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Dr. Justine Lécuyer

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Justine Lécuyer has a PhD in Art History at Sorbonne Université - Centre André Chastel. Her academic research fields are decorative arts, history of technology and textile Furniture. Her doctoral dissertation, under the supervision of Professor Jérémie Cerman, focuses on the upholstery industry between 1848 and 1914. She perfected her education on textile at the Centre International des Textiles Anciens (CIETA) in Lyon. Her work is supported by fellowships from the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris, the Napoleon Foundation and the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Currently, she is temporary teaching and research associate (ATER) at Sorbonne Université.


Justine Lécuyer about her dissertation „The upholsterer-decorator from 1848 to 1914 : Continuity and changes of a profession at the heart of the French furniture industry", which was awarded with the Award for Early Career Research in the Applied Arts 2024:

Gemaltes Bild zeigt ein Schlafzimmer mit einem Himmelbett in der Mitte, goldverzierten Möbeln, lila TapetenDuring the second half of the 19th century, the upholsterer-decorator was a key figure in interior decoration. This thesis takes a cross-disciplinary approach, examining both the socio-economic environment of the profession and the creative history of its members. As a furniture dealer and decorator, the upholsterer designs, manufactures and installs the entire interior decor. This includes drapes, curtains, carpets and upholstery for seats, beds and fireplaces. As well as studying the economic, technical and social aspects of the profession and its organisation, our thesis analyses the work and production of upholsterers, from the introduction of fantasy and comfort to the attempts at revival at the turn of the 20th century. We look at their role in prescribing taste through the Universal Exhibitions and, in particular, the changes in their industry as a result of competition from cabinetmakers and department stores. Upholsterers were specialists in the use of textiles, and their work was quickly associated with the abundance of draperies and fringes. Yet behind the criticism levelled at the end of the 19th century at the supposed excesses of their work lies a rich and varied output. This study sheds new light on the decorative ensembles of these upholsterers and their artistic practice at the heart of a rapidly changing furniture industry.

[Caption: Deville, Jules, [Bedroom decoration], [1850-1880], Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Fonds Deville, Hd-110k. Photograph : Justine Lécuyer]