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Lapierre, Francis (1653-1714)

Lapierre (Lapiere), Francis

Pall Mall, London; upholder (b. 1653-d. 1714)

Francis Lapiere was a French Catholic upholsterer working in England from the early 1680s until his death in 1714. His initial location in London is unknown, but in 1687 he was living on the north side of Jermyn Street in the parish of St James’s, Piccadilly. He paid rates of £1 5s per annum on a house and stable. By 1689 he had moved to the north side of Pall Mall, not far from Peter Potivine, upholsterer to both Charles II and James II. By 1695 his property extended to two houses in Pall Mall, rated at £2 6s and £1 2s 10d respectively. The houses were leased from the Earl of Montagu, who was Master of the Great Wardrobe from 1689 onwards. For Montagu Lapierre not only furnished Montagu House and Boughton House, but also supplied furniture to the Great Wardrobe during Montagu’s tenure. After Ralph Montagu’s death in 1709 Lapiere continued to work for his son, John Montagu (1690-1749) and was eventually assigned the leasehold of the properties in Pall Mall, valued at £1050 for probate in 1715. Lapiere also leased the property next door to his from Judith, the Lady Dowager Dover, at an annual rent of £25. This property he sublet from September 1714, if not earlier. At the time of his death Lapiere also held a lease on a house in Dover Street, for which he was owed £15 in rent, and was owed £1500 rent from properties in Paris. Much of this information comes from Lapiere’s probate inventory and will (National Archives, Prob 11/544, fl. 11; Prob 5/5204). The inventory also records the rich furniture and furnishings of Lapiere’s house in Pall Mall. Lapiere must have been married at some time, but nothing is known of this save that he had two daughters, one of whom, Frances Boucher, was still living in 1715.

The earliest commissions of this maker occur in the year of the Revolution in 1688 which placed William III and Mary II on the throne. He had worked for the Crown before the overthrow of James II, however, for commissions in connection with the furnishing of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea commence in the early months of that year. They carried on until 1692 and involved the supply of beds, chairs, cushions and other upholsterer's work costing £1,361 7s 6d. Immediately following the Revolution Lapierre supplied on loan for the Duke of Schomberg's apartment at St James's an ornate bed of crimson Genoese velvet, six walnut chairs and a large Turkey carpet. These were retained until August 1690, and for the 20 months hire a charge of £230 was made. In the period 1693–94 fifteen ‘French frames’ were provided for Hampton Court at a cost of £26 5s. The upholstery materials provided at the same time as the chair frames was however more significant from the point of view of cost and the whole account totalled £337 13s 4d. For Kensington Palace a large Persian carpet was supplied in 1691 for the Queen's Gallery at a cost of £64 10s.

This patronage by the Royal Household was matched by that of the aristocracy and nobility. For Chatsworth, Derbs. extensive furnishings were provided. In 1694 Lapierre was paid £5 for his expenses in travelling to Chatworth and in the years that followed rich furniture was produced in his workshops for this house. A bed supplied in 1697 cost £470 and arrangement was made to pay for this at £6 per week. The first seventeen payments amounting to £102 were made at Michaelmas of that year. A further £70 was incurred in altering another bed. The canopy and back of Lapierre's bed survive in the Long Gallery at Hardwick Hall, Derbs., another Cavendish property. Payments to Lapierre at Chatsworth continue to March 1700 when 22 yds of velvet were charged at £29 5s and some gold brocade at £15 13s 6. At Drayton House, Northants. commissions are recorded as early as 1689 and again beds were involved. An account of the Earl of Peterborough's debts drawn up in May 1702 included a sum of £50 due to Lapierre. For Boughton House, Northants. considerable work was undertaken with balances reaching as much as £1,432 4s in 1704. Supplying mending and cleaning tapestries and hangings alone for the period 1695–1705 came to £448 5s. This account was settled in February 1712. At Knole, Kent, gilt chairs and stools were supplied and these are now in the ballroom. The name ‘Lapierr 1695’ has also been found on a marble fireplace in one of the main bedrooms. He also worked for the 5th Earl of Exeter at Burghley House, Northants.

Source: DEFM; Westman ‘Francis Lapiere’s Household Inventory of 1715’, Furniture History (1994).

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.