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Wood and ormolu Empire-style récamier, French, mid-to-late 19th century


Definition: a type of light daybed, with a curved headboard and correspondingly scrolled, but usually shorter, footboard; originally backless, later versions often sported a low backrest, sometimes sloping, that ran either all or partly down the length of the piece; developed in France in the 1790s, it was named for Madame Récamier, a Parisian hostess and style-setter pictured reclining on one in a famed portrait (see photo, More Images); characteristic of French Directoire/Empire, English Regency, and American Federal styles

Pronunciation: ruh-cam-ee-ay

Also Known As: lit bateau (French), Grecian couch or daybed, chaise longue (generic)

Example: Though beautiful, the early Empire récamier was rather narrow, and so not as comfortable as it looked to stretch out on.

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