A pair of decorative "pineapple" centerpieces

France, circa 1805.

 

MATERIALS : Mahogany, ormolu, patinated steel plate.

 

DIMENSIONS : H. 62 cm. (24 ½ in.) ; W. 20 cm. (8 in.).

 

PROVENANCE : Former Haynauer collection.


Each centerpiece features a square mahogany planter on ball feet, decorated with elegant ormolu ornaments, such as flower crowns on the sides and turned finials on the upper corners. An impressive ormolu pineapple with its long, thick leaves rises from the stem, little steel plate leaves crown the fruit.

 

The pair of centerpieces once belonged to the collection of the famous decorator Haynauer. It stood on a cabinet in one of his livingrooms, as can be seen on a picture taken in the fifties, published in Olivier Quéant’s Plaisir de France : «  Styles de France. Meubles et ensembles de 1610 à 1920 », Paris, n.d., p. 202, repr.


In 1555 Jean de Léry discovered pineapple in Brazil, after which the fruit was exported to Great Britain. In France however, pineapples were not produced before the 1730’s, well during the reign of King Louis XV. At this time, the exotic fruit appeared in the royal gardens and decorated the great tables of aristocrats, only to become rare again during the Revolution, consulate and empire periods.

 

A symbol of true exotism at the turn of the 19th century, its form inspired a lampmaker called Marchand to create a lamp in which the pineapple was placed in a flared wooden box. He published it in a booklet, which once belonged to the collection of the historian Henry-René d’Allemagne (1863-1950) and which was partly reproduced in Gabriel Henriot’s Le luminaire. De la Renaissance au XIXeme siècle (Tome VI – XIXe siècle, Paris, 1933, pl. 205, fig. 2). Marchand’s lamp served as a model for our pair of centerpieces