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Object Name: Armchair (fauteuil)
Date: ca. 1800
Related People:
Medium: Beech; paint, gilding, bronze, wool upholstery
Dimensions: Overall: 38 x 26 3/4 x 28 in. ( 96.5 x 67.9 x 71.1 cm )
Place made: Europe, France, Paris
Description: Painted and gilded Empire open armchair (fauteuil); square upholstered back with gilded fluted stiles; round upholstered arms with circular metal lion's head mounts (replaced) on arm terminations above baluster-shaped supports; upholstered square seat with bowed front seat rail; front and side seat rails decorated with gilded rondels; baluster-shaped front legs on blocks and raked rear legs; upholstered in original red wool showcover with applied metallic tape.
Credit Line: Gift of Louis Borg
Object Number: 1867.438
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Marks: Engraved on brass plaque with chair: "ARM CHAIR USED BY / NAPOLEON BONAPARTE / WHILE FIRST CONSUL / OF THE/REPUBLIC OF FRANCE / PRESENTED BY LOUIS BORG / 1867"

Gallery Label:

This commanding armchair, or fauteuil, was part of a suite made for Napoleon's council chamber at Malmaison in 1800. The room and its furnishings were conceived in the newly fashionable Empire style by leading French designers Percier and Fontaine. The chair was brought to America around 1816 by Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte, who owned a luxurious estate in Bordentown, New Jersey. Remarkably, the chair retains its original bronzé finish, red wool upholstery, and gilded metal trim.

Provenance:

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821); to his brother Joseph Bonaparte (1768-1844); to his business associate Felix Lacoste (1795-1853); to Louis Borg (1812-after 1867), his successor as consul general; to N-YHS.

Bibliography:

Olson, Roberta J. M. "A selection of European paintings and objects." The Magazine Antiques 167 (2005): 182-187.

Jean-Philippe Garric, ed., Charles Percier: Architecture and Design in an Age of Revolutions (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016), 277-279.

Exhibitions:

"Seat of Empire: Napoleon's Armchair from Malmaison to Manhattan," New-York Historical Society, October 8, 2002-January 12, 2003.

"The Red That Colored the World," Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 17-September 13, 2015.