Sitting room furniture of Christoph Merian

Mainz(?), before 1855
Chairs: stained walnut, with velvet coverings
table: jacaranda, solid and veneered
cabinet: mahogany veneered over oak
Inv. 1986.123. 127.

This set of furniture for a living room has been preserved from the estate of Christoph Merian (1800-1858), the wealthiest citizen of Basle and probably also the richest man in Switzerland of his time. It consists of a settee, two armchairs, four upholstered chairs, one table and a cabinet. Other items from the possession of Christoph Merian are also preserved and are displayed with these. Two monumental portraits, which show Merian and his wife seated in these armchairs in 1855, demonstrate the value given to the furniture by its owners. It is characteristically historicist in returning to the Louis XV style and, more generally, to the taste of courtly society in the C18. In its homogeneity the suite corresponds to the ideal of bourgeois furniture propagated in the world exhibition of 1851 - a total harmony of all the elements of interior decoration. Mainz was a center for the production of such furniture, influenced by French taste. Christoph Merian's father had already in 1837/38 ordered large consignments of lamps in Paris and furniture in Mainz for the family's town residence, the Ernauerhof.

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