The recamier is essentially a French-Empire form of Grecian couch, popularized
and named after the famous painting by the French Neoclassicist, Jacques Louis
David of Madame Recamier reclining on a similar couch. This recamier was the personal property of
Joseph T. Butler and photographed in his book, American Antiques
1800-1900. (see scan), and was a favorite
of his for very good reason: it makes a visually vigorous statement…from fish to
birds. The crest rail, carved with rows of water leaves, terminate in the
profile of an eagle head (see detail). The recamier has oak leafage throughout, the
arm is developed with a dolphin with upraised tail (see detail).
The rectangular seat rail is carved with a repeating oak leaf motif. The shaped foot rail is carved with large and
anthemia on each side and all is raised on four fully carved sabre legs ending
in elaborate bronze casters.
This unusual American example is a veritable showcase of
Classical Greek and Roman motifs; the eagle, a symbol of power and authority was
associates with Jupiter and Zeus; the oak leaf was sacred because Zues’ oracle
of Dodona was located in an oak tree grove; the dolphin, a symbol of power of
the sea was associated with Venus and Neptune.
The waterleaf and anthemia, based on the lotus leaf were associated with
the power of the sun and the generation of life.
Height: 38 3/4 in. Length: 76
1/2 in. Depth: 17 in.