From 1735 to 1737, French artist Christophe Huet painted a series of wooden panels in a boudoir utilized by Caroline de Hesse-Rheinfels, the Duchesse de Bourbon, at the estate known as Chantilly. This thesis analyzes the messages posed by said space, exploring the complex narratives propagated by its paintings and decorative scheme as insights into a particular aristocratic milieu.Throughout the immersive boudoir, Huet utilized the singerie motif—through which monkeys caricatured human dress and pursuits—cementing the room’s nickname as the Petite Singerie. Despite the artist’s incorporation of these satirical monkey figures, the paintings of the Petite Singerie functioned as inventories of the material environments that shaped eighteenth-century France, specifically within the country estate of the Bourbon Condé.
Yet within the boudoir, the Duchesse de Bourbon encountered her own image alongside Huet’s paintings, as her reflection was displayed within three mirrors hanging in the space. Considering the Duchesse de Bourbon’s bodily navigation of the room in its daily usage, this study suggests that the Petite Singerie incorporated the Duchess within its decorative scheme. Thus, I argue that the boudoir not only cataloged the pastimes of a generalized French aristocracy, but specifically located Caroline de Hesse-Rheinfels, a foreign-born, German noble, within their ranks at Chantilly. Through its architectural and decorative design, the Petite Singerie by Christophe Huet thereby correlated the Duchesse de Bourbon to the monkey figures and material goods dispersed throughout the paintings of her boudoir.
Dr. Amy Freund
Dr. Thomas DiPiero
Dr. Randall Griffin
Number of Pages
Fitzgibbon-Living In a Material World.pdf
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
Fitzgibbon, Sydney, "Living In A Material World: The Petite Singerie of Eighteenth-Century Chantilly" (2022). Art History Theses and Dissertations. 15.