PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN, TOGETHER WITH LOTS 15, 70, 71, 72 AND 73
comprising two armchairs and ten chairs, the armchairs and four chairs stamped G. Jacob, two chairs stamped Sené, each armchair with an arched padded back within a twisted-ribbon carved frame above downscrolled padded arms the supports carved with piastres and acanthus above a bowed padded seat, the seat-rail with twisted-ribbon motif with a patera above each leg on scrolled acanthus leaf carved fluted cabriole legs terminating in toupie feet, the chairs with similarly carved frames; one of the Sené chairs with a label: "Garde Meuble du Roi, Gauffier, doreur, Faubourg Montmartre, Versailles, Madame Elisabeth, 1793".
Prince and Princess de Rohan-Guéméné, part of the set commissioned between 1776-1783, comprising eight armchairs and eleven chairs, for la grande salle à manger, Château de Montreuil, Versailles.
Madame Elisabeth de France (sister of Louis XVI), Château de Montreuil, Versailles.
Recorded in the 1788 inventory of Madame Elisabeth of Montreuil (Archives Nationales 01 349) as follows:
"Huit fauteuils sculptés riches peints en gris et blanc garnis et couverts en tapisserie etc...cartouches de fleurs sur fond blanc." "Onze chaises idem pareil fond de tapisserie etc...à petits médaillons de fleurs sur fond blanc."
"Eight sculpted armchairs painted in grey and white...covered in tapestry...with flower medallion on a white ground"
"Eleven chairs...same covering".
Madame Elisabeth commissioned a further fourteen chairs in 1789.
Billout-Desmarais Sale, Paris, 1st June 1923, lot 67
J. Nicolay, L'Art et La Manière des Maîtres Ebénistes Français au XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 1976.
P. Verlet, Le Mobilier Royal Français, 1963.
C.P. Wiegandt, Le Mobilier Français Transition/Louis XVI, Paris, 1995.
This set of chairs and armchairs are recorded as having been part of two successive commissions for la grande salle à manger at Montreuil.
The first commission was given by the Rohan-Guéméné between 1776 and 1783 (for eight armchairs and eleven chairs by G. Jacob), and the second one by Madame Elisabeth, the latter being delivered by Sené in 1789, who added fourteen more chairs to the original commission. In 1782, Georges Jacob appeared as one of the creditors of the Rohan-Guéméné suggesting that the first delivery and indeed the commission was executed by Jacob, this is confirmed by the presence of his stamp on the chairs. The chairs stamped by Sené are therefore part of the second commission in 1789.
The accomplished design and refined carving is entirely consistent with Jacob's style. The rounded inner edge of the seat-rail is a technical device which he appears to have particularly favoured, although it was also used by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené. The unusual arched backs ("Montgolfière" shape) are found on a number of chairs by Jacob, see for example a chair illustrated by Nicolay, op. cit., p. 228, fig. C. The outline of the back is repeated on the set of fifty grey-painted dining chairs supplied by Jean-Baptiste Boulard and Sené for Louis XVI's Dining Room at Versailles (P. Verlet, op. cit. p.127, plate 33). A very similar set of twelve chairs by Jacob, probably commissioned for the Comte d' Artois at the Château de Maisons was sold, Sotheby's, Monaco, 18th June 1999, lot 127.
Comparable chairs by Jacob are in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris and in the Museum of Fontainebleau, see C.P. Wiegandt, op. cit., p. 36.
A pair of bergères à la reine, of a different model, however, was also delivered in 1789 by Sené for the 'Salon de compagnie' of Madame Elisabeth in the Château de Montreuil, which are now in the Louvre, Paris.
Georges Jacob (1739-1814).
Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené (1748-1803), sometimes known as J.-B. Sené l'aîné.
The Château de Montreuil:
Montreuil was built in around 1776 for Princess Victoire (1743 - 1807) and Prince Henri Louis de Rohan-Guéméné, duc de Montbazon (1745 - 1809). The Prince was appointed Grand Chamberlain of France by Louis XVI and the Princess, Governess of the Royal Children. The couple lived lavishly in Montreuil and in Paris at the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéméné, located on Place des Vosges. In 1782, they were declared bankrupt with a debt of 33 million livres. Their properties were sold, including the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéméné and their castle at Montreuil. In May 1783, following the bankruptcy of the Prince and Princess of Guéméné, Louis XVI purchased Montreuil together with its contents and gave it to his youngest sister Madame Elisabeth (1764-1794).
The princess would spend most of her day there, returning for the night to the château de Versailles. When she was twenty-five, the King allowed her to reside at Montreuil full time. Elisabeth was deeply religious and extremely devoted to her brother the King, refusing all offers of marriage so that she might remain by his side. Although she had many opportunities to leave France, she chose to be imprisoned with Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and their children during the French Revolution. She shared all of their humiliations and hardships and was condemned to death and guillotined on 9th May 1794. In his book Vie de Madame Elisabeth (1869) A.de Beauchesne described Madame Elisabeth's life in Montreuil as follows: "...The life she led there was like that of the happiest family in a castle a hundred leagues from Paris. The hours for work, for exercise, for reading, in solitude or in company, were carefully appointed. The dinner hour brought the Princess and her ladies together at the same table. (...) Later, before returning to court, they would all kneel down in the drawing-room, and in conformity to the habit surviving in some families, would have evening prayers together. Then they would return to the busy palace, at once so near and so remote, and enter their official home with the memory of a happy day filled with work, lightened by friendship, and consecrated by prayer."
Georges Jacob (1739-1814):
He was apprenticed to the chairmaker Jean-Baptiste Lerouge where he met Louis Delanois, whose advanced neoclassical taste was to have a great influence on Jacob. He was received Master on 4th September 1765. In his workshop, he employed numerous specialist carvers and gilders. He retired in 1796, leaving his workshop in the hands of his sons, one of whom was François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (1770–1841). When his other son died, Jacob returned from retirement to oversee the constant supply of furnishings for Napoleon's residences. After Delanois's early death, Jacob's only serious rival in his field was Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené.
Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené (1748-1803), sometimes known as J.-B.Sené l'aîné:
He was the son of Claude Sené and was the most celebrated member of this family of menuisiers. He became a maître when he was still quite young on 10th May 1769 and six months later he opened his own establishment in the rue de Cléry. His skill meant instant recognition and success and in 1785, he was appointed fournisseur de la Couronne and then was employed by the Menus-Plaisirs to make furniture for Louis XVI and Marie-Antointette and for other members of the French Royal family and aristocracy at the French Court.
He worked generally under the direction of Hauré and collaborated with a variety of sculptors such as Vallois, Laurent, Alexandre, Regnier and Guérin. Most of his work is distinguished by rich carving and is found today in many of the world's leading museums-the Louvre, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Musée Nissim Camondo in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, amongst others.
See catalogue note at sothebys.com
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