Naturalist scientist of the Age of Enlightenment. Teacher's file. La Rochelle Museum.
Clic: This booklet of 22 https://museum.larochelle.fr/fileadmin/mediatheque_musee_museeum/Documents_pdf/enseignant_animateur/lycee/dossier_Clement_Lafaille.pdfpages allows to better approach the creation, the iconography history but also the restoration of the Cabinet Lafaille made by the Atelier Dominique Chaussat in 2006-2007
Excerpt " The changes in the practice from the death of Lafaille to the present day.
During the renovation at the beginning of the 21st century, Dominique Chaussat was able to reconstitute some of the modifications made over the years. The legs of the tables and chairs are not very worn and show that they have been used by very few visitors. A first dismantling and removal took place at the time of Lafaille's death in order to transport the furniture to a house located next to the City Hall. In 1794, Lavillemarais, in charge of the natural history collections of the former Academy, found 2,128 shells, far from the 4,000 mentioned by d'Argenville in his inventory of Lafaille's cabinet. He also inventoried a multitude of objects in the cabinet. Lavillemarais was already the permanent secretary of the Académie in 1783, when the cabinet was transferred to the town hall, and was therefore well placed to observe the damage to the ensemble. A new move was made to install the furniture in the museum, which opened in 1832. New transformations took place to adjust the furniture to their new room, the one they still occupy today. During the 19th century, the furniture was used without being given any particular value. They were separated, scattered throughout the museum and painted. It was in 1956 that the furniture was classified as a historical monument, at the instigation of a new curator. In 1958 it was stripped and repainted in the original colors, and restored by a Parisian cabinetmaker. The whole was presented in the spirit of a cabinet of curiosity, without focusing on the accuracy of the contents or their arrangement.
II.D The other pieces of furniture now added
/The Lafaille cabinet now houses three pieces of furniture that would not have been out of place there. We know that he also collected medals. He donated the piece of furniture to the Academy in 1774. The body of the piece of furniture has drawers fitted out to receive medals. The current base replaces a base dating from around 1900XXXV.Medal cabinet Lafaille © MHNLREsuit a globe echoes the ultramarine character of many pieces of Lafaille. It is set on a wooden stand with four legs. The globe itself is composed of two paper mache hemispheres joined by a wooden shaft. The resulting sphere is then covered with plaster which is smoothed with a template. Then the spindles engraved on a paper are glued on the globe. Akerman, a Swedish engraver specialized in the realization of globes, is the author of this engraved paper. But the engraving was completed in 1780 by Frederic Akrel, a student of Akerman, and published in Uppsala. He included the latest scientific advances: the lines of equal declination determined by Cook for the South Pole. These lines represent a fictitious route allowing navigators to determine the (...)
View of the Lafaille cabinet in 1928 © MHNLR
(...) It was in 1956 that the furniture was classified as a historical monument, at the instigation of a new curator. In 1958 it was stripped and repainted in the original colors, and restored by a Parisian cabinetmaker. The whole was presented in the spirit of a cabinet of curiosity, without focusing on the accuracy of the contents or their arrangement.
View of the Lafaille cabinet in the 1990s © MHNLR
It is the difference between the geographic and magnetic poles. The undulating line visible on the globe has no scientific value anymore but attests that the object was once at the cutting edge of knowledge... It was given to the Royal Academy of Belles-Lettres, Sciences and Arts of La Rochelle by Mr Debaussay and Mr Nérac. It was therefore not in Lafaille's cabinet.
The shell is a piece of furniture made of mahogany from Cuba. It is part of what is called "port furniture". Dominique Chaussat considers it very likely that it was made by an artisan from La Rochelle. A very similar piece of furniture can be seen on a painting by Alexandre Roslin (1718-1793) entitled Portrait de Perronnet et de sa femme painted in 1759. It is carved with shells on the sides in reference to its use. There is no mention of it in the 18th century documents that we have on the cabinet. It was only in 1885 that Paul Cassagneaud, then curator of the museum and who had been employed there since 1830, spoke of the "remarkable piece of furniture in the Louis XV style, by the same (Lafaille) donor" in a notice. In addition, the piece of furniture seems redundant in relation to the twelve display tables installed by Lafaille (...)