Side chair (voyeuse)

Attributed to Sulpice Brizard

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 547

Gambling was ubiquitous during the ancien régime, as evidenced in paintings and engravings of the period, and gaming was central to the social rituals of the court and the nobility.

This painted and gilded side chair is of a type made especially for use during a gaming session. Known as voyeuse or viewer, these chairs were produced in a variety of different models depending on the gender of the occupant.

With its high saddle-shaped seat, this chair was designed for a male spectator. Straddling it backward, he could rest his arms on the padded top rail of the chair back and watch the game unfold as well as allowing him to view the hand of a player.

The chair is attributed to Sulpice Brizard (master 1762–98) and was originally part of a larger ensemble of seat furniture: two armchairs and a small settee (marquise) from the same set are also in The Met’s collection (41.100.346; 69.102.1-.2).

Side chair (voyeuse), Attributed to Sulpice Brizard (ca. 1735–after 1798, master 1762), Carved and gilded beechwood, French, Paris

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