One of the largest Baroque palaces in Germany

Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

Dressers and chairs from Paris. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, David Franck
Inspiration from Paris

French furniture in

Ludwigsburg

In the 18th century, a well-appointed palace was furnished and decorated with pieces from Paris, the center of highest-quality artisan craftsmanship. Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg also purchased French furniture. He had additional furniture made in the French style by his court carpenters.

Dresser from Paris, circa 1745/50. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, SV Ludwigsburg

Dresser by Parisian master Jacques-Philippe Carel.

Craftsmanship or art?

Furniture manufacturing advanced to an art form under King Louis XIV of France. The best masters of the furniture guilds worked for the Sun King, who placed the work of cabinet makers on par with that of other artists. Beginning in the mid-18th century, Parisian cabinet makers branded their pieces with a personal stamp mark. This was to prevent the sale of inferior furniture. Today, these marks help researchers determine the origin of individual pieces.

Writing cabinet from Paris, circa 1770/75. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Ralf Cohen

Writing cabinet by René Dubois in Carl Eugen's apartment.

Living according to social status

In the 18th century, Paris was a European center for the manufacture of luxury items. For many sovereigns, it was considered befitting their rank to outfit their palaces with French furniture. Württemberg's duke was also in Paris several times, furniture buying. These were considered prestige items, first and foremost. This is evidenced by the minimal signs of wear found on the surviving pieces at Ludwigsburg today. Stamp marks indicate the origin of these pieces, including 16 stamps of Parisian cabinet makers and a Parisian carpenter.

Dressers and chairs from Paris. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, David Franck

Dresser by Jean-Baptiste Hédouin.

A Strasbourg supplier

Paris was the first stop for expensive furniture; however, the Württemberg court acquired the majority of its necessary furniture at significantly less expense from nearby Strasbourg. Over the course of the 17th century, after France conquered the Alsace, Alsatian craftsmen adopted French techniques. A merchant, Gerard Walther, played a central role in furniture buying, bringing furniture from Strasbourg manufacturers to Württemberg. Records indicate that Duke Carl Eugen also ordered furniture from him and even paid him a visit in Strasbourg in 1786.

Armchairs from Paris, circa 1760. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth

"En cabriolet" seating suite from Paris.

French influence at the Württemberg court

Although Duke Carl Eugen purchased furniture from Paris and Strasbourg, the royal court carpenters likely produced the majority of the necessary furniture themselves. However, these carpenters paid attention to the most current fashions from France. Modern pieces from Paris were imported and then replicated by the furniture carpenters at court. Duke Carl Eugen also employed the French-born Louis Rofer and the Parisian Michel Fressancourt, who manufactured seating and console tables, among other things.

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