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Two Armchairs and Two Side Chairs
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Unknown
French, Paris, about 1735 - 1740
Gilded beech; modern silk upholstery

H: 3 ft. 7 1/2 in.; W: 2 ft. 6 1/8 in.; D: 2 ft. 8 7/8 in.
82.DA.95

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Using an upholstery method known as à chassis, the chair maker made the comfortably padded backs, seats, and arms of these chairs easily removable. The servants of the chairs' owner would have changed the fabric on the cushions with the seasons of the year, using a heavy damask or tapestry in the winter and replacing it with a lighter colored silk in the spring. A brief announcement in the newspaper informed the fashion-conscious inhabitants of 1700s Paris when to change their furniture coverings. On June 11, 1759, for example, the weekly newspaper announced that the winter furniture coverings in the king's apartments at Versailles had just been replaced by the summer ones.

Scholars do not know the maker of these chairs, as they were made in the 1730s, before the practice of stamping furniture with the name of the carver became a requirement of the guild. Although the chairs have modern silk upholstery, the original gilded surface of the wood has survived. It was preserved under numerous layers of later gilding, which were laboriously removed by conservators.


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Side chair
Side chair