Sunday, June 30, 2019

Museum Sunday: Folding stool for Marie Antoinette's gaming room

Museum Sunday: a day for highlighting objects, books, and other items from the collections and lives of Marie Antoinette and her contemporaries.

Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené (French, 1748 - 1803, master 1769)
Pair of Folding Stools (pliants), about 1786, Gessoed, painted, and gilded beech; modern upholstery
41.3 × 72.4 × 53.3 cm (16 1/4 × 28 1/2 × 21 in.), 71.DA.94
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Marie Antoinette love for gambling has become infamous, and this folding stool, now owned by the Getty Museum, was privy to many games played in Marie Antoinette's apartments at the chateaus de Fontainebleau and Compiegne. This stool was one of 64 ordered for use between the two palaces; they were delivered along with 12 matching fixed leg stools, a folding screen and a fire screen. They were originally covered with painted satin. The folding design made it possible for the stools to be transported from room to room, or even palace to palace if necessary, by simply removing the cushion.

The original stools were purchased at 720 livres each. In 1792, after the fall of the monarchy, they were integrated into the collection of the new French government. In 1797, some of the stools were transported to the Tuileries and palais du Luxembourg for use in the emperor's apartments. Today, the remaining folding stools are scattered throughout museums and private collections.

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