This elegant canapé is part of a suite acquired by the rich banker Lemaître for his new château du Marais, outside of Paris, circa 1780. The suite included four bergeres and two fauteuils sold Christie's, New York, 1993, lots 372 and 372A as well as two sets of four fauteuils and two pairs of small canapés sold Christie's, New York, 26 October 1994, lots 99-102. Most of the suite was stamped by Claude II Séné.
Lemaître acquired the Marais estate in 1767 and began construction on his vast new château around 1772. Conceived in the fashionable neoclassical style, Marais was built to designs by Benoit Vincent Barre but not completed until 1780. Comprising well over 100 rooms, with three appartements d'honneur and 12 guest suites, Marais was not surprisingly described in the memoirs of Norvins as "...point un château mais un vaste et superbe hôtel à dix lieues de Paris."
According to the Marquis de Bombelles, the château cost over two million livres and all but ruined Lemaître. "[E]pouvanté des sommes du'il avait englouties dans cette construction," Lemaître preserved Marais like a museum, "mettant des chausseurs pour toucher au parquets et des gants pour montrer les flambeaux."
This suite of furniture adorned the Grand Salon, the principal reception room which overlooked the park in the coneter of the château. Even in 1783, it was valued at 7,400 lives.
Lemaître's niece, Adélaïde Prevost, inherited Marais. She married Alexis Lalive de la Briche (1735-1785) who was the brother of the famous collector Lalive de Jully, and a collector in his own right of Hubert Robert, Pajou, and Clodion. Mme. Lalive de la Briche remained at Marais throughout the French Revolution, where she was protected by the local peasantry. She kept a brilliant salon throughout the early 19th century with Chateaubriand, Marmontel, Sainte-Beuve, and Mme. De Staël frequent visitors.
At her death in 1844, the suite is still recorded in the Grand Salon, and remained there until it was removed by her neice, the Marquise de la Ferté-Meun, prior to the sale of the château in 1897 to Anne Gould, then the Comtesse Boniface de Castellane.
Claude II Séné received his maîtrise on July 31, 1769, and set up his atelier in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. In 1783 he moved to the rue de Cléry, not far from his brother, Jean-Baptiste-Claude. Unlike the latter, who worked primarily for the Crown, Claude preferred a private clientèle, notably the Duchesse d'Enville and the banker, Torteau de Septeuil.
Two pairs of marquises from the suite were subsequently sold from the Dimitri Mavrommatis collection, Sotheby's, London, 8 July 2008, lots 43 and 44. A canapé former in the Doucet collection, with similar Beauvais upholstery, is illustrated in J. Badin, La Manufacture de Tapisseries de Beauvais, 1909, p. 96, and a similar marquise is reproduced in G. Janneau, Les Sièges, 1977, pl. XXX.