These superbly carved fauteuils, richly ornamented with figural masks and dragons, and which remarkably retain their original Beauvais tapestry covers, once formed part of a set of at least six fauteuils and a canape almost certainly once in the collection of the celebrated minister of the Empire period, the duc de Tallegrand. The fauteuils were all with Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York in 1958, when one pair was acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio (Acc. nos. 58, 71 and 58.72). One pair was offered to the Virginia Museum of Arts, while the pair offered here were not seen again until sold from the celebrated collection of Charles de Pauw in 1986. The canape from the suite was on the New York art market in 1969. The suite was reputed originally to have come from the château de Chambord, a provenance which should be treated with caution as this celebrated hunting château was sparsely furnished at the beginning of the 18th century, although perfectly understandable given the hunting imagery of the chair's frames.
The imagery of the carved frames in combination with the remarkably well preserved Beauvais tapestry covers is particularly rich and unusually figurative. The Spring Season and Elements are celebrated in acanthus-wrapped cartouches by an abundant harvest of flowers displayed in festive 'krater' vases. Those at the back are also garlanded and attended by butterflies (air), hounds (earth) and fish (water) held by cats. The golden frames, enriched with Roman foliage tied by ribbon-guilloches, display hunters in the cartouches of their bowed crestings and are flanked by herm-busts of feather-dressed huntresses. Their richly moulded and antique-striated seat-rails display 'huntress' cartouches and are flanked by serpent-tailed dragons (fire); while the nature deity's 'shell' badges are tied by jewelled and arabesque-fretted ribbons to the arms, and emerge from the wave-scrolled volutes of the feet.
The decoration of the tapestry covers is related to designs in an upholstery pattern-book issued in 1725 by Jacques-Nicholas Baillion of the Rue de la Vieille Jouaillerie, Paris and dedicated to the princess Madame Benedicte Palatine de Bavière, duchesse de Brunswick et Lunebourg (d.1730), who lived at the château d'Asnières, near Paris (see P. Fuhring and Anne Ratzki-Kraatz, 'French Designs for Upholstered Furniture', Furniture History, pp. 41-60 and figs 11-16).
Related carved masks appear on a pair of torcheres which follow closely a design by Jacques-François Blondel, sold from the collection of the Baron de Redé, Hôtel Lambert, Sotheby's Monaco, 25 May 1975, lot 304, and again from the di Portanova Collection, Christie's New York, 20 October 2000, lot 130.