A RARE SET OF FOUR LARGE WATERCOLORS OF PROPOSITIONS FOR TORCHÈRES English. Last Quarter Of The Eighteenth Century. Measurements: Height: 28 1/2″ (71.5 cm); Width: 13 1/4″ (34 cm); Depth: 1″ (2.5 cm)
Of watercolor and pen over graphite on paper. Each, mounted and set in a later rectangular frame with gilt edge, depicting a design for a giltwood torchère, one inscribed “I Chuse this,” with further sketching out in pencil of form and dimensions.
As early as the Renaissance, interior decoration concepts were communicated through designs on paper, from sketches of single pieces of furniture to elevations of entire completed projects. Presentation drawings offered patrons a range of designs and materials to choose from when filling their homes with furniture and decorative objects. “Design firms and workshops often had a portfolio of drawings and modelbooks at hand which functioned as a catalog ‘avant la lettre‘ for customers to choose their preferred designs, or to help them make decisions when creating a custom-made design.”1
The present set of four watercolors of neoclassical torchères represents just such a collection of options provided to a patron. Out of the four, one design must have successfully met expectations, as it is inscribed “I chuse this” (sic). Although the watercolors were intended as sample prototypes for torchères, they merit the additional distinction of being works of art in their own right.
1. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Exhibitions: Living in Style Five Centuries of Interior Design from the Collection of Drawings and Prints. http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2013/living-in-style/catalogues-avant-la-lettre