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Work Wall Hanging from the Bedchamber of Louis XVIII in the Palais des Tuileries

Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century

"Garniture de lit", five-panel wall-hanging*

© 1991 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
19th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

This panel was one of a series of wall hangings decorating the king's bedchamber in the Palais des Tuileries during the Restoration. Made of cut, uncut, and embroidered velvet, the furnishings for the chambers of Louis XVIII, and later Charles X, were one of the most important commissions granted to the Maison Grands Frères in Lyon. Technically, it was a feat, combining cut and uncut velvet, along with the application of a novel dyeing technique, called Raymond blue.

The royal bedchamber in the Palais des Tuileries

In 1817, after the monarchy had returned to power, Louis XVIII sought to refurbish his chambers. The king's chambers were of great historical importance under the Ancien Régime, since the royal bed was the very symbol of the monarchy. Napoleon I shifted this symbol by giving more importance to the throne room. Once back in power, the Bourbons wished to restore the former symbolism. Louis XVIII's bedchamber was the one used by Napoleon I, on the first floor of the palace, facing the garden near the Pavillon de Flore. Napoleon's bed was kept, and only the emblems were changed; a set of wall hangings was commissioned from the Maison Grand Frères. In 1825, the bed was changed, as Charles X refused to sleep in the bed where the mortal remains of his brother had been laid out. The wall hangings, however, were retained.

The 1817 commission

The design of the panels for this wall hanging was entrusted to the designer of the Royal Furniture Repository, Jacques-Louis de La Hamayde de Saint-Ange (1780-1860). The hangings were adapted to the architecture of the room and comprised four narrow panels, two wider panels, and four door panels. The series was delivered and installed by the upholsterer Darac. In addition to the wall hangings, the Maison Grand Frères supplied the trimmings for the bed (canopy, curtains, and counterpane), as well as the chair and screen coverings. The cording chosen was silk velvet, both cut and uncut, allowing an interplay of light between matt and sheen. The color was Raymond blue, developed to replace indigo by iron blue in silk dyeing.

Ornamentation evoking royalty and sleep

The center of the panel is decorated with dark motifs on a light ground (an effect obtained by using different cordings): a bouquet of acanthus leaves and foliage from which poppy flowers emerge, flanked by horns of plenty wrapped in foliated scrolls from which further poppy flowers emerge. The border of the panel is embroidered with gold thread. Along the lower edge of the border run foliage and acanthus leaves enlaced with heraldic fleurs de lys; on either side are embroidered natural lily flowers, and the top of the hanging is crowned with garlands of flowers, laurel wreaths, and natural lily flowers framing a royal crown surrounded by laurels. The fleurs de lys evoke the monarchy, of course, and are often found in their natural form as ornaments during the Restoration. As regards the poppy flowers, they are a symbol of sleep and were often used in bedchambers during the First Empire.

Bibliography

Exposition Un Age d'or des Arts décoratifs1814-1848, Paris, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1991, pp. 57-59.

Technical description

  • Maison Grand Frères

    "Garniture de lit", five-panel wall-hanging*

    1817-19

    Lyon

  • “Bleu Raymond” silk velvet, gold thread embroidery and brocade

  • Assigned from the Mobilier National, 1965

    OA 10279

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Kings bedroom
    Room 75

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