The Bombé chest, sometimes incorrectly called a Bombay chest due to their similar pronunciation, is a design that originated during the French Regency period following the death of King Louis XIV in 1715. In French, the word Bombé literally means the bulging outward of something, a description that describes these pieces perfectly. The typical Bombé chest features curving panels that are swollen outward with smooth, rounded lines, large drawers, and a finely finished surface. The Bombé chest can also serve as the foundation for a larger piece.
As they originated around the same time that Chinoiserie gained influence in France, many early Bombé chests featured lacquered finishes and Chinese-inspired paintings. Fine veneers, marquetry, and inlays were also popular forms of decoration during this period. The Bombé chest’s popularity continued under the reign of Louis XV and some of the finer examples featured a multi-layered varnish in deep hues contrasted with inlays of mother of pearl and ivory.
The design continues to be popular despite it’s age. They offer excellent versatility due to their compact size and ample storage space. Their utility matched by their aesthetic charm and a Bombé chest with its elegant proportions and graceful lines, will bring a distinct character to any room.