Dashing Through the Snow

January 17 2012, 5:04pm

We recently acquired a magnificent and unusual object — an 18th century sleigh carved in the form of a dragon! Carlton Hobbs LLC   In 17th and 18th century Europe, these fabulous vehicles were used in parades and races. They were a great source of fun at the French court—Marie Antoinette commissioned several for her sleighing parties— and were driven on the grounds, and even the frozen Grand Canal, of Versailles. A number of these are now preserved in the Musee des Carrosses (Coach Museum) of Versailles and the Musée National de la Voiture et du Tourisme (Museum of Car and Tourism) in Compiègne. Sleighs were also popular in Austria, Russia and Poland. Expensive and luxurious, the sleds were richly decorated with carving, painting and gilding. Many of them take the form of fantastic creatures such as leopards, hippocampi, and chimeras. Winter sleigh parade in the duchy of Württemberg. The present sleigh was once owned by the renowned decorator and collector, Rose Cumming. This xerox, taken from a photograph, shows the sleigh in situ in a client’s home.

Prior to Ms. Cummings’ ownership, our sleigh has the reputed provenance of having belonged to the Polish royal family, in particular, Marie Leszczyńska, wife of King Louis XV of France. Dating to circa 1750 it was supposedly made in Nancy, the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine which was ruled by Maria’s father, Stanislas Leszczyńska, the last Duke of Lorraine. We are currently exploring the sled’s 18th century history. Carlton Hobbs LLC