years of age at the time ; but, it seems hardly necessary to say that, though still a young man, he had even then excelled in his profession and craft, for he would not have been the recipient of so notable a mark of royal approbation had he been nothing more than an average designer or craftsman. When the application for the bestowal of the honour was made by him, or on his behalf by eminent patrons who fully appreciated his genius, Colbert submitted it to the king; but the settlement of the matter was left practically in the hands of the minister, for, on the document presented to his Majesty, bearing a note of the application, appears the inscription in the royal handwriting—" Les appartements au plus habile."
Colbert was not the type of man to let the appartements pass into the possession of mere place-seekers, and it may be taken for granted that had anyone been able to present stronger claims than those of Boulle they would have been considered first. It was ever the great Intendants aim to secure, at any cost, the right man for the right place, and it may be recorded to his lasting credit that he almost invariably managed to attain his object.
It is generally imagined that Boulle was the originator of, and confined his attention to the production of, that class of furniture which is enriched by the incrustation of tortoise-shell, brass, copper, and tin in the form of inlay, and which has come to bear his name—though it is, more often than not, sPelt "Buhl" by most English writers; but that idea is very far from correct. In the first place, inlaid, or incrusted, furniture of the description referred to was known long before 1672, for, to quote but two instances that go to prove ^s prior existence, an inventory of some of Mazarin's treasures, dated 1653, includes details of cabinets ornamented with tortoiseshell and copper; and secondly, a cabinet in the Musie Cluny, at Paris, dating from the sixteenth century, is similarly enriched. These show beyond a doubt that metal
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