Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850
Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850

Antique French Kingwood Bureau de Dame c.1850

c. 1850 France

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This is a gorgeous French Bureau de Dame / Bonheur du Jour, or Ladies Writing Desk and it is Circa 1850 in date.

It is made from kingwood with hand painted Sevres porcelain plaques and exquisite ormolu mounts, it is an example of superb quality and design.

The gorgeous grain and colour of the kingwood, the fabulous ormolu mounts and the hand painted Sevres porcelain plaques ensure that this bureau de dame will get noticed wherever it is placed.

The three doors on top open to reveal two shelves in each cupboard. There is a mirror in the central door so this item would also be ideal to be used as a superb dressing table. There is a small drawer below each side door and these drawers are automatically locked when the fall is closed.

The fall opens to reveal the original burgundy leather with gold tooled and embossed edge detail. The leather has some light wear to the surface but is in very good condition for age and does not require replacing. There are four useful drawers to store your pens, papers, etc.

There is a large central drawer flanked by two pedestals. Each pedestal has four useful drawers. The top drawer in each pedestal will automatically lock all the other drawers when it is closed.

The escutcheons are original as are all the fabulous ormolu mounts - crisply cast and gilded bronze in excellent original condition. The locks are original and there are the original working keys.

It is an absolutely exquisite model which is exceptionally rare to come across.

In really excellent condition, please see photos for confirmation of condition.

Dimensions in cm:

Height 175 x Width 109 x Depth 57

Dimensions in inches:

Height 68.9 x Width 42.9 x Depth 22.4
A bonheur du jour (in French, bonheur-du-jour, meaning "daytime delight") is a type of lady's writing desk. It was introduced in Paris by one of the interior decorators and purveyors of fashionable novelties called marchands-merciers about 1760, and speedily became intensely fashionable.

The bonheur du jour is always very light and graceful, with a decorated back, since it often did not stand against the wall but was moved about the room. Its special characteristic is a raised back, which may form a little cabinet or a nest of drawers, or open shelves, which might be closed with atambour may simply be fitted with a mirror. The top, often surrounded with a chased and gilded bronze gallery, serves for placing small ornaments. Beneath the writing surface there is usually a single drawer, often neatly fitted for toiletries or writing supplies.

Early examples were raised on slender cabriole legs; under the influence of neoclassicism, examples made after about 1775 had straight, tapering legs. The marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirierhad had the idea of mounting bonheurs du jour with specially-made plaques of Sèvres porcelainthat that he commissioned and for which he had a monopoly; the earliest Sèvres-mounted bonheur du jours are datable from the marks under their plaques to 1766-67. The choicer examples of the time are inlaid with marquetry or panels of Oriental lacquer, banded with exotic woods, with gilt-bronze mounts.

By the mid-1770s the bonheur du jour was being made in London, where it was simply called a "lady's writing-desk".

Kingwood - has a defined grain with darker brown and black patterned outlines contrasting against a lighter background. A native wood of Brazil, Kingwood was a popular choice for late Georgian, William IV and early Victorian boxes, but seemed to lose favour from the late 1850′s onwards. It is very often confused with rosewood.

Sevres Porcelain traces its roots in France to early craftsmen who had small manufacturing operations in such places as Lille, Rouen. St. Cloud, and most notably Chantilly. It is from Chantilly that a cadre of workers migrated to the Chateau de Vincennes near Paris to form a larger porcelain manufactory in 1738.

French King Louis XV, perhaps inspired by his rumoured relationship with mistress Madame de Pompadour, took an intense interest in porcelain and moved the operation in 1756 to even larger quarters in the Paris suburb of Sevres. Sevres was also conveniently near the home of Madame de Pompadour and the King's own Palace at Versailles.
From the outset the king's clear aim was to produce Sevres Porcelain that surpassed the established Saxony works of Meissen and Dresden. Though the French lacked an ample supply of kaolin, a required ingredient for hard-paste porcelain (pate dure), their soft-paste porcelain (pate tendre) was fired at a lower temperature and was thus compatible with a wider variety of colours and glazes that in many cases were also richer and more vivid. Unglazed white Sevres Porcelain "biscuit" figurines were also a great success. However, soft-paste Sevres Porcelain was more easily broken. Therefore, early pieces of Sevres Porcelain that remain intact have become rare indeed.

The Sevres Porcelain manufactory always seemed to be in dire financial straits despite the incredibly fine works it produced. In fact, the king's insistence that only the finest items be created may have contributed to the difficulties. Only a limited number of European nobility could afford the extravagant prices demanded for such works. King Louis XV and eventually his heir, the ill-fated Louis XVI, were obliged to invest heavily in the enterprise. Ultimately, the Sevres Porcelain Factory produced items under the name of "Royal" and thus the well-known Sevres mark was born. King Louis XV even mandated laws that severely restricted other porcelain production in France so as to retain a near monopoly for his Sevres Porcelain. The king even willingly became chief salesman for the finest of his products, hosting an annual New Year's Day showing for French nobility in his private quarters at Versailles. He eagerly circulated among potential buyers, pitching the merits of ownership and policing the occasional light-fingered guest.
Sevres Porcelain may have indeed given the makers of Meissen and Dresden a run for their money by the end of the 18th Century but for the French Revolution. By 1800, the Sevres Porcelain Works were practically out of business due to the economic devastation of the new French Republic.

About the time when Napoleon Bonaparte named himself Emperor of France (1804), a new director was named for the Sevres Porcelain Manufactory. Alexandre Brongniart, highly educated in many fields, resurrected Sevres Porcelain. Soft-paste porcelain was eliminated altogether thanks to the earlier discovery of kaolin near Limoges. For four decades until his death, Brongniart presided over monumental progress for Sevres Porcelain, catering not only to Napoleon himself, but at last to include the more financially profitable mid-priced market in the emerging middle class.

Ormolu (from French 'or moulu', signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze.The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold-coloured veneer known as 'gilt bronze'.

The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object.

No true ormolu was produced in France after around 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury. Therefore, other techniques were used instead but nothing surpasses the original mercury-firing ormolu method for sheer beauty and richness of colour. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt (also known as vermeil).
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