Bonheur du jour

Paris, Louis XVI period, c. 1775
Stamped 'D.Deloose' and 'JME'

H. 93 cm (37.01 in.), w. 71 cm (27.56 in.), d. 42 cm (41.5 in.)


Rosewood, amaranth wood, satinwood, kingwood (bois de violette), holly, sycamore and various other stained woods; bronze, partly chased and fire gilded; brass, gilded

With its strictly geometrical formal idiom this piece of furniture embodies the style of Louis XVI. The elongated rectangular table has a large drawer in the front rail and a low raised back element that incorporates small drawers. The table rests on four straight tapering legs that end in smooth, angular block sabots. The top element is divided up vertically into three parts of the same dimensions; each of the two outer compartments has two drawers sans traverse, whereas the slightly recessed central part has a lower drawer with a large open compartment above it.
The drawer in the table is divided into a wider central compartment and two narrow side ones, which can be closed by a slider. Writing materials are inserted in the right-hand compartment. When opened, a lectern can be made by fixing a board above the central compartment.

The elaborate, highly detailed marquetry on all sides and on the top surface of the raised back element is particularly striking. The variety of precious woods, some of which are stained in different shades of green, produces a skilful play of colour with a cool elegance. The interesting combination of geometrical patterns with superimposed floral elements is augmented by lattice-work, thread and ribbon inlays.
The legs and edges of the piece are lent additional elegance by mounts of fire-gilt bronze and gilt brass, most of which are left smooth; finely chased acanthus leaves are used only at the top of the legs. The fronts to the drawers in the raised back are framed by a profiled bead. The writing surface is edged by a smooth polished bronze strip; the edge of the top surface is framed by a similar band. An a jour bronze trellis forms a gallery to the raised back.

Daniel De Loose, who came originally from Flanders, established himself in the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine in Paris, after having previously worked in the Rue Saint-Nicolas. In stylistic terms he worked in the style transition and the style of Louis XVI. His oeuvre includes larger pieces of furniture, such as commodes or writing tables, as well as numerous small pieces of furniture carried out with high-quality marquetry, mostly in the form of flowers, lattice-work, trophies, cube patterns or also landscapes. Examples of his work are to be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and in the Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (cf. Pierre Kjellberg, Le Mobilier français du XVIIIè Siècle, Dictionnaire des ébénistes et des menuisiers, Paris 1989, p. 241ff.).

The bonheur du jour ('daytime delight') is an small item of furniture that enjoyed particular popularity in the last third of the 18th century and was developed during the era of transition from the style of Louis XV to that of Louis XVI. Equipped with a writing surface, a raised back element containing drawers that could be locked, and sometimes with a lectern and mirror, the bonheur du jour served a number of different functions and could be used as a small writing desk, for reading at or as a toilette table. It was decorated on all sides, as it was generally moved around a room rather than standing against a wall and was kept in the lady’s private apartments, where it stood in the salon, bedroom or cabinet depending on how it was to be used. Variations on this small piece of furniture are to be found in the oeuvre of various important Parisian ébénistes, such as, for example, Roger Vandercruse Lacroix or Charles Topino (cf. Alexandre Pradère, Die Kunst des französischen Möbels. Munich 1990, p. 289, figs. 316 and 317).

REF No. 455