Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Récamier / Grecian couch

A French 19th-centruy Directoire or Empire chaise (French for "side chair") lounge named for Mme Récamier. Also popular in the Federal era.

A classic type of of reclining couch with one end slightly higher than the other and gracefully curved.

Couch with klismos back.

Called a Grecian couch in contemporary descriptions, it is based on Greek or Roman examples, but with shortened legs suited to American taste of the early 1800s.

It is a fine expression of the Neoclassical style flourishing at that time.

Mme Récamier

Jeanne Françoise Julie Adélaïde Récamier (1777-1849), a famous Frenchwoman in the literary and political circles of the early 19th century.

Her maiden name was Bernard. She was married at fifteen to the banker Jacques Récamier (d. 1830), who was more than old enough to be her father. Indeed, he was almost certainly her father. The marriage would have been a way of allowing her to inherit his fortune without endangering her honor. This would also explain why all evidence points to the marriage never having been consummated.

From the early days of the consulate to almost the end of the July monarchy her salon in Paris was one of the chief resorts of literary and political society that pretended to fashion. The habitués of her house included many former royalists. This circumstance, together with her refusal to act as lady-in-waiting to the Empress Josephine and her friendship for Madame de Staël, brought her under suspicion.

Madame Récamier was eventually exiled from Paris by Napoleon's orders. After a short stay at Lyon she proceeded to Rome, and finally to Naples.

Her husband had sustained heavy financial losses in 1805, and she visited Madame de Staël at Coppet in Switzerland. The
re was a project for her divorce, in order that she might marry Prince Augustus of Prussia, but though her husband was willing, it was not arranged. In her later days she lost most of the rest of her fortune.

See 1800 painting of Mme Récamier by Jacques-Louis David.

See 1802 painting of Mme Récamier by François Pascal Simon Gérard


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