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— Adam Gopnik
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July 27, 2014

Paris in July: Je t'adore...

      In those places where the age of comfort began, the age of furniture got its start. Only a few decades later, people owned more than a few pieces of furniture. And once they did, furniture quickly moved beyond the utilitarian and into the realm of style and fashion. In 1769, [cabinetmaker Andre Jacob] Roubo felt able to pronounce that 'it is disgraceful for one's furniture not to be as up-to-date [a la mode] as one's clothing.' Furniture also entered the domain of comfort. And as soon as these ideas were in place, artists began to depict a new experience:  people in love with their furniture.
      The golden age of French furniture was also a golden age for French engraving. An astonishing number of plates, images that show off the latest ways to furnish a room, as well as various kinds of endearing behavior that furniture seemed to inspire in the first people able to enjoy private life in a private space. This scene features a fashionable woman in her equally fashionable interior. She is looking fondly -- not, as one might expect, at the handsomely turned-out suitor seen in the doorway holding out his hands and gazing longingly at her, but ... at her sofa.  Sofas were then still relatively new, and this is a recent model -- one of two that were vying for sofa supremacy -- and it clearly 'works' with its surroundings, fitting neatly beneath the mythological scene on the wall above. She touches her fan to her face in reverie as she gazes at it, as if lost in her pleasure at the way her interior has turned out.

from The Age of Comfort:  when Paris discovered casual --
and the modern home began
, by Joan DeJean

{I know, but it would be so perfect with the chairs...}

      And last, but surely not least, upholstered furniture and easy seats had become essential to private life, to companionate  moments, to the life of mind. Think of the image the women in love with one of the original sofas:  as she gazes at the sofa, she's holding a letter in her hand; her desk is set up for writing, and sheets are scattered all over its surface. Her beloved sofa is part of an interior designed to favor the development of an interior life....

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