Door from the cabinet intérieur of Étienne-François, duc de Choiseul (1719-1785), at his château of Chanteloup


Not on view

Door from the cabinet intérieur of Étienne-François, duc de Choiseul (1719-1785) at his château of Chanteloup. Choiseul was one of the most powerful politicians during the reign of Louis XV until he fell out of favor with the king and was forced to retire at his country estate at Chanteloup in 1770.

In an anonymous drawing, now in a private collection, dating to ca. 1771, the door is clearly visible in the duke’s private cabinet, one of the most richly ornamented rooms in the castle. The door’s main decoration of a shield with a female head surrounded by acanthus scrolls and branches closely resembles a drawing attributed to Henri Salembier (collection Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). Whereas the decoration in the drawing symbolizes spring, the woman’s hair is crowned with roses and the shield is surrounded by flowering branches, the door’s carved ornament symbolizes Fall. The woman carries pomegranates and leaves in her hair while the shield is surrounded by fruit-bearing grapevines, berried ivy and laurel branches. The carving above the door, consisting of acanthus scrolls ending in curling snakes that flank a central cassolette, derives from the same design.

After the duke’s death, the paintings displayed in the cabinet were sold at a 1786 auction but the decorative frieze and door remained in place but were removed at an unknown date. Six of the frieze’s carved panels (07.225.464a-f) and the door were later part of the model collection of woodwork, paneling, and seat furniture of Maison Leys, a successful decorating business, located at the Place de la Madeleine in Paris. Since 1885, the business was directed by Georges Hoentschel who installed the collection in 1903 in a museum-like display at Boulevard Flandrin, Paris, as depicted by Léopold Stevens’ (1866-1935) Interior of the Hoentschel Collection at 58 Boulevard Flandrin, Paris (2019.55). In 1906, Hoentschel sold the collection to J. Pierpont Morgan who gave the panels and the door with the rest of the decorator’s seventeenth and eighteenth century objects to the Metropolitan Museum of Art the following year.

Door from the cabinet intérieur of Étienne-François, duc de Choiseul (1719-1785), at his château of Chanteloup, Wood, carved, painted white and gilded, French

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