Part of a set of seat furniture, this armchair was in the possession of Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, duc de Penthièvre (1725–1793 ), grand admiral of France and a cousin of Louis XVI. Marks underneath the frame indicate that the chair was made by Georges Jacob for the ceremonial bedchamber at the duke’s Parisian residence, the Hôtel de Toulouse. As fauteuils meublants, the armchairs of the set would have been placed in a formal arrangement along the walls of the room. The smaller side chairs would have formed a second row around the center of the room.
This chair is among the few pieces of seat furniture in the Museum’s collection that have kept both their original show covers and their underupholstery. The removable back panel, arm pads, seat cushion, and edge roll below are upholstered with silk satin that is embellished with chain-stitched embroidery of high quality. The duke seems to have beenvery fond of such polychrome needlework on a light ground, as is documented by the large bills he received from the workshops of two brodeurs — Baudouin, possibly Joseph-François-Xavier Baudouin (1739–ca. 1786), and the not yet identified Boucher — for embroidered hangings and upholstery they created for the Châteaux de Sceaux and de Bizy between 1775 and 1780. Could the same workshops also have been responsible for the once very colorful floral needlework on the Museum’s armchair? It includes certain motifs in the border — such as the string of pearls with foliage winding around it — that harmonize with the carving of the walnut frame. Especially noteworthy in this respect are the deeply undercut myrtle branches spiraling around a straight rod on the seat and back rails, which must have been very difficult to achieve. Trails of berried myrtle coil around the tapering legs, which are crowned by collars of laurel leaves. Branches of both these evergreen shrubs not only embellished eighteenth-century furniture, porcelain, and other decorative objects but were also present in the French interior in a different form. Mixed with dried flower petals, herbs, and spices, their fragrant leaves were used as ingredients of potpourri.
Signature: G + IACOB (impressed on underside of back seat rail)
Marking:  279;  de Pvre Paris Chambre à Balus . . .;  B125 and the crowned monogram LPO;  VIII (incised);  Chambre a baluster (inscribed);  crowned monogram LPO;  Ouvrard (sticker inscribed in ink);  Duveen Brothers 20-10-19 (modern sticker inscribed);
Location of marks: - underside of back seat rail (stamped, painted, and stenciled);  on top of each seat rail under the slip seat;  on the slip seat;  written on the webbing;  attached to the side of the slip seat;  affixed under the left seat rail
Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, duc de Penthièvre , Hôtel de Toulouse (ca. 1780–93) ; Louise-Marie-Adélaïde de Bourbon-Penthièvre, duchesse d'Orléans (1793–97) ; Gabriel-Julien Ouvrard ; Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans (1814–43) ; Marie-Clémentine-Caroline-Léopoldine-Clothilde d'Orléans, Princess of Saxe Coburg and Gotha (1843–1907) ; [ Duveen Brothers , by 1934 ] ; The Samuel H. Kress Foundation (until 1958; to MMA)