11039

AN EXQUISITE CARVED WALNUT ROCOCO CARRIAGE-MAKER’S MODEL FOR A CARROSSE MODERNE

Probably German. Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century.

Measurements

Height 11½” (30 cm); Width 7¼” (18.4 cm); Depth 7¾” (19.6 cm);

Research
Of walnut. The domed foliate restored carved top rests upon a bombe form body with single forward door. Semi glazed on three sides with exquisitely carved foliate cartouche-shaped panels below. The whole resting on four foliate carved sled feet. Glass replaced. Bottom underneath panel possibly replaced.

Provenance:
UK Collection

The shape of the present carriage model takes the form of the “carrosse moderne” or “grand carrosse,” pioneered under Louis XIV, which, unlike previous half-open designs, featured completely enclosed compartments with windows and filled-in panels. The function of such vehicles was mostly for the purpose of ceremonial arrivals “entrées solennelles” (solemn entries) and parades.1

From the Renaissance onwards carriages, sleighs and sedans had played a vital part in court ceremony throughout Europe, for royal travel, as well as during parades, and many accounts exist describing the sumptuous trains of hundreds of vehicles, prized horses and elaborately dressed coachmen.

The trade in precious coaches had initially been dominated by Italy, to be superseded by France. However, since the middle of the seventeenth century it is known that Berlin had also established a trade in the manufacture of luxury carriages to rival the French production, so much so that the “Berline” became the term for this favored vehicle for royal occasions throughout Europe.

The form of the Berline retains the outward appearance of a traditional coach. However, its essential difference lies in the fact that the front and rear axles are joined together by two stretchers and not a single backbone, like a typical coach model. The result is greater security; in the event of the breaking of a wheel or a line, the carriage does not tip over. The Berline is also lighter and more comfortable, thanks to its suspension, originally made of leather and, later, of metal springs.

Production of coaches at the highest level of taste and quality was particularly encouraged during the reign of Prussia’s first king, Frederick I (r. 1688-1713) and again under Frederick II, who, for his personal use, developed a new level of luxury in coaches, employing the leading carvers and designers to apply his particular interpretation of the rococo to their models.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.