Bureau Mazarin

From Academic Kids

The bureau Mazarin is a 17th century desk form named more or less in memory of Cardinal Mazarin, regent of France from 1642 to 1661. It is the earliest predecessor of the pedestal desk and differs from it by having only two tiers of drawers or three tiers of rather small drawers under the desktop surface, followed by eight legs supporting the whole. Also, the bureau Mazarin has cross braces between the legs, forming two Xs or two Hs on each side.

Missing image
Bureau_Mazarinfrontjpeg20031224.jpg
bureau Mazarin (front view)

Many bureaux Mazarin are kneehole desks, in that they are meant to be used sideways, with one knee only beneath the work surface. They were designed in an age where only the nobility or those who followed its customs closely, could afford to have such desks made. Members of the nobility often wore a ceremonial or practical sword, which was forever in the way. It was thus easier to use a desk sideways, with only one knee under it. The rest of the space next to the knee often served as a lockable storage space.

bureau Mazarin (side view)

As was often the case with many desks of the period, some bureaux Mazarin were used as dressing tables instead of serving as desks, or were used for both functions.

Most of them were built in an ornate style which looks like a nightmare to keep clean. As with the Kunstschrank of the lands of Holy Roman Empire, the desk was sometimes more of a status symbol than a useful piece of furniture.

Note that the very rough images drawn up originally to illustrate this article show none of the extremely ornate decorations frequently applied to the front and sides of such a bureau. They were meant only to give an idea of the form.


See also the List of desk forms and types.

References


  • De Reyniès, Nicole. Le Mobilier Domestique: Vocabulaire Typologieque. Paris: Ministère de la Culture et de La Communication, 1987.
  • Payne, Christopher, ed.. Sotheby's Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture. London: Conran Octopus, 1989.
  • Romand, Didier. L'argus des meubles. Paris: Balland, 1976.
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