A Couch for Fainting...

By: Carly Hill - Staff Writer • Sep 17, 2012 • 0 Comments

In ancient Grecian art, chaise longues were the chairs of the gods and the elites.  Palm sticks and rawhide strewn together created the first one in Egypt – a unique mixture of a chair and a daybed – perfect for lounging.  African chaises were carved out of wood.  The chaise longue was popular in France during the Rococo period – a period that highlighted asymmetry and unbalances. 

The chaise is also known as the “fainting couch.”  In the 19th century, the fainting couch was particularly popular.  Fainting rooms were popular and it is said that these couches – with one end raised higher than the other, were made for women to faint on because their corsets were so tight, they cut off blood flow an caused excessive fainting.  Another explanation for fainting rooms were that they were used for “female hysteria,” which was treated with an intense massage that would be performed on the chaise.

Another use of the chaise was (and is) for psychotherapy.  During Freudian psychoanalysis, patients would recline in the chaise as their dreams were interpreted. 

As time went by, the chaise became a symbol of glamour.  It’s perfect accessory was a beautiful woman draped over it.  The exquisite red chaise pictured above is an 18th century carved walnut chaise longue of the Louis XV period, circa 1760 – available right here from Ida Manheim Antiques. 

In the past, the chaise has been used for women to rest on during the day when they want to lie down for a rest without going to the bed.  An elegant chaise is not only useful but adds beauty and sophistication to any space.

There are three main type of chaise.

  • Duchesse brise – a chaise divided in two parts – either a chair with a long footstool or two chairs with a stool in between them
  • Recamier – a chaise with two raised ends, named after Madame Recamier (1777-1849) who posed on one for a portrait in 1800.  The Recamier was designed for the drawing room, not the bedroom.
  • Meridienne -  a chaise with a high headrest and lower footrest, joined by a sloping piece on the side, common use – for rest during the day

Take pleasure in viewing the variety of beds, chaises, and nightstands available, right here at Latique Antiques.