In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, notaries in charge of compiling probate inventories and other records spent an overwhelmingly greater time listing and describing...textiles! On the whole, textiles were the most expensive and valuable furnishings that a person could own. I've definitely come to better appreciate them, especially as they relate to furniture. After all, what is a bed without bedhangings or an upholstered armchair without upholstery?
Taking a Louis XIV-era fauteuil, or armchair, as an example, the choice of upholstery textile could dramatically increase the value and prestige of seat, perhaps even more so than its elaborate carving.
The seizure papers for Intendant Claude-Thomas Dupuy's estate are replete with documentation of furnishing textiles- the "soft furnishings" that I posted on earlier this summer- including type, color, and even geographic origin. If only the adjectives used to describe other objects in the palace were more descriptive! At the intendant's palace, point de Hongrie textiles were among the most visually striking kind used, figuring on everything from bed curtains to curtain tie-backs (either for a bed or for window curtains or portières). This post is a brief introduction to point de Hongrie, or Hungarian stitch. This type of needlepoint embroidery is characterized by a series of chevron shapes, achieved using a mathematical stitch pattern, and is sometimes referred to as flame-stitch or Bargello work.