Skip to main content Aller au menu Aller à la recherche

AddToAny share buttons

The upholsterer-decorator from 1848 to 1914 : Continuity and changes of a profession at the heart of the French furniture industry



During 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.


  • M. Jérémie Cerman, professeur à l’Université d’Artois
  • Mme Natacha Coquery, professeure à l’Université Lumière Lyon 2
  • Mme Rossella Froissart, directrice d’études à l’École Pratique des Hautes Études
  • Mme Aziza Gril-Mariotte, professeure à l’Université Aix-Marseille
  • M. Jean-Baptiste Minnaert, professeur à Sorbonne Université, Centre André-Chastel
  • M. Jean-François Luneau, conservateur du patrimoine associé au Centre André-Chastel