French Writing DesksFrench writing desks can add aesthetic distinction to your home office whether they be genuine antiques or recreations of the traditional styles. French desks hold elegance and adornment in high esteem but still leave room for function. One of the most elaborate French writing desks is found in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. From 1685 it was a writing desk for King Louis XIV. It boasts a tortoise shell veneer, engraved brass, ebony and rosewood.
Modern French writing desks still employ the old traditional designs; these include the Bonheur du jour, bureau a gradin, bureau Mazarin, the escritoire and the liseuse. Bonheur du jour translates into happiness of the day. It was a female writing desk of the mid 18th century. It is made of lightweight wood featuring an arched back with small drawers enclosed in a flap. The writing surface is a small platform over a single drawer. The desk was often topped with decorative brass or ormolu, a brass alloy that looks like actual gold.
The bureau a gradin was a flat desk with a bank of drawers resting atop a pullout writing surface. They feature good storage space with an enclosure.
The bureau Mazarin was a knee hole desk mounted on legs and is likely the predecessor to the pedestal desks of Britain and American design.
The escritoire holds a certain romanticized charm in the world of writing desks. It was a secretary desk with either a lockable sloped or hinged top lid. The desk was either portable or free standing. The romantic appeal came from the fact that these were often designed with secret drawers and compartments, requiring a second key to unlock. Beyond the mystique of who’s diary or will was stashed in a forgotten hidden compartment the smaller versions became popular with travelers, teachers and military officers as a portable lap desk.
The liseuse is a medium sized writing table with the unique feature of a small hinged panel that can be propped up at various angles desirable for reading or writing on a slanted surface.
Many other forms of French writing desks can be found either as antiques or reproductions. With the multitude of styles it might be hard to find a French writing desk that doesn’t suit your tastes.