A label pasted underneath the frame identifies this armchair as having been part of a large set of seat furniture. Consisting of more than sixty pieces, this set was commissioned on October 31, 1787, for Louis XVI’s Salon des Jeux at the Château de Saint-Cloud. The menuisier Georges Jacob initially supplied eighteen armchairs, twelve with straight backs meant to be placed along the walls (fauteuils meublants à la reine) and six with shaped backs for use in the center of the room (fauteuils courants en cabriolet). The number of armchairs must have been thought insufficient because on February 21, 1788, four more fauteuils meublants à la reine were ordered for the gaming room. Given the date on the label, the Museum’s example, stamped by Jacob, is one of those later four.
Invoices for this set not only reflect the division of labor among the different craftsmen but also reveal the amount that each was paid. Jacob, who cut the walnut to shape and joined the various elements, charged 24 livres for each armchair. A carver not mentioned by name was paid 180 livres for the continuous-chain ornament enclosing rosettes that embellishes the frame. Most expensive of all was the gilding done by Louis-François Chatard, which amounted to 240 livres and brought the total cost for the frame of each chair to 444 livres. Additional expenses were incurred for the upholstery by Claude-François Capin, who used a brocaded silk with a rosebush design against a green ground, now lost. With its simplicity of line and ornament from a classical vocabulary, this armchair is a textbook example of the Neoclassical style.
[Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, 2010]
Signature: Stamped: G. IACOB
Inscription: On the inside of back rail is pasted an old label which reads: Garde Meuble de la Couronne/ Ordre No. 99 du 25 février 1788/ Fauteuil Meublant pour Le Salon des Jeux du Roi à St. Cloud
Sticker with chamfered corner: 1940
Incised on back rail next to signature: III
Louis XVI, King of France (1788–89) ; Georges Hoentschel (until 1906; sold to Morgan) ; J. Pierpont Morgan , London and New York (1906; to MMA)