Roman arabesques and grotesques, which came to light in the late fifteenth century with the discovery of the Domus Aurea villa in Rome, were reinterpreted for the Renaissance decorative vocabulary by Raphael, then in France by the engravings of Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau the elder; their return to fashion was largely due to Jean Bérain (1644-1711), a designer appointed dessinateur de la Chambre du roi (a post which included overseeing the decorative settings for the fêtes held by Louis XIV). Bérain gave new life to these decorative forms, preferring elegance and coherence to humor and fantasy; as a result, this highly elaborate ornamentation, sometimes expressed in ironwork, became popular in all the decorative arts and was interpreted in Boulle marquetry, faience, bronze and tapestry. Some pieces feature the so-called “Bérain style” decoration: an armoire with tortoiseshell and brass marquetry attributed to Nicolas Sageot; a mirror with verre églomisé (reverse gilded glass) and gold decoration on a red lacquer ground; a fireplace with Moustiers faience tiles; torchères in carved gilt wood. A double harpsichord lid features a particularly elaborate polychrome version.

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