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Ottoman calligrapher’s box

Turkey, late 17th century

Wood, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, ivory and bone

H. 13.5 cm. L. 33.5 cm. W. 14.7 cm

Provenance : Louis François, Marquis de Monteynard (La Pierre, Isère 1713-Paris 1791)


Louis François, Marquis de Monteynard was a French soldier and statesman who participated in all of Louis XV’s major campaigns, and was made Lieutenant General in 1759. He was the creator of the cavalry school of Saumur which gave birth after the Revolution to the famous “Cadre Noir”, and also became the first governor general of Corsica. In 1771, he replaced the Duc de Choiseul as the Secretary of State for War until 1774. In the three years of his ministry, he called for many improvements in the soldiers’ lives, and was cited as an example in Voltaire’s dictionary of philosophy.

Mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell marquetry work was greatly appreciated by the Ottoman court from the end of the sixteenth century and this decoration technique was elegantly used to ornament the walls of the Baghdad pavilion at Topkapi, a building commissioned by Murad IV in 1639 and completed in 1640 under the reign of sultan Ibrahim.