Palazzo di Montecavallo, Quirinal Palace, Rome, recorded in the salon du trone before 1814; The Palais des Tuileries, Paris;
One pair sold Sotheby's Monaco, June 24, 1982, lot 528
The second pair Galerie Camoin-Demachy, Paris
The set of four Sotheby's London 7 December 2005, lot 23 (GBP 198,400)
As with his other commissions for the former royal chateaux that had been emptied during the Revolution, Napoleon turned to the firm of Jacob for new stools. Between 1804 and 1814 he commissioned a large quantity of X-form pliants based on designs by the official court architects Percier and Fontaine, many of which are still in the French National Collections today. The diverse orders all have slight variations to the carved decoration, and the group most similar to the present stools is a set of eight now in Versailles (illustrated in P. Arrizoli-Clémentel, Le Mobilier de Versailles XIXe, no.57, p.185). Other examples by Jacob of similar form and carving are in the Grand Trianon, Compiegne and Malmaison [Fig. 1].
When Napoleon annexed the Papal States in 1809 he chose to use the Quirinal Palace as his official residence, and like in all the palaces in foreign cites under his control he ordered it to be furnished in an identical fashion to those in Paris. A former papal summer palace and now an official residence of the Italian President, the Quirinal Palace was built in 1583 on the highest hill in Rome [Fig.2]. Napoleon rebaptised the palace using the medieval name of Monte Cavallo (Mount of Horses), referring to the monumental statue of the Dioscuri that adorned the square in front of the edifice. As the label indicates, these stools stood in the Throne Room, where they remained until 1814, when the contents were sent back to Paris after Napoleon's abdication. They were then placed in the Tuileries Palace during the Bourbon Restauration (1814-1830). The Tuileries, an extension of the Louvre, was built in 1584 as the Paris residence of the King but was effectively abandoned when Louis XIV built Versailles and would only became an official Imperial and Royal residence again after the Revolution. These pliants were removed at some stage during the mid-19th century before the palace was destroyed during the Paris commune in 1871.
The firm of Jacob was started by Marie-Antoinette's chairmaker Georges Jacob (1739-1814). In 1796 he transferred his business to his two sons, Georges II and François-Honoré, who used the stamp JACOB FRERES RUE MESLEE from 1796 until the death of Georges fils in 1803, after which the surviving brother continued working under the name Jacob-Desmalter using the stamp JACOB.D R.MESLEE and transforming the firm into the largest and most prolific cabinetmaking enterprise of the Napoleonic Empire and principal furnisher of the Imperial residences.
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