Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Home Beautiful: Marie Antoinette's Armchair, c. 1785

Arm Chair
French, c. 1785
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This chair, surmounted by a monogram of “MA”, was made for a now-unknown palace for Marie-Antoinette, queen to Louis XVI of France. While we’re not sure for which of the French Royal residences this chair was made, it’s notable that a similar suite of chairs was made for the Château de Saint-Cloud. Another two sets of chairs of a corresponding style can be found at Versailles and at the Tuileries. 

One of two carved walnut chairs remaining from the set, this chair (and its pair) were reupholstered with the present silk fabric in 1971. The original upholstery is long, long lost. The restorer took liberties with the silk swags, modeling them after a small wax model of a similar chair which was made about 1780—five years before this chair is thought to have been constructed.

Carved, gilt and painted a gray-white, the armchair features a bowed back and canted sides, above a D-shaped, bow-fronted seat. Turned and tapered legs, the back legs slightly raked and splayed, support the piece. Carved figures of the goddess Diana add drama.

The chair has been attributed to Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené, (1748-1803) who had been commissioned to create furnishings for a number of the French palaces in the 1780s. 

A newer photo showing the chair, cleaned, with the flounces removed.  

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