Marie Antoinette’s Furniture Is Up for Auction
Two items represent two distinctive stages in the French queen’s life
Two pieces of furniture that belonged to the French queen Marie Antoinette are going to auction this week. A chest of drawers and a chair, two items from two distinctive stages of her life, are estimated to sell for $832,000 to $1.25 million and $104,000 to $208,000, respectively.
The 250-year-old chest of drawers was made for the Austrian-born queen-to-be when she was just 15, shortly after she arrived in France and before she wed Louis XVI. The chair was the last order the queen ever placed before she was overthrown during the French Revolution. Both pieces are part of Christie’s Exceptional Sale in Paris on November 22.
The two items, though made only about 20 years apart, represent not only different times in Marie Antoinette’s life, but also two very different styles of furniture.
The chest of drawers was made around 1770 in a Chinese-inspired style. “Only 15 years old and recently uprooted from the Viennese court, the future sovereign surrounded herself as soon as she entered the court of France with objects and furniture from this European fever for chinoiseries,” the auction house writes in the lot essay accompanying the piece, per Google Translate.
By contrast, the chair was commissioned just five years before the unlucky monarch would be executed. It arrived at the palace in 1788, designed in what Christie’s calls “the pseudo-classical ‘Etruscan’ manner.”
“This style was inspired by archaeological objects discovered in southern Italy during the second half of the 18th century, which were wrongly thought to have been made by the Etruscans at the time of their discovery,” writes Christie’s on its website. “Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were particularly fond of this new style.”
Popular interest in the queen’s lavish belongings continues to endure. Last year, a pair of diamond bracelets that belonged to her sold for over $8 million at auction. In 2018, her pearl and diamond necklace broke records, fetching some $36 million.
“An insatiable appetite for expensive things may have contributed to her losing her head during the French Revolution,” writes Town & Country’s Leena Kim, “but if one were to tally up the stratospheric prices Marie Antoinette’s treasures command when they occasionally surface at auction, it would seem the fallen queen is more than getting her posthumous karmic redemption.”
According to Christie’s, the armchair—along with thousands of other items—was sold soon after the queen’s death in 1793.