Chaise en prie-dieu
Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené (French, 1747–1803)
Overall: 94 x 60.6 x 57.2 cm (37 x 23 7/8 x 22 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Ann and William Elfers Gallery (Gallery 245)
Part of a complete set of gilded wood furniture, delivered in 1787 to Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d’Avray. Part of a suite of bedroom furniture (including Bed 21.1265, Bergere 26.640, Firescreen 27.533, 2 Armchairs 50.2342, 53.2851, and 4 Side Chairs 27.524, 27.525, 47.244, and 53.2850)
Chairs with low seats and high backs with padded rails had various functions, depending on their location. This chair, ordered as apart of a set of bedroom furnishings, likely served as a kneeling chair for saying prayer. Voyeuses were also used in gaming rooms; the spectators knelt on the seat and rested their arms on the padded rails of backs while observing games of cards or roulette.
1787, delivered to Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d'Avray, intendant-general of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, Paris [see note 1]; 1792, seized by the French government [see note 2]. 1794-1796, acquired in Paris by James Swan, Boston, MA [see note 3]; after 1796, with his wife Hepzibah Clark Swan (d. 1825), Dorchester, MA; 1825, after her death, by inheritance to one of her three daughters; by inheritance to her descendants, Mrs. Helen Howard Hudson Whipple and Mrs. Alice Wayland Hudson White [see note 4]; 1953, gift of Mrs. Helen Howard Hudson Whipple and Mrs. Alice Wayland Hudson White. (Accession date: September 10, 1953)
 see Howard Rice, "Notes on the Swan Furniture," MFA Bulletin, Vol 38, p. 36-48.  After the downfall of the monarchy on August 10, 1792, Thierry was imprisoned and his belongings were seized. He died in the massacres at the Prison de l'Abbaye in September, 1792.  James Swan was a merchant established in Paris, and was appointed an official agent for the purchase of supplies in the United States in 1794 by the French Government. His partner was Johann-Caspar Schweizer, a Swiss. According to Howard Rice, the French Government placed at his disposal luxury goods to be exchanged in America for food supplies and war materials. The Swan and Schweizer agency shipped these articles to the United States between 1794-1795, where much of it was sold. However, this piece was among those that Swan kept for his personal use. See H. Rice "James Swan, Agent of the French Republic 1794-1796" The New England Quarterly, Vol. X, No. 3, Sept. 1937, p. 464-486.  The three daughters of James and Hepzibah Swan were Mrs. John T. Sargent, Mrs. William Sullivan, and Mrs. John C. Howard, all of Boston, MA.
Gift of Mrs. Helen Howard Hudson Whipple and Mrs. Alice Wayland Hudson White