Thursday, February 1, 2018

Friday Video: The Countess of Provence's Fabulous Jewel Cabinet, 1787

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Susan reporting,

In this era of mass-produced, particle board furniture that's bolted together and has the lifespan of a loaf of bread, it's almost impossible to imagine the level of craftsmanship, skill, and pride that went into creating something like the jewel-cabinet shown in this video. This exquisite piece was made in the 1780s by the cabinetmaker Jean-Henri Riesener for Marie-Josephine-Louise of Savoy, who married Louis XVI's younger brother, the Comte de Provence (and future Louis XVIII.)

Although the Comte and Comtesse were able to flee to the safety of the Austrian Netherlands in 1791 and therefore escape the guillotine, all their belongings were confiscated by the state. Originally the jewel-cabinet was put on public display like much of the rest of the royal furniture, but as the government's funds began to dwindle, the cabinet eventually joined the pieces that were put up for sale. (In an earlier post, I shared one of Marie-Antoinette's armchairs that ended up in the home of an American Founding Father.)

The cabinet was offered to Napoleon, who declined to purchase it, preferring to have new designs and decor to reflect his empire rather than such reminders of the ancien regine. In Britain, however, George IV, however, had no such qualms, and eventually bought the cabinet for 400 guineas in 1825. It has remained in the Royal Collection ever since: a true masterpiece.

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Hels said...

Napoleon knocked treasures all over Europe so I wonder why he didn't take this masterpiece. If it was the wrong style, he could have given it away to mother or one of his many siblings.

Donna Hatch said...

Beautiful piece of furniture! The room where they keep it is equally stunning!

Anonymous said...

Amazing craftsmanship. Beautiful decorations. I can only imagine the jewels this cabinet held. The closest thing we have today--to my limited knowledge--for craftsmanship on a grand style is the Steampunk movement. Some of the things artisans in that area have created are amazing. So, craftsmanship lisn't dead. And craftsmanship like this was never was meant for 'the masses'.

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