Bonheur du jour, noun

Bonheur du jour

Bonheur du jour looks like it should be French for “have a nice day,” and the literal translation isn’t far off, but it’s a delicate writing table having a raised back of shelves or a cabinet, on slender legs. The origin, not surprisingly, is French. The item pictured here is an early 20th century French XV-style ormolu mounted bowfront marble-top bonheur du jour, featuring a brass galleried marble top center bank of two drawers, over a pull-out baize inset writing slide, above a frieze drawer on ormolu mounted cabriole legs with ormolu sabots, 38 inches tall.

The piece was lot #1048 in Crescent City Auction Galleries’ Major Spring Estates Auction, held March 11-12, online and at the firm’s showroom in New Orleans, La. It was estimated to sell for $800-$1,200 and in the end settled within range, gaveling for $875. Bonheur du jour literally translates to “daytime delight” and was first introduced in Paris by one of the interior decorators and purveyors of fashionable novelties (called marchands-merciers) around 1760. The bonheur du jour, always light and graceful, quickly became extremely fashionable in France.