Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Design for a Canopy Bed in an Alcove

Anonymous, French, 18th century
Former Attribution:
Formerly attributed to Victor Louis (French, Paris 1731–1800 Paris)
ca. 1770–90
Pen and black ink, brush and brown and gray wash
14 15/16 x 20 7/16 in. (38 x 51.9 cm)
Drawings, Ornament & Architecture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1971
Accession Number:
Not on view
This drawing shows a design for a large canopy bed, placed in a neoclassical alcove. This type of design is often seen in palaces where an official ‘coucher’ and ‘lever’ ceremony (retiring to and rising from bed) was in custom. A select group of prominent people would be invited to observe and sometimes assist during this honorary occasion. The sumptuous draperies of the bed and niches played an important role in the ceremony as they allowed for the alcove to be completely closed off and therefore marked the transfer from public to private and vice versa. It is unknown for whom this stately bedroom was originally designed, but the nude sleeping figures in the friezes and the cupids adorning the bed introduce a slightly erotic theme which indicates that it may have been intended for a newly wedded couple. In the past, the design has been tentatively attributed to various well-known French architects and designers, such as Victor Louis (1731-1800), François-Joseph Bélanger (1744-1818) and Louis Gustave Taraval (1738-1794).
Edgar Kaufman (London); Sullivan Kaufman (British, 1908–1998); Yvonne Ffrench (British, born 1901); Vendor: Wynne R.H. Jeudwine (British, 1920–1984)
Sullivan Kaufman, George Knox Fantastic and Ornamental Drawings: A Selection of Drawings from the Kaufman Collection Exh. cat. Portsmouth College of Art and Design. Portsmouth, 1969, cat. no. 38.

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