This is from le château de Versailles YouTube video clip.



La chaise aux marines 海の風景のセダンチェア

Published on 24 Jul 2012 by chateauversailles

English subtitles with Japanese translation 英語の字幕と和訳

This chair from early Louis XV’s reign, entirely covered with seascapes and featuring a masterful “trompe-l’oeil” gilt body is a fine example of forgotten art of the Ancient Regime : the sedan chair, which was made by the same craftsmen as carriages, including coach-builders, painter-varnishers, etc.


Two men would slip poles through iron rings on either side to carry this chair made of a wooden body covered with a thick leather top.


It has moving windows and seat on the inside.


This well-restored sedan chair is rare because it is entirely covered with painted canavas, in this case featuring seascapes in the style of Adrien Manglard.

このよく保存されたセダンチェアは珍しいものです。全体が彩色されたキャンバスで覆われ、この場合、 Adrien Manglard様式の海の風景が描かれているからです。

Sedan chairs usually displayed the owner’s coats of arms, letting people know who they were.


A port scene is on front panel.  The back panel depicts a big naval battle running the full height of the chair while the side panels feature monochrome river divinities, rivers and tritons.


France seems to have imported the sedan chair from England around 1640.  The vehicle, which was used for short trips, kept passengers out of bad weather and protected them from splattering mud and the horse droppings that fouled the streets.


That is why it earned a reputation for being favored particularly by great ladies, nobility of the robe and prelates of the Church.


The sedan chair also insulated its occupants from bustling streets and people, allowing them to assert their rank.


The sedan chair had many advantages : it was very easy to handle, convenient for short trips in the narrow streets of Paris and best of all, immediately available.


There was no needs for horses, stables, a shed and all the heavy infrastructure for coaches required.


It could be quickly and easily stowed under a landing at the bottom of staircase.


The sedan chair was also very economical, except for the purchase price and carriers’ fare.


It might have been a household’s only means of locomotion or a back-up if the owner possessed a coach, in which case his wife often used it.


But there were some drawbacks, the main one being lack of comfort.


A ride in one of these chairs was bumpy, especially if the carriers were inexperienced.  There was a risk of falls and quarrels.  Sometimes even brawls broke out between carriers when the right of way was refused.


Some chairs were private and public at the same time.  They began appearing in the early 17th century.  All the big cities of Europe had a chair hire service.  They could be let for short trips whose fare was set in advance.


Sedan chairs were part of the landscape at Versailles.  The vehicles were even used inside the Palace because they could reach as far as the foot of the king’s staircase.

スクリーンショット(2012-12-26 22.27.59)

Image: chateauversailles


These were the royal chairs, also know as blue chairs in reference to the colour of the king’s livery which could be hired for six soldes.


The French Revolution suddenly put an end to the thriving sedan chair trade.  Although no revolutionary law prohibited their use, they became a symbol of luxury,  class and the conspicuous display of wealth.


The sight of men carrying them like animals ran counter to the spirit of the times.


In 19th century high society the sedan chair became a piece of furniture, a beautiful family heirloom used for exhibiting small objects like a display case.