Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Chaumière des Coquillages

A cottage built for the Princesse de Lamballe at Rambouillet. From Geri Walton:
After completion of the cottage’s construction, the salon was filled with custom-built furniture designed to fit the circular shape of the salon. The designer and creator of this furniture was François II Foliot. François took over the establishment (“au duc de Bretagne”) that his grandfather, Nicolas-Quinibert Foliot, had founded. In 1767, Nicolas-Quinibert had been the sole provider for furnishings at the royal residences of Versailles, Trianon, Compiegne, Fontainebleau, and Saint Hubert, so when François took the business over, he had a built-in client of well-to-do and rich patrons, such as the Duke.

A smaller room also exists inside the cottage. This room is rectangular in shape and functioned as boudoir or a changing room. You can enter one of two ways: Either inside from the salon or from outdoors through the smaller exterior door. This tiny room is painted with soft greens and pastels. There are also numerous individual framed moldings, as well as the ceiling, that contain paintings of flower and birds. A unique surprise awaited guests who came to the visit the Princess in the 1700s. At one end of the room, on either side of the large looking glass, there are two cupboards that previously held automatons said to be “negro figures that provided perfume or powder to visiting guests.”

The cottage was supposedly used by the princess to escape and enjoy quiet time. She enjoyed reading Italian poetry and perhaps she read in the cottage or she may have escaped to play her harp or to just be alone or spend time with friends. Later, when Rambouillet was purchased by Louis XVI in 1783, Marie Antoinette may have also entertained in the shell cottage or used it as a private escape on occasion.

When the French Revolution broke out, the chateau (and likely the shell cottage) were emptied of their furnishings and the estate neglected. Later, during the reign of Napoleon I, the Emperor visited the Rambouillet estate several times. Another royal connection to Rambouillet involves Charles X. He signed his abdication here and Rambouillet is where his exile started too. (Read more.)


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