France, First Empire (1804-1814)
Mahogany, gilt bronze
Git of Mademoiselle Fournier, 1904
© Les Arts Décoratifs / photo: Jean Tholance
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The “sleigh” bed, with its distinctive curves and identical ends, was a French invention that appeared during the Directoire and became very fashionable during the Empire and Restoration. The one shown here is made of mahogany and gilt bronze and dates from 1805-1810. Its particularly ornate decoration is based on the theme of sleep, related to its function: the garland of poppy leaves on the crosspiece, and above all the depictions of Psyche who, according to Greek mythology, only saw the young god Eros at night. She is also symbolized by the butterflies, at which the two huntresses at the bottom of the bed aim their arrows.