Exhibitions/ Art Object
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Furniture Depicting the Four Continents

Factory:
Tapestry upholstery by Beauvais
Maker:
Workshop of de Menou (French, active 1780–93)
Artist:
After a composition by Jean Jacques François Le Barbier (French, Rouen 1738–1826 Paris)
Patron:
Commissioned for Louis XVI, King of France (French, Versailles 1754–1793 Paris)
Date:
designed ca. 1786, woven 1790–91; settee frame second half 19th century
Culture:
French, Beauvais
Medium:
Carved and gilded wood; wool, silk
Dimensions:
Overall: 42 1/4 × 75 3/8 × 28 in. (107.3 × 191.5 × 71.1 cm)
Classifications:
Woodwork-Furniture, Textiles-Tapestries
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Claus von Bülow Gift, 1978
Accession Number:
1978.404.6a–c
Not on view
Louis XVI commissioned the tapestry-woven upholstery for two settees and twelve armchairs (four are displayed in the exhibition) from Beauvais with four related tapestries. The personifications of the continents are set in landscapes on the seat backs, and animals native to each populate the seat covers. This set vividly reflects the late eighteenth-century Gallic worldview. One settee shows America being introduced to Europe by France, who is receiving a crown from Victory. This scene is contrasted with those on the other settee, where Asia and Africa are shown surrounded by the material wealth their lands can offer Europe, including luxurious jewels and textiles from Asia and ivory and Africans (shown in chains) from Africa.
Commissioned for Louis XVI, King of France ; possibly Garde Meuble de la République (delivered to Versailles, February 20, 1793) ; Abraham Alcan (from September 24, 1796) ; Private Collection, France (from May 18, 1852; sold in Paris to de Béarn) ; Prince de Béarn (1852–at least 1886) ; Gaston Menier (purchased in 1893) ; possibly Private Collection, USA (from 1939 or 1942) ; [ Sotheby's, London , December 13, 1974 ] ; [ Artemis S. A. , in 1975 ] ; [ E. V. Thaw & Co. , 1978; sold to MMA ]
Related Objects

America

Date: designed ca. 1786, woven 1790–91; settee frame second half 19th century Medium: Carved and gilded wood; wool, silk Accession: 1978.404.5a–c On view in:Not on view

Armrest

Date: 1754–56 Medium: Wool and silk Accession: 35.145.28d On view in:Not on view

Stag Hunt

Date: late 17th century Medium: Wool, silk (18-20 warps per inch, 7-8 per cm.) Accession: 53.188 On view in:Not on view

Chair (one of a pair)

Date: early 19th century Medium: Mahogany, tapestry Accession: 02.15 On view in:Not on view

Four upholstery panels for an armchair

Date: 1754–56 Medium: Wool and silk Accession: 35.145.24a–d On view in:Not on view