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    Sale 2825

    The Decorative Arts Sale

    30 June - 1 July 2009, Amsterdam

  • Lot 51



    Price Realised  


    Each with a rectangular padded back, seat and squab cushion upholstered in green material, the arms with dolphin terminals, on sabre legs (2)

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    Pre-Lot Text

    The Empire Style in Holland

    When Napoleon Bonaparte had himself crowned emperor of France in 1804, it heralded his aspirations of a European Empire under one rule and with one law. All of Napoleon's residencies, as well as those of the Kings of countries within the Empire had to adhere to the new style. The Empire style drew heavily on the stylistic language of classical Rome and Egypt. This new phase of Neo-classicism was more severe than that of the preceding Louis XVI and Directoire styles. An important aspect of the Empire style is the unity between architecture and furnishing, and rigid adherence to symmetry and proportions. The new style had simpler lines embellished with gilt and carved ornaments which closely followed examples from antiquity. Favourite themes were animal heads such as ram's heads, swans (lot 53), dolphins (lot 51) and eagles, herms and caryatids, both male and female and often a-l'Egypte (lot 61). Favorite themes were also borrowed from antiquity with Mythology playing a leading role, specifically Apollo and Nike were favourite gods, the latter often functioning as the stem for candelabra. The architects of the Empire style were Percier and Fontaine, who in turn had a strong influence on cabinet makers such as the highly successful Jacob brothers.
    Although some wealthy private patrons embraced the Empire style before Louis Napoleon embarked upon his scheme of refurbishments for various Dutch palace and houses; notable examples being the House Barnaart and the House Hodshon, both in Haarlem, the style received a strong impulse when Louis Napoleon became king of Holland in 1806. After short periods of residencies in the Hague and the palace 'Het Loo' in Apeldoorn Louis Napoleon moved his residence to Amsterdam in 1808 when the Civic Palace was vacated and work started on the re-furbishment of the palace. Instead of commissioning French craftsmen, Louis Napoleon where possible used Dutch craftsmen. There were several cabinet makers, furnishers and chair makers involved in the furnishing of the palace. Many of the chairs and soft furnishings were supplied by Joseph Cuel, a Frenchman who came to Holland in the late 18th century and worked in Amsterdam as Tapissier. Cuel did not make chairs himself but commissioned them from chair-makers, both from Paris and Amsterdam and the Hague, he also had local craftsmen make copies of Parisian chairs. Aside from the Royal commissions for the Palaces in Amsterdam and the Hague, Dutch furniture in Empire style is relatively rare. The first quarter of the 19th century marked a period of economic downturn, with a large state deficit, it would seem that with some exceptions in general there were not so many well to do citizens who were able or willing to embark upon a scheme of re-furbishment during the Empire period. The set of four fauteuils from the J.W.N. van Achterbergh Collection are very similar to those supplied by Cuel to the Salon des Officiers in 1808; these chairs are slightly less elaborate and lack the gilt detail, but quite possibly were also supplied by Cuel to a private commission.