Ebeniste is the French word for a cabinet-maker. The term originated from the use of ebony as a veneer by 17th century French furniture makers. The object shown here is an exquisite box in the style of the French ebeniste Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), who is considered to be the preeminent artist in the field of marquetry. His fame in this regard led to his name being given to the fashion he perfected of inlaying brass and tortoiseshell, known as Boulle (or, in 19th century Britain, “Buhl” work). Boulle spent so lavishly on artwork and antiques that he died penniless.

The box here was one of the top lots at Doyle New York's Belle Epoque Auction, held June 8th in New York City. It sold for $16,250, following strong trans-Atlantic competition and far surpassing its estimate of $800-$1,200. The box was elaborately decorated with a depiction of Venus in a chariot, being pulled by swans and attended by cupids beneath a baldequin, and with gilt metal mounts. From the mid-17th century through the 18th, a notable number of ébénistes of German and Low Countries extraction were pre-eminent among Parisian furniture-makers.