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Work Bergère and four chairs

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism

Suite de quatre chaises et une bergère à la Reine

© 1965 RMN / Christian Jean

Decorative Arts
18th century: neoclassicism

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

This set of one bergère and four chairs comes from the Château de Montreuil at Versailles. The Château, which no longer exists, was the property of Madame Elisabeth, the sister of Louis XVI. These chairs, created by the cabinetmaker Jean-Baptiste Boulard and covered with petit point tapestry done by Madame Elisabeth herself, are representative of the sober style of Louis XVI furniture produced in the 1780s.

The Château de Montreuil

In May 1783, following the bankruptcy of the Prince and Princess of Guéméné, Louis XVI purchased Montreuil, the property they owned at Versailles, and handed it over to his sister Madame Elisabeth (1764-1794). This small château was bought along with its furniture. The princess would spend most of her day there, returning for the night to Versailles. When she was twenty-five, the king allowed her to reside at Montreuil the whole time. Starting in 1788, a grand project was launched under the direction of the architect Jean-Jacques Huvé (1742-1808) to transform the château. Work on the building was finished at the end of 1788, after which major orders of furniture were placed to complete the existing furnishings.

The grand transformation project of 1788

In December 1788, Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d'Avray (1732-1792), the Intendant General of the Royal Furniture Repository, approved the production of furniture for four bedchambers of the Château de Montreuil. These rooms, probably reserved for the women friends of Madame Elisabeth, were equipped each with a bed, two bergères, two firescreens and six chairs. The cabinetmaker Jean-Baptiste Boulard (1730-1789) designed twenty-four chairs and eight bergères, which had to fit the size of the petit point tapestries created by Madame Elisabeth. He himself did the woodcarving, while the painter-gilder Chatard was entrusted with painting the seats white and the upholsterer Capin with mounting the tapestries on the frames.

Chairs emblematic of the last years of the Louis XVI style

The set in the Musée du Louvre was received incomplete, the other pieces that went with the bergère and the four chairs having been sold separately during the auctioning of the furniture from Montreuil in 1793. The Louvre owns another suite from Montreuil (OA 9972-9979), also covered with petit point tapestry by Madame Elisabeth, but intended for the ground floor of the château. The overall design of these chairs, with its straight lines, is elegant and sober. The fluted, tapering legs support a rectilinear seat rail, simply adorned with molding. The chair brackets are decorated with rosettes, an ornemental solution often found on cabinet furniture of the Louis XVI period. Placed on the front of the chair, the brackets follow the curve formed at the angle between the front legs and the seat rail. Typical of Boulard's work, this technique softens the appearance of the chairs. The tapestry created by Madame Elisabeth matches perfectly the elegance of the frames with its slanting chevron motif and its friezes of flowers.

Bibliography

Pallot Bill G. B., Le Mobilier du musée du Louvre. Tome 2. Sièges et consoles (menuiserie) XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Dijon, Faton, 1993, p. 174-175.

Technical description

  • Jean-Baptiste BOULARD

    Suite de quatre chaises et une bergère à la Reine

    1788 ou 1789

    Paris

  • Hêtre peint en blanc

    Bergère : H. : 96 cm. ; L. : 63 cm. ; Pr. : 62 cm.

  • Provenance : livrées en 1789 pour une des chambres du château de Madame Elisabeth (1764 - 1794) à Montreuil (Versailles).Don de Mlle Lydie Chantrell, 1958 , 1958

    OA 9980, OA 9981, OA 9982, OA 9983, OA 9984

  • Decorative Arts

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Additional information about the work

Handwritten label on the back rail: "Chambre à coucher de md Elisabeth à Montreuil" ("Bedchamber of md Elisabeth at Montreuil").