This rich mahogany and ormolu mounted bed is an excellent example of the fine beds that were produced in France during the Empire Period. The most famous and impressive of these types of beds were constructed by the Jacob Freres furniture company, who supplied a number of pieces to Napoleon’s residences.
When Napoleon became emperor of France in 1804, he expanded on the themes seen in the previous period, Directoire, creating a new architectural style known as Empire. Napoleon wanted France to be the ultimate power, viewing bygone civilizations such as ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt to be ideal templates for his regime. Furnishings from the Empire reflected his ambitions, as they typically featured extravagant displays of Neoclassical décor. This mahogany day bed with gilt bronze mounts was crafted in the tail end of the Empire, circa 1815.
Mahogany was the preferred wood of Empire, with veneer often being used in seating and bedding to make the pieces lighter. Our day bed, which is considered a sleigh bed (named as such because of the curved headboard which resembles a sled), has figured mahogany veneer on all sides. The front side of the bed has been adorned with gilt bronze mounts, all Neoclassical in nature. A rosette can be seen inside each scroll of the headboard, with a rising poppy rinceaux below. Beneath the flowering vine is a gadrooned krater vase. In between the vases is a straight crossbar festooned with an arrow that has laurel branches tied to it by a crinkled ribbon bow. The bed sits on four large block feet and the front feet have a volute bracket affixed to their interior side.
Because the back side does not have any bronze mounts, it was designed to be placed against a wall. Sometimes the bed was paired with a similarly themed crown or “couronne”, with gorgeous silk fabric hanging down in a canopy. Our Empire mahogany day bed will make a fantastic showpiece in any household. The bed comes apart for easy transport, and the interior dimensions for fitting a mattress are 71.5 x 50 inches.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with wear commensurate to age and use, including minor losses, rubs, and surface buildup. Light age separations and sunspots from exposure to light. Professional restoration to small strips of molding.