Jacob Frères (attr. to), “Curule” armchair, Paris, Directoire (1795-1799)
Long-term loan from the Mobilier National, 1927
Inv. MOB NAT GME 5257
© Les Arts Décoratifs / photo: Jean Tholance
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The fashion for classical furniture which emerged in France in the 1780s went on to spread throughout Europe. The revolutionary period in France put a stop to furniture production, which recovered under the Directoire when many of the cabinetmakers of the Ancien Régime were commissioned once again. The post-Revolution society became wealthier but aspired to an idealized simplicity, applied to both clothing and decoration. Interior decoration was Pompeian, Egyptian or Etruscan in style, but reflected above all an aspiration to new aesthetic values in a changing world.
The curule armchair is one of the furniture pieces that characterize this period. This mahogany chair was attributed to Jacob Frères, who perpetuated the family tradition and know-how. Another typical Empire piece was the athénienne, a sort of tripod that could serve as a washstand, a jardinière or a perfume burner.