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Work A sofa and six "fauteuil à la reine" armchairs

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism

Suite of six fauteuils à la reine (flat-back armchairs) and one settee

© 2010 Musée du Louvre / Studio Sébert

Decorative Arts
18th century: neoclassicism

Author(s):
Muriel Barbier

This set of a sofa and six "fauteuil à la reine" style armchairs comes from the château of La Roche-Guyon (Val d'Oise), which was redecorated by the Duchess of Anville between 1764 and 1769. The armchairs, originally in the duchess's grand drawing room, were made by the carpenter Nicolas Heurtaut (1720-1771) and upholstered with Gobelins tapestry. They are typical of the Transition style which came into fashion in the 1760s.

Redecorating the chateau of La Roche-Guyon

Between 1764 and 1769, the Duchesse of Anville, née Marie-Louise-Nicole-Elisabeth de La Rochefoucauld, set about redecorating the chateau of La Roche-Guyon in the Val d'Oise, the grand drawing room in particular. The redecorated interior was designed in accordance with the new Neo-classical style. Early in 1768, the duchess commissioned a set of four tapestries recounting the story of Esther. At the same time, she commissioned a set of furniture including two sofas and twelve armchairs. The sofa and armchairs in the Louvre were originally part of this set. The wood frames were the work of Nicolas Heurtaut, who was already one of the duchess's regular suppliers. He completed and delivered the order by the end of 1769. Fauteuil à la reine armchairs were designed to be placed along the walls rather than in the centre of the room.

The Gobelins tapestries

The Gobelins workshops which made the Esther tapestries for the duchess also made the upholstery for the sofa and chairs in similar colours. Each chair is upholstered with a different design of a colourful bouquet of flowers against a crimson background of imitation damask. The bouquets are outlined with darker red "shadows". No other examples of this shadow motif in chairs upholstered with Gobelins tapestries are known. The bouquets were taken from drawings by two artists based at the Gobelins workshops, Maurice Jacques and Louis Tessier.

A new style of chair for 1768

Stylistically, the sofa and chairs are highly characteristic examples of the Transition period. The transversal strut of the seat is still graceful and fluid and the arched back takes the place of the sweep of the shoulders, underlined by the use of a rosette in their stead. This sense of movement is also characteristic of the sofa, whose back is divided into three arches ornamented with large rosettes. At the same time, the placing and style of the tapering legs look forward to Louis XVI-style chairs: the feet face forward in line with the front transversal strut rather than facing out at the corner as was usual with Louis XV chairs. Each leg is topped with a square block that separates the leg from the seat-rail - an archaic form that reflects the reluctance of carpenters to move beyond the familiar curved shapes. The front-post, in the shape of a horn of plenty, is a new departure: it is placed directly in line with the front leg and rests on a block which frees up the foot. The decoration - rosettes and an intertwining frieze - are perfectly integrated into all the various parts of the chairs, prefiguring the ornamental style of Louis XVI wood furniture.

Bibliography

PALLOT, B.G.B., Le Mobilier du musée du Louvre, t. 2, Paris, 1993, pp. 110-113.

Technical description

  • Stamped with the mark of Nicolas HEURTAUT

    Suite of six fauteuils à la reine (flat-back armchairs) and one settee

    C. 1768

    Paris

  • Gilded beech; upholstery by the Manufacture des Gobelins, after models by Louis Tessier

    Armchairs: H. 98 cm; W. 67 cm; D. 57 cm
    Settee: H. 1.03 m; W. 1.94 m; D. 0.63 m

  • Provenance: Grand Salon of the duchesse d’Anville (née La Rochefoucauld), Château de la Roche-Guyon, Val-d’Oise
    Acquired in 1967

    OA 10290, OA 10291, OA 10292, OA 10293, OA 10294, OA 10295, OA 10296

  • Decorative Arts

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