Louis XVI period, Paris, circa 1785.
Marked with irons: EU under royal crown, surmounting the inventory numbers 1558 and 1559, visible on the left side of each light.
H. 54.5 x W. 37.5 cm.
- Probably Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès (1753-1824), duke of Parma, from the hotels of Elbeuf and Roquelaure before 1816.
- Collection of the Dowager Duchess of Orléans, born Louise-Marie-Adélaïde de Bourbon-Penthièvre (1753-1821).
- By descent, to her son Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (1773-1850), future King Louis-Philippe Ist, at the Château d'Eu from 1821.
- Mentioned in the 1841 inventory of the Château d'Eu (French National Archives, 300 AP 1-1595) in the "Bedroom of Her Majesty the Queen".
- Probably sales of the estate of King Louis-Philippe, Christie's London, May 5, 1853 or June 5-6, 1857.
- With Perrin Gallery, Paris.
- Private collection, France.
An inventory of the King's furniture storage at the Château d'Eu, listing the entries before 1841, mentions our lights in the apartments of Queen Marie-Amélie, and more specifically in the "Bedroom of Her Majesty the Queen". (National Archives, 300 AP 1-1595):
- 1558 1 bras doré, forme ancienne, surmonté d'un vase, 2 lumières.
- 1559 1 bras idem (ditto).
The traceability of our pair of lights is almost certain from 1816, by its presence in the 1841 inventory, but it remains unestablished for the previous period. However, certain observations legitimately allow us to trace their history, going back to the time of their manufacture under the reign of Louis XVI (1774-1792).
Very different from the Louis-Philippe style of the Queen's bedroom at the Château d'Eu, our wall-lights described as "old form" in the 1841 inventory are unquestionably from the Louis XVI period, the work of carving the gilt bronze being even of a very high quality. It is very likely that they come from the estate of King Louis-Philippe's mother, the Dowager Duchess of Orléans, daughter of the Duke of Penthièvre.
Indeed, Louis-Philippe and his sister Adélaïde inherited from their mother an important real estate and furniture heritage, including several pieces of furniture and works of art from illustrious sources, from the Louis XVI period, which they will distribute between the Palais Royal and the castle of Eu. These objects come partly from the collections of the Duke of Penthièvre, and partly from the Hôtel de Roquelaure in Paris, purchased in 1816 by the Dowager Duchess of Orléans from the Archchancellor of the Empire Régis de Cambacérès (1753 -1824), forced into exile. Napoleon had previously endowed Cambacérès with a first Parisian residence, the Hôtel d'Elbeuf, while furnishing it by drawing on the reserves of the former garde-meuble Royal, rich in heritage coming in particular from emigrants.
This is how prestigious and high-quality, almost royal, furniture was found in Eu and in the Orléans palaces, like the encoignures by Levasseur, made for Mesdames, daughters of Louis XV, in Bellevue, which were found at the Palais Royal during the Restauration (Sotheby's sale, Monaco, July 1, 1995, lot 105). The same applies to a series of armchairs from the Louis XVI period, white lacquered, by J.-B. Sené, with the marks of the Château d'Eu, four of which recently went on sale from the Hôtel de Cambacérès, then from the Pierre Durand collection (Christie's sale, New York, January 27, 2022, lot 136, sold for $62,500). Even more recently, in the sale of the Givenchy collection, an Empire period armchair by Jacob-Desmalter enjoyed the same provenance (Christie's, Paris, June 17, 2022, lot 196).
The castle of Eu
Located in the Bresle valley which separates Normandy from Picardy, four kilometers from Le Tréport (Seine-Maritime), the Château d'Eu was the favorite residence of Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (Paris, 1773-Claremont, 1850 ), “King of the French” under the name of Louis-Philippe 1er from 1830 to 1848.
He had it restored and refurbished in 1821 with new apartments, "reconstructions" in the Renaissance and Louis XIII styles and galleries of "historical portraits" which already announced the King's future achievements at the Palace of Versailles. It was at Eu that Louis-Philippe received Queen Victoria twice in 1843 and 1845.
The residence whose history dates back to medieval times was, before Louis-Philippe, the object of numerous restructurings. It fell as a dowry in 1570 to Henri 1er de Guise, known as le Balafré (1549-1588). The Duke undertook the construction of the current castle in 1578 on the plans of the Leroy brothers, natives of Beauvais. The estate remained in the prerogative of the Guise family until 1660. Seized, it was sold by decree on August 24, 1661 to Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans (1627-1693), Duchess of Montpensier and cousin of Louis XIV, known as the Grande Mademoiselle:
“I arrived very late, she writes in her Memoirs, I went down to the church.
The chateau seemed beautiful to me […] One can judge by what M. de Guise had built there what he wanted to do there; there is only half of the house made and part of the dwellings of the counts of Eu who were from the house of Artois.
The situation is very beautiful, you can see the sea from all its apartments […]”.
The Duchess of Montpensier extended the buildings considerably and created gardens. She made frequent visits to Eu, including one of eighteen months, perhaps a little long in her opinion: she was then exiled for having refused to marry the King of Portugal. In 1681, in the hope of freeing the Duc de Lauzun, imprisoned by order of Louis XIV in the fortress of Pignerol (Italy, Piedmont) and for whom she had a mad passion, Mademoiselle gave up the Château d'Eu to the Duc du Maine , son of the King and Madame de Montespan.
It was in Eu that the Prince of Dombes and the Count of Eu, son of the Duke of Maine, were exiled in 1720 following the conspiracy of Cellamare (Spanish ambassador to the Court of France, Antonio del Giudice ( 1657-1733), Prince of Cellamare, conspired in vain with the Duke and Duchess of Maine to seat the King of Spain Philip V on the throne of France in place of the Regent).
After that, the castle was hardly inhabited until the Duke of Penthièvre, the first fortune of France and heir to his cousin in 1776, became the owner of the residence. This was seized during the Revolution and the furniture sold at auction. The buildings were under the Empire assigned to the senatory of Rouen.
It was not until the Restoration (1815-1830) that the castle was returned to the Dowager Duchess of Orléans, daughter of the Duke of Penthièvre, and mother of Louis-Philippe.
Queen Marie-Amélie's bedroom was installed on the first floor of the castle, in the south pavilion added around 1665 by the Grande Mademoiselle to the already existing buildings built by Catherine de Clèves and Henri 1er de Guise. This pavilion gave the residence an overall symmetry that did not exist originally.
The decor of this room is known to us today from both manuscript and iconographic sources.
It is first described in the already mentioned inventory of Louis-Philippe's furniture storage listing the entries into the castle before 1841 and in which are described our two wall lights at numbers 1558 and 1559.
This decoration is also mentioned in an inventory of the paintings of the Château d'Eu drawn up in May 1848 and now preserved in the Archives of the Louvre (39 DD 2) which shows us an "exploded view" of the room indicating with precision the location of the various paintings that were there at the time.
An unsigned watercolour, acquired on June 12, 1989 by the town of Eu for its museum and coming from the inheritance of the Duke of Nemours (inv. n° 989-8-1), brings us a faithful transcription in three dimensions of the manuscript sources mentioned above. This room, which the Queen shared with the King, had an arcade opening onto the boudoir (in which the spectator is supposed to be) which was decorated with eight portraits of princes and princesses of Bourbon and Conti.
The first part of the bedroom was distinguished by a curious four-sided plan which was in fact superimposed on that of the chapel on the ground floor. This room was adorned with a fireplace surmounted by a mirror, clearly visible in the watercolour, and three large portraits showing the constable of Bourbon, his wife and his sister.
The recessed recesses on either side of the alcove, invisible here, were also decorated with portraits: the King's father, brothers and sisters to the south, and the King's paternal and maternal grandparents to the north.
As for the back of the alcove, a large part of which can be seen, it was lined with portraits dear to the Queen: in the upper part, the first grandchildren, the Count of Paris, the Prince of Württemberg, Princess Charlotte, the Duke of Brabant, the Duke of Chartres and the Count of Eu; in the middle, the princes and sons of the Queen, the Duke of Orléans (died in 1842 in a tragic car accident in Neuilly), the Duke of Nemours (first owner of the watercolor), the Prince of Joinville, the Duke d'Aumale, the Duc de Montpensier, the Duc de Penthièvre (died at eight years old) and the husband of Princess Louise, King Léopold of the Belgians; finally, at the top, the King and Queen, Madame Adélaïde and the Princesses Clémentine, Louise, Marie and Françoise (died at two years old).
The draperies and upholstery were crimson damask, with windows lined with white muslin curtains and white drill blinds.
The 1841 inventory allows us to get a precise idea of the furniture in the room, part of which has now returned to the castle in the form of purchases and various donations: a large bed, two armchairs covered in crimson damask, two small stools, two chests of drawers, a console, a desk with compartments, two tables, two bedside tables, two pedestal tables.
This furniture was made of twisted oak and adorned with brass.
Added to this were a rosewood fireplace screen, visible in the watercolor, and mahogany furnishings with a small daybed slid into the side of the alcove, a prie-dieu and two English armchairs upholstered in crimson damask . An ivory chessboard, a mahogany letter box, a lacquer work box, a black and gold marble clock "Renaissance form", as well as a "six-leaf wire mesh fire guard", also visible on watercolor, completed this set.
Lighting for the bedroom was provided by an eight-light bronze chandelier, complemented by our two "old form" two-light arms, i.e. Louis XVI, ten candlesticks and two candelabra. The latter, which flanked the clock on the mantel, trim visible in the watercolor, were acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, in 1986 (bearing the numbers 1561 and 1562, they had been sold for the first time by Christie's in London, May 5, 1853).
A hypothesis was put forward by Madame Martine Bailleux-Delbecq, former director of the Château d'Eu, in her article published in the Revue du Louvre in 1990 and on which we base our present study (see "La chambre de la Reine Marie-Amélie at the Château d'Eu from a watercolour", La Revue du Louvre, 1-1990, pp. 22-25). The watercolor could indeed have been only a preparatory study for another watercolor (fig. 4), very similar and more complete, belonging to the album offered by King Louis-Philippe to Queen Victoria, during of his visit to Windsor Castle in October 1844 (the album is still there today). This watercolour, signed by Siméon Fort and Franz Xaver Winterhalter, shows three queens in full discussion at the entrance to the Queen's chamber: Victoria, Queen of England, Louise, Queen of the Belgians, and Marie-Amélie, Queen of the French.
The armchairs are no longer arranged in the same way, the small stools with mahogany legs, mentioned in the inventory, are clearly visible, but not the chandelier, nor our wall lights; the representation of the light is often voluntarily banned from this type of scene so as not to weigh down the clarity of reading.
The major campaign of works carried out between 1875 and 1877 by the architect Viollet-le-Duc at the request of the Count of Paris, did not affect the apartment of Queen Marie-Amélie. Only the paintings had been removed from their frames when Louis-Philippe fell in 1848.
A photograph taken just before the terrible fire of November 11, 1902 which ravaged the entire south wing of the château, sparing only the bathroom and the parquet floor of the boudoir, shows that the painted portraits had been replaced by a collection of Hispano ceramics. -Moorish.
The photograph, taken by W. and A.H. Fry, based in Brighton, England, distinctly shows the star-shaped marquetry parquetry, the work of the Englishman Georges Packham, the light marble fireplace, the painted picture rails and the omnipresence of the figures of the Grande Mademoiselle and the Orléans family (three gold fleur-de-lys on an azure background, topped with a silver label).
Although destroyed in the fire of 1902, this room, whose volumes remain, is today precisely the subject of a project to restore its decor as Queen Marie-Amélie knew it during the July Monarchy ( 1830-1848).
- Inventaire après-décès de la Duchesse douairière d'Orléans en 1821, bibliothèque Marmottan, MS 3019.
- Christian Baulez, La rue Saint-Dominique, hôtels et amateurs. Exh. cat., Hôtel Rodin, Paris, 11 October-20 December 1984, p. 168.
- Martine Bailleux-Delbecq, La chambre de la reine Marie-Amélie au château d'Eu d'après une aquarelle, La Revue du Louvre, 1-1990, pp. 22-25.