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Louis XIV announces "seated" his marriage with Marquise de Maintenon

The Palace of Versailles, where Molière triumphed, had been conceived as a fabulous scene. The King’s own life was a show. Louis XIV so much liked to live in the public view that he allowed access to any stranger who wanted to attend the ceremonies of the royal life: the awakening of the King, the lunch or outdoor walks. Thus indulged himself to announce his marriage to Marquise de Maintenon, seated in his business chair (an euphemism that refers to the most elemental of the comforts). To penetrate the royal apartments was no more than renting a hat and a...

The wingback chair of the Eternal Father

A good armchair is a sign of distinctive authority. In old times it was reserved for the patriarch, today women should proclaim their conquest of equality, sitting in the house wingchair. Interestingly, the most famous of all the wingback chairs – made in Italy since 1912 by a craftsman from Turin named Renzo Frau – had a feminine name (the “Poltrona Frau”). Upholstered with a smooth leather or capitonnée, the Frau armchairs created an unforgettable style in bourgeois homes. They became a symbol of wellbeing and power. The advertising was also original, as...

A chair for a hat

One of the rules of Hispanic etiquette, when you “capitulate” visits, was to show great admiration for the hat of the visitor. Arabs and Jews that inhabit the branches of our family tree could dutifully explain the reasons for this Eastern custom. “The courtesy that is paid to the hat of a particular gentleman - observes the great traveler Richard Ford – is remarkable, especially among the good provincial people: it is not permitted to have it in the hand or leave it on the floor. The friendly owner of the house excels in this crucial rite of hospitality, takes...

Take two seats

Charles de Morny was a famous French politician and banker, related to all of the aristocracy (he was the half-brother of Napoleon III). To explain his origins, he cynically said: “In my family we are bastards from parents to children. I am the great-grandson of a king, grandson of a bishop, son of a queen and brother of an emperor”. He did honor the descendants of the family, leaving numerous bastards: some well checked and others attributed by legend, such as Sarah Bernhardt. He inspired the character Monsieur Marsy in the novel His Excellency Eugene Rougon by...

The chairs of geniuses

Salvador Dalí wore a 41; but when he painted, to stimulate his creativeness, he wore smaller shoes, specifically size 38. The discomfort activated ingenuity. In his Weimar home, Goethe wrote while sitting on a wooden trestle, like the “pommel horses” used by athletes in the Olympics. Rilke wrote standing up, at a high desk, also recited standing up and only sat to read. And in the Achilleion – the palace that Sisi built in Corfu – the office that Kaiser Wilhelm II used is preserved, with a kind of saddle where he sat to write.

The Ritz Hotel's chairs and bathtubs

Thanks to Edward VII, who had the habit of bathing in the company of his friends, hotel bathtubs became more comfortable. In view of complaints of discomfort of the bathtubs from the voluminous prince, Caesar Ritz decided to make them wider and more comfortable. The brilliant Ritz had solutions for everything. And just like how he commissioned the large bathtubs, he ordered the manufacturing of small furniture, when he dealt with more intimate spaces. Like this he decorated the Rue Cambon bar in his luxurious Place Vendome hotel in Paris. As the space was...
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