From France, this stunning set of four Louis XVI giltwood and tapestry armchairs date to the late 1700s. They would have been commissioned specifically for a salon.
This style of chair with open sides and upholstered arms are called fauteuils. They originated in France in the early 17th century and are sometimes referred to as “The chair of kings”, as they were symbolic of the Golden Age of the French monarchy. It was during the reign of Louis XVI that furniture and design took a turn away from the opulence of the rocaille, grandiose and curvaceous. Neoclassicim was on the rise: a return to the sleek and straight lines discovered from ancient cultures. Motifs of the period often included interlaced flowers and ribbons.
The set of chairs seen here are a beautiful example of the period. They are smaller in scale than the larger Louis XIV and XV armchairs, yet they have an important and strong stance. Each of the chairs has a unique set of scenes on the tapestries: one for the seat and one for the back. The seat of the first chair has an animal (possibly a goat) with a bird on its back, while the back of the chair depicts a man holding an instrument. The second seat has a dog frolicking in a field, with a man dancing while playing a clarinet on the chair back. The third chair has a fox and a rabbit on the seat, while the back has a woman picking flowers. The final seat shows a dog proudly displaying game in its mouth, and the corresponding back has a man sitting in a field, holding an anchor. All of the tapestries have floral borders and are attached to the chairs via brass nailheads. The tapestries are likely by Manufacture Aubusson, and would have been woven specifically for these chair (as opposed to a marriage of a salvaged tapestry fragment and later chair frame).
The top of the upright chair backs have floral bouquet carvings held together with tied crinkled ribbon motif. Emanating in both directions from the bouquets is a guilloche border that surrounds the entire chair back tapestry. The setback upholstered arms terminate in modified scrolls and beneath these is a large acanthus leaf carving. The arms trail down into squared florets, and deriving from these joints is a modified coin molding that borders the seat. All of this rests upon straight cable fluted legs that resemble columns, which is a trademark of Louis XVI chairs.
CONDITION: Strong frames and wear commensurate to age. Chips, surface buildup, and some recoloring to the gilding. One area of old worming, some repair to wood and likely restorations to the tapestries.