This extremely rare work is one of the very few pieces of furniture commissioned for Louis XIV’s use at Versailles. The folding-top desk, delivered in 1685, is made of oak and veneered with ebony and Brazilian rosewood. It is the work of Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt, the king’s ordinary cabinetmaker, and designer Jean Bérain the Elder, whose lively arabesques are particularly recognizable.
It would seem, however, that the rich scrolls were not quite to the taste of Louis XV, who had the desk sold in 1751. It next surfaced in England in the 19th century, among the collections of the Baron de Rothschild, as a slant-top secretary desk.
This prestigious piece of furniture must therefore be restored to its original form before being presented to the public. A scientific committee has been created for this purpose, whose members include Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, Chief Curator responsible for Sculpture and European Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, where an almost identical desk is kept in its original 17th century condition.
After being restored, the desk will at long last return to Versailles and be displayed in the Abundance Salon, adjoining the Medals Room and not far from the private chamber behind the Hall of Mirrors, the Cabinet where the King would write, and for which the desk had been originally commissioned.
AXA is proud to contribute to enhancing the collections of the Public Establishment of Versailles. AXA, the only corporate partner in the transaction, was joined by the Société des Amis du Château de Versailles in acquiring this desk for the Public Establishment of Versailles. It is an immense source of satisfaction for AXA to be returning this exceptional work, which perfect illustrates late 17th century cabinetmaking, to the setting for which it was originally destined.