A LOUIS XV SAVONNERIE CARPET
A LOUIS XV SAVONNERIE CARPET

FRANCE, CIRCA 1750, WOVEN IN THE ROYAL SAVONNERIE MANUFACTORY AT CHAILLOT, DESIGNED BY PIERRE-JOSSE PERROT

Details
A LOUIS XV SAVONNERIE CARPET
FRANCE, CIRCA 1750, WOVEN IN THE ROYAL SAVONNERIE MANUFACTORY AT CHAILLOT, DESIGNED BY PIERRE-JOSSE PERROT
The sandy-yellow field with naturalistic floral sprays surrounding a corn-flower blue medallion containing fleur-de-lys and a golden central radiating fan-shaped roundel, all enclosed within a flowering garland, with scrolling rose-coloured acanthus leaves along each side and a pale blue acanthus escutcheon to each far corner, even overall wear, some reweaves and small scattered repairs, all four sides over bound
9 ft. 7 in. x 11 ft. 6 in. (290 x 349 cm.)
Provenance
The Lagerfeld Collection; sold Christie's Monaco, 28-29 April, 2000, lot 379.

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Amelia Walker
Amelia Walker

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Lot Essay

The Savonnerie carpet manufactory was a Royal undertaking started under the impetus and protection of Henri IV (r.1589-1610) and established an unrivalled reputation, akin to its sister factory, the Gobelins tapestry workshops. The aim of the enterprise was to develop a domestic luxury weaving industry that could supply the Crown with French carpets that would be equal to or even surpass the desirable and expensive imported pile carpets of the Orient. Under the patronage and protection of the Bourbon monarchs and exempt from the usual guild regulations the factory flourished, manufacturing carpets for the floor and to cover furniture almost exclusively for the Court, the Royal Palaces and for diplomatic gifts.

The present carpet was woven in the Duvivier workshop and designed by Louis XV’s favourite artist designer Pierre-Josse Perrot (1700-1750). The very recognisable pattern of the present carpet is first recorded in 1745 in the journal du Garde-Meuble, the administration responsible for overseeing the furniture and objets d'art of the Royal palaces. The journal du Garde-Meuble and the royal inventories record that six carpets of the present design were delivered between 1745 and 1753. Two were recorded in the Garde-Meuble in 1745 as No. 329 , and the royal inventory, made from 1769 to 1775, show they were at Fontainebleau and Choisy respectively. Two were delivered on 11 December 1750 for the alcove of Louis XV’s bedroom at Choisy and were listed as No. 337. Two were listed in the Garde-Meuble on 10 October 1753, listed as No. 339, and were sent to Fontainebleau 'pour la Reine’.

The records and receipts of the Savonnerie and the Registre d’Antin, confirm that eight carpets of this design were woven between 1744 and 1750, and a further eight carpets between 1751 and 1756. They are all recorded as measuring 3a.1s. by 2a.10s. and were valued at 1,768l. 11s. 10d. The original destinations of the first eight carpets can easily be established. The two carpets woven in 1745 correspond with No. 329 in the royal inventory. A carpet brought out of storage in 1747 appears to correspond with the first carpet of this design woven in 1744. One carpet is listed among the six Savonnerie carpets lent by Louis XV in 1748 to the Duc de Nivernais, this must be the carpet woven in 1747. The two carpets woven in 1748 are almost certainly those listed as No. 337 in 1750 in the Garde-Meuble. The final two woven in 1749 and 1750 appear in the royal inventory under No. 339. Unfortunately it is not possible to make such exact calculations about the eight later carpets as the descriptions in the journal du Garde-Meuble are rather vague. However, we can trace seven of these carpets. The Garde-Meuble inventory records that No. 355 was delivered in 1760 for use in the Dauphine’s Gallery at the Chapel at Versailles and a further six carpets were listed in 1771 and 1773, four under No. 382 for the use of the Mesdames in the Chapel at Versailles and the last two were joined together for use in Louis XV’s dining room at Saint Hubert, No. 390.

From the Savonnerie records we learn of a number of other carpets woven after 1756 with the same dimensions and cost as the carpets of the design of the present lot but unfortunately we cannot be certain if they were woven to the same cartoon. These include the carpet sold to Marshal Razumovski by Duvivier in 1768; the two carpets purchased by the Prince de Condé in 1771 for his bedroom in the Palais Bourbon; and the carpet presented by Louis XVI to Gustav III of Sweden in 1784 upon his visit. Interestingly, a carpet of the design of the present lot still remains in the collection of the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

The Savonnerie carpets that remain in a good state of preservation were almost without exception given as gifts before the fall of the Ancien Régime, such as the Savonnerie in Sweden, and as a result avoided the destruction that was brought to bear on Royal property after the Revolution. Most of the carpets in the Garde-Meuble were either sold or destroyed during the Terror and as a result it is impossible to prove whether the present carpet was one of carpets from the French royal palaces. Three carpets of the same design are preserved in the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor and are illustrated in Pierre Verlet, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Savonnerie, Fribourg, 1982, pp. 262-271, nos. 7, 8 and 9.


Pierre-Josse Perrot defined the decorative style of Savonnerie during Louis XV's reign. His designs built on the extraordinary achievements of the de Fontenays at Savonnerie under Louis XIV's reign but have a very definite identity that is pure 18th century. This combination of continuity and innovation is the key to Perrot's success. By modifying the architectural and slightly austere Baroque designs of the Grand Galerie carpets he honed a new style that retained the architectural framework of the earlier designs but adopted a less dense organisation of the different elements. His designs feel lighter and more delicate, often surrounded by floating garlands and bouquets of naturalistic flowers that were so in vogue during this period. In other words, Perrot represents the development from the Baroque to the Rococo at the Savonnerie, an aesthetic that we associate with the court of Louis XV and his famous mistress Madame de Pompadour. His designs are characterised by the richness and vibrancy of their colours and the flowing patterns with carefully controlled movement. An emphasis is placed on the central panels or medallions, which often bear Royal insignia such as the fleurs-de-lys or a single bold motif such as the rose moresque. The centralisation of the design is balanced by a lightening of the design towards the corners and in this case the airy swirling acanthus, which are connected to the central medallion by the lattice or fretwork of crossing floral stems that spread out from the medallion creating a similarly light and floating quality.

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