Ceremonial cradle of the Duc de Bordeaux

Ceremonial cradle of the Duc de Bordeaux

Félix Rémond (1779-after 1860), cabinetmaker
Jean-François Denière and François Thomas Matelin, bronze workers
Paris, 1819, Exhibition of Industrial Products
Carcase of oak, veneer and inlays of ash burl, elm burl, walnut and amaranth, gilt bronze
Long-term loan from the Mobilier National, 1927
Inv. MOB NAT GMEC 38
© Les Arts Décoratifs

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This ceremonial cradle was made to celebrate the birth of the long-awaited heir to the throne restored to the Bourbon family at the fall of the Napoleonic Empire in 1814. The cradle, commissioned in 1819 from the cabinetmaker Félix Rémond, was first used for Louise d’Artois, daughter of the Duc and Duchesse de Berry. The Duc de Berry, son of the Comte d’Artois – Louis XVI’s brother and the future King Charles X (1824-1830) – was assassinated in February 1820; seven months later on September 29, the Duchesse gave birth to the “miracle child” Henri-Dieudonné (1820-1883), Comte de Chambord and Duc de Bordeaux, who gave his name to the cradle.

The body of the cradle, suggesting the hull of a boat, is supported by four horns of plenty symbolizing the prosperity expected to come from the restoration of the monarchy. An impressive gilt bronze figure of Fame, crowned with natural fleurs-de-lis, stands at the bed head in preparation for flight, holding skyward a large horn of plenty overflowing with lilies, fruit and vegetables.

The cradle, designed to stand on a platform, is fixed in position and was not intended to rock; it was used to present a baby on official occasions.

The sides of the cradle are expertly inlaid with French wood, elm and ash burl and decorated with eight walnut medallions representing the Arts and Sciences, linked by garlands of gilt bronze flowers tied with ribbons and fleurs-de-lis. The medallions containing fleurs-de-lis at the bottom of the cradle were removed at an undetermined date; the gilt bronze fleurs-de-lis adorning the tunic of Fame and the royal crown above the French coat of arms at the foot of the cradle were removed or transformed into fleurons.

The interior of the cradle was upholstered in white velvet with silver braiding. Two green levantine silk drapes trimmed with gilt lilies were held in place with rings attached to the top of the horn of plenty. Two other gold-fringed muslin drapes, fixed to the wings of Fame, were held in place with silver tiebacks.

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