Details
Each upholstered à chassis with contemporaneous Beauvais tapestry depicting the Fables de la Fontaine, with cartouche-shaped backs on cabriole legs, one stamped CL BURGAT
4012 in. (102.87 cm.) high, 28 in. (71.12 cm.) wide, 2212 in. (57.15 cm.) deep, overall

Claude-Louis Burgat, maître 1744.
Provenance
Acquired from Kraemer Gallery, Paris, 2004.
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Lot Essay

The subjects depicted on the tapestry covers of this suite are based on the fables of Jean La Fontaine (1621-1695), which were in turn based on Aesop's fables. First published in 1668, La Fontaine's fables enjoyed enduring popularity and a second extended version was published in 1678-79, with a third addition in 1792-94. As a result, seat furniture depicting Fables de La Fontaine were popular in France in the eighteenth century. Many artists designed pictures for the Fables, the most famous of them was François Boucher (1703-1770) who is believed to have designed a series of his own cartoons. An inventory commissioned by M. Devin de Gravelle lists “huit fauteuils et un canapé de trois places de bois doré à chassis couvert de tapisserie de Beauvais, fables d'après de dessins de Boucher, 1,000 livres.
The Royal Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory first wove La Fontaine's fables in 1736 after a design by Jean Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755), who had been employed by the manufactory since 1726 and took over its directorship in 1734. Contractually he was bound to deliver six cartoons for tapestries every three years, but Oudry's style dominated Beauvais so strongly during this period that the workshop ceased all re-weavings of older subjects, and Voltaire even called the workshop the kingdom of Oudry. The fables were such a successful tapestry design that the main series was copied no less than sixteen times by 1777, and since the subjects could easily be reduced in size, numerous weavings for chair covers were undertaken. Changes in taste entailed a much more frequent weaving of chair, sofa and firescreen covers to match the overall appearance of rooms that were often clad in tapestries, see J. Badin, La Manufacture de Tapisseries de Beauvais, Paris, 1909, p. 59 and D. Heinz, Europäische Tapisseriekunst des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, Vienna, 1995, pp. 266-268.
Claude-Louis Burgat (1717-1782), who was made maître-menuisier in 1744, spent his career producing outstanding examples of Louis XV seat furniture. First established in rue de Cléry, he then moved to rue Feydeau. Throughout his career, the balance and elegance of his delicate carving composed of harmonious foliate elements alternating with cartouche motifs have been one of the recognizable characteristics of his production. The talent of Claude-Louis Burgat can be fully admired on a chaise longue – lit de repos now conserved in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris (inv. MB 442).

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