Luxury Design, Past & Present
An antique French Art Nouveau period walnut settee bench circa 1900 with excellent carving and proportion freshly upholstered in Brunschwig & Fils cut velvet. This French settee or bench is an unusual combination of strict architectural lines seen on the back and the seat while the arms and legs embody the sensuous sweep of the rococo period made so justly famous during the reign of Louis XV (1723-1774). Please look at the upper left and right corners of the upright back to see the notched design that frames the horizontal line between the upper corners and the vertical lines of each side. This geometric precision is enhanced with a recessed groove that also travels along the same path and creates a double panel in the back divided by a vertical stile. At the top and bottom of the stile is a raised oval medallion and the symmetrical placement directly in the centre emphasizes the balance of the entire back. The flat planes of the back and seat are set in direct contrast to the voluptuous quality of the arms and legs that support the settee with their extravagant curves. The undulating sweep of the arms and legs is created by the continuous line of the arm and leg and apron as there is not a single straight line to be seen but only the appearance of a single curve. The curve of each arm and leg is emphasized by the inclusion of a raised and carved medallion at the knee of each leg and a stylized scroll and shell in the middle of each section of the apron on both the front and each side. Note that the six cabriole legs all terminate in a fantastic "coquille" or shell shaped foot that repeat the circularity of the arms and legs. A unique aspect of this settee is its shallow depth that indicates it was originally designed for an interior hallway. In order to give the settee additional strength and stability the six legs are joined by a stretcher that echoes the angular shape of the back and seat. Again placed directly in the centre of the stretcher is a raised medallion similar to the pair seen in the back but repeated here on a larger scale. The repetition of motifs is a particularly powerful design choice seen in better quality craftsmanship as it is chosen by a trained eye in the decorative arts. The settee has been freshly upholstered in a dynamic monochrome geometric woven fabric from the famous house of Brunschwig et Fils to complete its elegant and stylish appearance.