This superb mechanical desk by famed French ébéniste Alfred Emmanuel Louis Beurdeley is both an artistic and engineering achievement. Adorned on the top and all sides with classical inlays of muses and putti studying astronomy and the arts, this elegant table is also decorated with cast gilt bronze, from the simple edging around the top and bold acanthus mounts on the corners and friezes, to the laurel leaf panels on the legs and caps on the ball feet.
With a special turn of a key, the center panel emerges from the desk's interior, revealing the table's hidden, beautifully constructed second nature. This hidden drawer is comprised of three sections, each with its own expertly inlaid surface. With a pull of a bar located underneath, these latched sections are released. The two side sections unfold outward to reveal two large storage spaces and four small drawers with gilt bronze laurel leaf pulls. The center section rises at an angle for reading or writing. Adjustment of the bar underside locks it in place, and the velvet -ined inset holds a mirror on its reverse side.
A Parisian cabinetmaker, from a family of ébénistes, antique dealers and collectors who specialized in the manufacture of luxurious French furnishings, Beurdeley created extraordinary works which earned him a Gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition Universelle of 1889. He was much admired for his 19th-century interpretations of Louis XV designs and this incredible desk is a stunning example of his expert vision and ability.
,br>A similar table is featured in 19th-Century European Furniture by Christopher Payne, page 54.
42 ¾” wide x 24 ½” deep (closed) x 29 ¾” high
After working alongside his father for many years, Alfred Beurdeley became the successor to his family’s prosperous furniture manufacturing enterprise in 1875. The company specialized in high-quality, 18th-century revivals and his extravagant style captured the attention of wealthy Parisians eager to decorate their estates with rare and important Louis XV and Louis XIV-style furnishings. Beurdeley exhibited his works at the International Exposition of 1878, the Amsterdam Exposition of 1893, after which he was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889. Shortly after obtaining the prestigious honor of the Gold Medal in Paris, Beurdeley closed his shop in 1895, sold his famous collection, and spent the remainder of his life in seclusion. In the short span of 20 years, Beurdeley made an indelible mark on the history of 19th-century French furnishings, for his creations remain among the finest of the period.