Paris. Late Eighteenth Or Early Nineteenth Century.


Height: 33" ( 84 cm)
Width: 27" ( 68.5 cm)
Depth: 21" ( 53.3 cm)

Of giltwood. Each with molded rectangular framed upholstered back from which issues downswept arms with upholstered armrests ending in a pommel shaped grip. The ‘x’ form front legs and arm supports centered by a stylized lion mask and stiff leaf lotus motifs. Each leg terminating in a well carved zoomorphic foot. Gilding restored.

Daniel Katz collection, London.
David Roche collection, Adelaide, Australia.

The present armchairs are very likely to be by the master menuisier George Jacob (1739-1814), as evidenced by a nearly identical drawing for a chair in the collection of the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris (figure 1), recently identified among anonymous designs.

Jacob’s success is exceptional not only for the quality of his output but because, unlike most ébénistes of the day who were Parisian and born or married into families of cabinetmakers, Jacob was born into a family of peasants in Burgundy. In 1754, at the age of 16, he moved to Paris to begin his apprenticeship and career. He began in the workshop of chairmaker Jean-Baptiste Lerouge and was strongly influenced by the work of Louis Delanois, whom he met during this period. In 1765, he was received master and set up his own shop on rue de Cléry.

Jacob’s inventive style made use of twisted ribbon, guilloche, fluted motifs, and zoomorphic elements that derived from contemporary discoveries. The excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt, turned 18th century designers’ eyes toward antiquity and they began to incorporate archaeological elements into their work. Percier and Fontaine, renowned architects of the time, produced a volume of designs using ancient motifs entitled Récueil de Décorations Intérieures. “These consequently became a favorite model with workers in every conceivable field of applied art…George Jacob being perhaps the ablest of the men making things of this sort.”1 The present chairs are conceived in the same manner as a tabouret illustrated in Récueil (Pl. 39, No. 5), with x-frame seat and legs terminating in zoomorphic feet and centered by a stylized lotus leaf motif (figure 1.) The x-form shape was much favored by the ancient Romans and Greeks for use in seating as well as tables.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.