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sabre-shaped legs and curved tablet top-rail of the Greek klismos chair based on designs found on ancient vase paintings (Figure 4a) and, by 1804, Pierre de La Mésangère was illustrating voluted armed chairs5 capturing the spiral motifs of the ancient Greek and Roman capitals (Figure 4b). Together Percier, Fontaine and Mésangère produced almost 500 furniture illustrations and it was these images that became the templates for the French Empire Style.


Figure 4 – Classical Greek Design Influences Sources: British Museum (GR 1772.3-20.26) and Chippendale’s Director (pl. III)


French fashions, in common with the French language, had been adopted by the English aristocracy as a symbol of ambition and class since the fourteenth century. And so it was in the eighteenth century when Robert Campbell6 (1747, p.171) wrote, „He who first hits upon any new whim, is sure to make by the Invention before it becomes common in the Trade; but he must always wait for a new Fashion till it comes from Paris‟. The Seven Years‟ War with France had curtailed British enthusiasm for French fashion but by 1783, when the Prince of Wales had decided to rebuild Carlton House7, it was the neo-classical architecture and furnishings of the French court that provided the inspiration. Henry Holland, the architect appointed by the Prince to oversee the project, was a staunch advocate of the emerging


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