These bergères are based directly on a group of four made for the boudoir of Empress Joséphine at the Palace of Saint-Cloud and are now at the Château of Malmaison. They were executed by François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter after the designs of Percier and Fontaine -- a page from their Scrapbook of Sketches with the design of the armchair is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (see M. Deschamps, Empire, London, 1994, p. 78 and D. Ledoux-Lebard, Le mobilier français du XIX siècle: 1795-1889, Paris, 1984, p. 335). A suite of the same chairs was also commissioned by Caroline Murat for the Silver Salon at the Palais de l'Elysée. Additional chairs, of slightly later design but with the same prominent swans, were supplied to Queen Hortense's bedroom at the Hôtel de Beauharnais.
It is no surprise, therefore, that such a distinctive design should have found imitation far afield from France. And especially in Russia, where the decorative arts of France were so admired by the Imperial family and aristocracy, and widely copied by local cabinetmakers. However, like many other of these transplanted designs, the present lot displays a more robust -- and perhaps playful -- interpretation of the original Empire model.