(active 1630s in Paris)

Interior view

c. 1635
Château d'Oiron, (Deux-Sèvres)

In seventeenth-century French architecture the interior layout of private quarters followed the three-room principle of antechamber, bedchamber (with or without alcove) and cabinet. The latter was the most intimate and withdrawn, but not necessarily the smallest room. It was usually decorated in a deliberate, original way. The importance accorded cabinets is reflected in the gilded and painted wainscoting that framed the paintings on display, accompanied by sculpted decoration.

A typical examples include the cabinet of Maréchale de la Meilleraye at the Arsenal in Paris and the Cabinet des Muses at Oiron (shown on the photo).

In fact, practically no noble or wealthy bourgeois dwelling lacked a room of this type. These private rooms, comparable to Italian studioli, were somewhat secret places where rare objects and collector's items would be displayed. Cabinets were a more worldly version of the Wunderkammern fashionable around 1600.

The decorative program of the cabinets was conceived to be highly meaningful. At the Hotel Lambert, for instance, Eustache Le Sueur was successively commissioned to decorate three rooms, all with eloquent themes: a Cabinet de l'Amour, a Cabinet des Muses, and a hidden bathroom.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.