French Colonial Armoire


In 1764, French fur trader Pierre de Laclède de Liguest and Auguste Chouteau founded St. Louis. Their family’s success in the fur trade and business helped grow the small French settlement into a well-connected city. Jean Pierre Chouteau’s armoire, crafted in the 1790s, represents the Chouteau family’s role in the founding and transformation of St. Louis.

The design of the wardrobe exposes the roots and transformation of St. Louis. The 8-foot armoire contains several design elements typical of furniture assembled in the Upper Mississippi Valley during the era. The fleur-de-lis symbol, carved into the top of the wardrobe, revealed the early French influence in the region. Meanwhile, the claw-and-ball feet, a style used by English and American furniture-makers, exposed the growing English and American presence in the city. These mixed design elements mirrored the changes occurring in St. Louis as the city shifted from an ethnically French settlement to a diverse American city.

Object Details

Categories: Arts & Culture, People

Date: 1770s

Subject: Furniture, Colonial

Contributing Institution: Missouri Historical Society

Accession Number: 1920-053-0002

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Region: St. Louis Metro

Latitude: 38.614904

Longitude: -90.25763