To Be Painted and Poufed: Marie Antoinette’s Chaise de Toilette

If you happened to read the large-font title, you’ve already figured out what Getty Collection gâteau I deemed too sweet not to have its own post. Let us gaze upon it in reverence! How can you lump the chaise where m@ was primped and painted in with some pedestrian side chairs? Heck, how can you put something so incomparable side-by-side with anything?

 

marie antoinette's chaise de toilette from Petit TrianonWow, yesterday I told you to contain your excitement, but it’s your Blog Hostess who is yammering deliriously now. I have never wanted to sit in a chair so badly in my life. That silken, tasselled rope draped across the armrest seemed so innocuous now…

marie antoinette's chaise de toilette from Petit Trianon, detailShe sat right here in this chair the size of which recalls a fifth-grade classroom–in size, not decor, design or comfort–naturally. (I’m naturally the size of a 5th Grader! That silk rope never looked less deterrent.) The Queen’s chaise is finely carved with bands of lily-of-the-valley and ivy along the curved supports of the arms, while the legs and edge of the circular seat imitate caning.

Sure you can call the late 1700s aristocracy superficial, but do tip your hat to their ingenuity in facilitating their narcissism. The chaise de toilette was built with a low back and a swivel mechanism, specifically designed to facilitate the daily hair, make-up and dressing performance. Just imagine the whirlwind of waiting women whisking around you…. [cue harp music, thank you.]

 

Marie Antoinette at her toilette (attributed to Lussow)

This image is far less dizzying than the toilette my imagination spun up.

Spin right, blush. Spin left, Monsieur Leonard nestles more ornaments into madame’s coiffure, somehow 18 inches above your forehead. Spin again, stocking shoes…arms up! Into the sleeves of a garment that snuck up behind… Yeah, somehow the process seems a little less than relaxing. I think I need a Dramamine.

 

Obviously, ‘Toinette the Queen of France, daughter of the Caesars, had more than one chaise de toilette. (Wouldn’t you?) This was not her palace primp chair, ‘Toinette dolled up in this chair before “rusticating” at Trianon or her Petit Hameau.

This chaise de toilette was part of a set of furniture delivered to the palace in 1787 that also included two armchairs, two side chairs, a fire screen, and a stool. The bed from the set is missing, but the rest remains at Petit Trianon. The other pieces retain the original pastel-colored paint in yellow, blue, green, and white. All of which has unfortunately been stripped from this chair.

Yeesh. Now it doesn’t seem so special, huh? Peeling paint! Let’s see if I can find an image of the rest of the set.

Something from Petit Trianon that wasn’t stripped of its paint? How about this adorable, portable reading table.

petit trianon reading table

What a difference automated color-correction makes! How blue did the left side get? Holy Cow.

Unlike most of the furniture in Petit Trianon, this wasn’t a design choice of M@, it was made for Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Montespan. This table’s marquetry of ivory and horn, painted blue underneath, in imitation of blue-and-white Chinese porcelain, a fashionable and highly-prized material. Even better, the blue-and-white motif goes perfectly with the same color décor in the Trianon.

 

I’d put my drink down on it while they teased my hair skyward and wrapped it over a wire skeleton. I read about the entire process once…you’ll want a drink or two just to watch! (Coasters! Don’t forget coasters!)

What fabulous guests you are!

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About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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7 Responses to To Be Painted and Poufed: Marie Antoinette’s Chaise de Toilette

  1. Angelyn says:

    I’m naturally the size of a 5th Grader! That silk rope never looked less deterrent.)

    Hilarious!

    Like

    • Yay! So stoked I made you laugh!

      I was sooo bummed in 5th grade when I found out I’d be 5’2″ for good instead of tall & statuesque like the rest of my family. Now I like being my size: you can get comfortable anywhere & sneaking past someone is a breeze. The only thing that stinks are concerts. I’m always lost in the land of elbows & shoulders!

      Thanks for the comment & stopping by!

      Like

  2. Yes, you ARE witty !! Great post, of course. I love all the delicious historical tidbits. I’m now jonesing, jonesing for a swivel chair to call my own. Two?! I’d own ten ! Vanity rules. Exhausting, though. Crowds would show up for the conversation and primping, eh? T. (Another AB-FAB post!)

    Like

    • Aww! You know your compliments are amongst my most esteemed. I can feel them healing my finger! (Oooh, speaking of, stitches come out today! Typed most of this one handed or dictating to Siri.)

      Sooo right! we need our own chaise de toilette & entourage to dote on us. (And tell me what to wear!) The modern full-service salon just pales in comparison. I guess we should each nab one of those gorgeous neo-classical nécessaires to carry our swag.

      Thanks again for such kind words; I always wonder if my wit comes out in these blogs, which tend to be dry topics w/o room for much “adjectiving” as I like to call them.

      BTW, Do you take requests? I think a post about toile would be awesome & I think you’re more versed on the topic than I. (Yes, I’ve been meaning to tell you that for awhile, just kept forgetting.

      I guess I’ll add “see Versailles primp-chaise” and “see the rest of this chair’s matched furniture” to my bucket list. (I don’t really like using that word but Europe is so much further than it was when I lived in NY.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Freewheeling in the late 1700s: marie antoinette field trip II (part 2) | tiaras and trianon

  4. aubrey says:

    Honestly, who would not want to be hoisted onto a rococo cloud of ribbons and ruches? And in the course of that divine preparation wouldn’t we all want to recline on such a dainty filigree of wood and paint? And such a pretty little cushion on which to rest your feet!

    You would hardly notice your waist being crushed to 20 inches – surely it would be worth it, just to wear one of those ephemeral gown and to enjoy without shame an evening of foolishness and splendor!

    Like

it's not just a love-affair with my own voice

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