Armchair (Fauteuil à la reine), ca. 1735
Gilded walnut, modern upholstery, and brass studs
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
The 18th century is widely regarded as an apex in chair history. In this period, chair styles adapted to growing desires for comfort and luxury, and reflected the easing of etiquette. Fauteuil à la reine denotes a flat-backed armchair. The profile reveals a slightly reclined back, which in the past would have been rigidly vertical. The padded armrests, or manchettes, provide added comfort, and the supports are set back from the front seat edge to accommodate voluminous clothing.
Exquisite carvings in the frame range from low-relief striations and crosshatches, to blossoming flowers, scrolling acanthus leaves, and stylized shells. The top and front seat rails feature pierced cartouches that lighten the form. Detailed decoration in the back indicates that this chair, part of a larger set of chaises courants, was meant to be moved about the room on occasion. Incorporated c- and s-scrolls echo the overall undulating silhouette with deep-curving cabriole legs, which suggest the burgeoning Rococo style. The finished product is a collaborative effort between the wood-carver, the joiner (menuisier), the gilder (doreur), and the upholsterer (tapissier).