Lot 77
  • 77


40,000 - 60,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Haut. 88,5 cm, larg. 61 cm, prof. 52 cm ; height 34 3/4 in., width 24 in., depth 20 ½ in.
with medallion-shaped cabriolet backrest, carved with piastres and enhanced with acanthus leaves, the armrests ended by greeks, resting on tapered legs ; upholstered with blue moire ; stamped N. HEURTAUT


Sold in Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Me Ader, 9 June 1936, lot 110
Sold in Paris, Galliera Palace, Mes Ader, Picard et Tajan, 26 November 1974, lot 74
B.B.S. Un Hommage, sold Sotheby's Paris, 30 June 2016, lot 103


Jean Nicolay, L’art et la manière des maîtres ébénistes français au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1956, p. 175-176, repr. p. 225, fig. G

Catalogue Note

Undisputed master of the art of siege in the Louis XV period, Nicolas Heurtaut was also in his field one of the precursors of neoclassicism: a rare model, this pair of armchairs brilliantly illustrates the way in which he translated the Greek taste in carpentry at the end of the 1760s. Only one other identical pair is known - also stamped by hand - and was sold in these rooms on July 5, 2001, lot 53. It is also one of the very last examples of his production since he died in 1771.The most famous Neoclassical ensemble of Heurtaut is of course the one delivered to the Duchess of Enville for her castle of La Roche-Guyon, including two sofas and twelve armchairs, half of which is now preserved in the Louvre Museum (cf. Bill GB Pallot, Le mobilier du musée du Louvre, T. II, Dijon, 1993, pp. 110-113, cat No. 36), and the other part belongs to a private collection (Sotheby's sale in Monaco, the 22 and 23 June 1991, lot 538). This set was delivered, gilded, garnished and upholstered in Gobelins tapestries, before the end of the year 1769.
Born Marie-Louise-Nicole-Elisabeth of La Rochefoucauld (1716-1797), the Duchess of Enville was seduced by the fashionable taste in Paris in the years 1765-1770, and in this way redeveloped her castle of La Roche-Guyon following the newest neoclassical precepts. The large salon was adorned with four sumptuous pieces of tapestry illustrating the History of Esther, also woven with Gobelins, and now kept in a private collection in Paris (sale Sotheby's in Monaco, December 6, 1987, lot 118). The room received not only the living room furniture mentioned above, but also several other suites of seats, probably delivered by Heurtaut as seem to prove it "some notes of supplies made to the Duchess of Anville", appearing in the inventory after the death of the sculptor and carpenter (see Bill GB Pallot, "1772: suppliers and customers of Nicolas Heurtaut in the neoclassical era", L'Estampille No. 179, March 1985, pp. 52-57).
Of all these sets of seats delivered, the model of at least one of them seems to have been very close to that of our armchairs - except for its bent backrest in the top and not medallion - as well as can be seen on the far right of a watercolor executed in the nineteenth century by Joseph-François-Désiré Thierry and showing precisely the large living room of the castle of La Roche-Guyon (this watercolor was part of the collection of Karl Lagerfeld, sold by Christie's in Monaco on 29 April 2000, lot 49).

Another famous furniture illustrates the neoclassical way of Heurtaut, that of the old collection of Madame André Saint (sale in Paris, May 21, 1935, lot 150) where one finds in the center of the belt a recess similar to that which adorns our armchairs. However, this furniture like that of La Roche-Guyon is distinguished - on the record in particular - by a still sinuous line, while the armchairs presented here already adopt a Louis XVI silhouette, and if the shape of the armrests remains very slightly in a stroke. Whip, it is however attenuated by a sculpture characteristic of the Greek taste.

Like Delanois, at the same time carrying out seats of a radically new taste for the Count of Orsay and the King of Poland, Heurtaut demonstrates here that he was also able to renew the art of siege at the dawn of 1770s ; their productions made a date and played a decisive role in the development of the style that was to blossom fully under the reign of Louis XVI.