The Sérilly Cabinet, Paris

The Sérilly Cabinet, Paris

The Sérilly Cabinet is a masterpiece from the reign of Louis XVI. It is said to have been created for the Marquise de Sérilly, a favourite maid-of-honour to Queen Marie-Antoinette and wife of an army paymaster-general who was executed during the French Revolution. The room is square in plan with two projecting bays. It was designed as a garden pavilion and probably used by the marquise for entertaining her closest friends, perhaps for serving tea since the fireback shows a 'Chinaman' carrying a tea tray.

The decoration was probably carried out by the brothers Jules-Hugues and Jean-Simeon Rousseau de La Rottière, who were also responsible for Marie Antoinette's boudoir turc at Fontainebleau. Its 'grotesque' designs reflect the revived enthusiasm for classical decoration that resulted from the recent excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii. All the surfaces in the room are decorated with ornament representing the Elements and the Seasons, partly in relief. This is painted in various colours and embellished with gilding.