Arthur and Robert, Wall Panel, c. 1791
This panel includes a large variety of fantasy motifs, such as griffins, half eagle and half lion. A small architectural structure in the center resembles a belvedere, which one might find in an aristocratic garden in the 18th century.
The French Revolution broke out in 1789, and in the middle of this tumult, many French artists depended on commissions from foreign clients, such as in England. This panel was part of the interior decoration of Kempshott House in Basingstoke. George, Prince of Wales and the future King George IV, spent his honeymoon in this house, in 1784.
In the decorative arts of the end of the eighteenth century, artists often made reference to the classicism of Roman antiquity. Columns and architectural elements were found next to cupids and mythological creatures. These objects could be pleasing to clients whether their feelings were royalist or republican.
Arthur and Robert was an established company in Paris, making painted paper for interior decoration. Named after its two founders, who were British, the company specialized in neoclassical motifs. They often used the style called "trompe l’œil" (fool the eye) to imitiate fabrics like velvet and fringe. One of their most famous clients was Thomas Jefferson, when he was the American ambassador to the court of Louis XVI.