Claude I Sené’s talents as a chair maker were not limited to seat furniture for humans (see also Gallery 541). Among one of the most charming pieces in the Wrightsman collection is this niche de chien created for Marie-Antoinette. Considered a part of domestic furnishings, dog kennels were typically comprised of a small case or basket open on one or two sides to allow the dog to enter. More elaborate models resembled diminutive canopied beds or tabouret-shaped chairs with a recessed niche below. The Wrightsman’s example is constructed from gilded beech and pine and covered with luxurious velvet. The interior is lined in a striped blue and beige silk. The usage of acanthus leaves and Greek keys throughout comprise popular Neoclassical motifs fashionable in France at the end of the eighteenth century. Marie-Antoinette, like Madame de Pompadour before her, was a lover of canines. Her pets seemed to return the affection: tradition has it that her beloved dog Coco followed her mistress to her imprisonment at the Temple during the French Revolution.
References: Nicole de Reyniès, Mobilier domestique: Vocabulaire typologique. Paris: Centre des monuments nationaux, Éditions du patrimonie, 2003, vol. 2, 944–5.
Signature: Stamped on the underside of the back rail in the center: G. SENE
Inscription: Printed stick-on label: “MINISTÈRE DE L’EDUCATION NATIONALE RÉUNION DES MUSÉES NATIONAUX; CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES, EXPOSITION MARIE-ANTOINETTE, Titre de l’oeuvre niche pour le chien de Marie-Antoinette, Proprietaire. Monsieur Penard y Fernandez, No. du catalogue 750.”
Marking: Branded, in the center of the bottom: cipher formed by the letters M and A beneath a closed royal crown all within a circle of words reading GARDE MEUBLE DE LA REINE [mark of the Garde Meuble de la Reine Marie-Antoinette]
Marie Antoinette, Queen of France ; [ Koenigsberg, New York ] ; Richard Peñard y Fernandez , Paris (until 1960; his sale, Musée Galliéra, Paris, December 7 , 1960, no. 123); Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman , New York (until 1971; to MMA)
Artist: Georges Jacob (French, 1739–1814)Date: ca. 1782–83Medium: Carved, painted and gilded walnut, pine, and linden; iron hardware; silk and wool Beauvais tapestry; modern silk damaskAccession: 23.235aOn view in:Gallery 523