Sunday, 11 August 2013

A less important chair belonging to Voltaire

Illustration from Catalogue of
Napoleonic relics
(1901). See below.
 Voltaire's "Library Chair", which had extendable arms and an adjustable book rest, used to be exhibited prominently at Madame Tussaud's. It was purchased, interestingly enough, from the collection of Lady Morgan (perhaps on her death in 1859?).

A replica of the chair found its way into the library of Czar Alexander II; and featured in a picture published by a London paper at the time of his assassination in 1881.

Sadly the chair would have been destroyed  in the fire which devastated Tussaud's Marylebone premises in 1925 and completely gutted the Napoleonic Rooms. 


Catalogue of Napoleonic Relics, pictures, works of art and other curiosities, Madame Tussaud & sons (1901)

"This relic of one of the most illustrious men of letters of modern times was purchased at the sale of the collection of Lady Morgan, well known in her day as a novelist and miscellaneous writer. During a stay in England the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia honoured Madame Tussaud's Exhibition with a visit, and was so much struck with this memento of the great writer that he requested Messrs.Tussaud to allow him to have a replica made. Two copies were accordingly made, and sent to Russia. One was presented by the Grand Duke to the Czar Alexander II, who gave it a place of honour in his library, and it was easily to be recognised in the views of this apartment which appeared in our illustrated papers at the time of the Czar's assassination. The folding book-rest may be made to slide all the way round the back of the chair". (p.29)

The Romance of Madame Tussaud by John Tussaud, Oldhams, 1926. contains a rather more embellished account (p.106-7)

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