, 1979); Quette, Anne-Marie, Le Mobilier Français Louis XIII et Louis XIV (Editions Massin, Paris, 1996); Rousseau, Francis, Le Grand Livre des Meubles (Copyright Studio, Paris, 1999)


This table is ideal for a number of uses, including as a desk or gaming table, behind a sofa, or as a small dining table in a kitchen.






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