Georges Jacob, maître in 1765.
The distinctive embroidery to these chairs is of a type known as 'satin brodé aux Indes', which designation would seem to refer to the type of embroidery rather than the place of origin. It is therefore probably best read as embroidered in the style called 'des Indes'. These motifs were inspired by designs for the Fables de la Fontaine, probably executed for the Manufacture d'Aubusson.
THE DUC DE PENTHIèVRE'S SUITE
This embroidery closely resembles that on a suite of six chairs and two bergères by Nicolas-Quinibert Foliot, also featuring scenes from the Fables de la Fontaine, formerly in the collections of the duc de Penthièvre at the château de Chanteloup, previously at the château de Sceaux, and now at Waddesdon Manor (see G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Fribourg, 1974, vol. II, pp. 596-601). The latter Foliot suite is described in an inventory at Chanteloup in the cabinet of apartment no. 2: 'deux bergères à carreaux, six chaises en plein, à châssis et gros de Tours broché fond blanc représentant les Fables de la Fontaine. Les bois sculptés rechampis en or'. On the third of March 1794 these were again mentioned as 'couverts de gros de Naples, fond blanc, brodé aux Indes, représentant les Fables de La Fontaine'. The duc de Penthièvre must have had a particular fondness for that type of embroidery as in the salon of the château de Chanteloup there were twenty-one chairs upholstered in yellow satin des Indes, and the duc's oratory was also furnished with 'gros de Naples brodé fond soucy Fables de La Fontaine'. Furthermore, in July of 1778, the embroiderers Baudouin and Boucher delivered for the duc's apartment at the château de Sceaux a 'meuble de satin blanc brodé de soie crème'. This set was executed by Georges Jacob, who was the duc's menuisier. In January of that same year these embroiderers also supplied more than 16000 livres of embroideries with motifs of knotted bunches of silk for a room at Sceaux.
The garniture of satin brodé aux Indes on the present pair of fauteuils - like on the Waddesdon suite - is further related to a suite of six parcel-gilt and cream-painted fauteuils attributed to Foliot and branded with a crowned 'S.P.' The latter suite was formerly in the collection of Baron Carl von Seidlitz, New York, until sold 'Collection de la Baronne Sde New York', Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 26-27 June 1951, lot 167, subsequently 'Collection d'un Amateur Européen', Christie's, Monaco, 20 June 1992, lot 74, and is now in a prestigious private collection.
UNE GARNITURE DE SATIN BRODE AUX INDES
The present fauteuils are upholstered with delicate and colourful embroidery of satin brodé aux Indes which was cut and réappliquée or stitched onto a modern cream silk ground. In the present instance, the back of each fauteuil is decorated with a floral wreath which frames the protagonist drawn from each of the selected scenes from Les Fables de La Fontaine. In relation to the Waddesdon garniture, Renaud Serrette observes that polychrome embroideries on light-coloured silks were European imitations of the broderies des Indes and very much admired in the 18th century (R. Serrette, 'From Madame de Pompadour to Chanteloup, by way of the duc de Penthièvre: a set of two bergères and six chairs at Waddesdon Manor', The Duc de Choiseul Essays in honour of Mrs Charles Wrightsman, Waddeson Miscellanea Vol. I, 2009, pp.60-71). It is now generally accepted that the duc de Penthièvre (1725-1793), grandson of Louis XIV, would have acquired the 'Waddesdon suite' in the 1770s and ordered the present upholstery from two brodeurs du roi as part of a substantial commission of embroidered furniture for the châteaux of Sceaux and Bizy. The embroiderers, known as 'Baudouin et Boucher', have not been formally identified but the former might have been Joseph-François-Xavier Baudouin (1739-c.1786) who was received maître-brodeur on 20 December 1773 and worked for the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne.
On the basis of the pronounced similarities between the embroideries to the present fauteuils and those on the Waddesdon seats, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that the brodeurs, Baudouin and Boucher might have produced the broderies seen on the present fauteuils. Interestingly, 18th century garniture of this type was frequently applied to parcel-gilt and white-painted seat frames (Ibid) and a paint test recently carried out by Catherine Hassall of University College London has revealed that the present decorative scheme indeed conforms to what the original one would have been.
Fauteuils from the same series were sold Christie's, New York, 24 May 2001, lot 125 ($58,750 including premium), while further related fauteuils and a canapé en suite were sold as lots 126 and 127 (part).