Summer Presentation Explores Turkish Taste at the Court of Marie-Antoinette

small console table made of gilded wood and marble,  with supporting figures of Nubians, c.1780
By the late eighteenth century, France had long been fascinated by the Ottoman empire. Trade with Turkish territories had gone on for centuries, bringing precious velvets, brocades, carpets, arabesque-decorated leathers, and metalwork to the Continent. In the fall of 1776, a performance of Mustapha and Zeangir, a tragedy in five acts by Sebastien-Roch Chamford that played in Paris, seems to have launched a taste for interiors à la turque, or “in the Turkish style.” Soon after, boudoirs turcs were created in several royal residences, especially by those in the circle of Marie-Antoinette and the comte d’Artois, Louis XVI’s younger brother. This taste was confined largely to the royal court and the French aristocracy, and few objects from such rooms survive today. In the summer of 2011, the Frick will present a dossier exhibition on the subject, bringing together several examples that have rarely—or, in some cases, never—been on view in New York City.

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