Jean-Baptiste Tilliard (1686-1766), maître in 1717, menuisier du Garde-Meuble du Roi from 1728 and Jacques-Jean-Baptiste Tilliard (1723-1798), maître in 1752, menuisier du Garde-Meuble du Roi from 1766.
This remarkable suite of seat-furniture is a rare survival of peinture au naturel, its original polychromy surviving largely undisturbed beneath a later gilding which was removed after the Madame Lelong sale of 1903. Executed by amongst the most sophisticated and progressive menuisiers, it was obviously designed to correspond with an elaborate boiserie room with an alcove for the canapé.
Although in its 'pittoresque' polychrome colour scheme and sinuous cabriole legs, this suite harks back to the Rococo of the 1750s, the use of an oval back represents amongst the earliest stirrings of the Neo-classical style. The earliest known representation of an oval-back chair is in Pierre-Antoine Baudouin's engraving, Le Lever, published in 1765. That Tilliard - alongside Louis Delanois - was leading the way in the use oval backs in the early 1760s is confirmed by the historically significant miniature chair by Tilliard, which was acquired by Lord Coventry from Simon-Phillippe Poirier between 1763-68 (sold Christie's New York, 26 October 2001, lot 88). This latter chair may have served as an alternative chairframe for Coventry's Gobelins tapestries, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. There was apparently a painting at the factory, executed by Maurice Jacques in 1762, designed to show prospective clients how a room hung with tapestries might look, with seat-furniture and a bed en suite. It is probable that the chairs in Jacques' room view were an oval-back, straight-legged chair in the most up-to-date Neo-classical taste, which would have echoed the oval medallions in the tapestries (E. Harris, 'The Moor Park Tapestries', Apollo, September 1967, pp.180-189).
THE TILLIARD DYNASTY
Jean-Baptiste Tilliard was one of the pre-eminent menuisiers of his day. He worked in conjunction with his brother Nicolas (until 1750) and from 1752 with his son Jean-Baptiste II, all three using the same stamp. He received regular Royal commissions as well as from a large number of distinguished clients. Jean-Baptiste II worked under his father's direction until 1766, probably dealing with boiseries and room decoration.