matching armchairs are fine examples of the 19th century revival in France of
interest in designs of the Middle Ages.
The armchairs are classic caquetoires – trapezoidal-shaped seat echoed
below in the stretcher. This shape, also
referred to ‘as in the manner of Tallemouze,’ is another charming example of
design evoking food: the ‘talmouse’ was
a triangular puff pastry dating from medieval times but now recognized as the
ancestor of the cheesecake.
The origin of the term caquetoire, however, is a bit sexist to the modern observer. According to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam,
the caquetoire was developed as a conversation chair for women (the French verb
“caqueter” means “to chat”). The broad,
trapezoidal seat accommodated wide dresses worn by ladies of the 16th century
who otherwise had been relegated to stools or windowseats (except in the case
of aristocracy and royalty) while their male counterparts sat on chairs.
Other features of the armchairs harking back to earlier times include the narrow back out of
which curving arms attach to posts in the shape of columns extending vertically
from the seat.
Characteristic Gothic flavor is found in the hand-carved tracery or fenestrage design of the
backs. In keeping with the medieval
belief that only God can make a perfect copy, the two backs are very different
but each incorporates standard elements of tracery such as slim lancet arches,
elliptical soufflets, and quatrefoils.
The tops are particularly interesting with the carved crocketing (stylized acanthus leaves)
along the central arch to the middle, from which a small toupie arises. Being oak, the carving is less refined and
more rugged than walnut but this works well with the very dark coloration and
sense of durability these chairs impart.
As with all the chairs we offer, these are sturdy and ready for at least another century of sitting