I allow myself a bit of luxury: the “long chair”
Sure, a “long chair” or a recamière is not really practical. It takes up quite a lot of space for its intended use – only one person can lie on it and feel good. But that is precisely what makes it so desirable.
A sofa can seat at least two people. It is good for comfortable and social sitting and for afternoon naps. This is a demand that the “long chair” could never live up to. As the name suggests, this seat comes from France – a country that is famous for its luxurious lifestyle. Let’s look back a few hundred years, to the court of Louis XV.
When the King wanted to rest after arduous government work, he took off his crown and lay down on a “long chair”. In the court life of the 18th century, it was initially nothing but a comfortable seat with footrest – a 2-part piece of furniture which, little by little, became a unit with six legs.
But this tired noble figure could not properly stretch out on an extended armchair. With this, from the beginning of the 19th century, a completely different arrangement could be seen in the fine homes – an article of seating / reclining furniture with no back rest but with two armrests. It was named after the author Julie Récamier, who was once immortalised by the painter Jacques-Louis David in oil. The picture featured the woman lying on such a couch. Voilà!
Then there was the Ottomane (French for “Ottoman”), which became famous at around the same time as the “long chair” did. This mix of seat and sofa also served as a day bed. The Ottomane originally had a daunting backrest whose ends leaned forward in the direction of two side rails. As the bank became increasingly used for napping, at some point in time people started ignoring the back almost entirely.
Today, the resting places of absolutism are experiencing a renaissance: as an exact copy of the ornate original, as a playful sofa variation in bright colours or as a minimalist day bed for fans of modern furnishing. For all their diversity, however, there is one thing that remains common with the chairs and long chairs: their wonderful luxurious look!