DESIGN DICTIONARY: Singerie
If you are going to walk the walk, you should talk the talk.
What is a singerie?
Singerie: Derived from the French word for "monkey tricks." A monkey mimicking human behavior, often with satire, used as a decorative motif. Typically the monkey is fashionably dressed.
Then and now
Singeries were popular decorations during the French rococo period, but they have been used since the late 18th dynasty of Egypt. The most famous rooms decorated with singeries are called (fittingly) La Grande Singerie and the La Petite Singerie, located in France's Chateau de Chantilly. French artist Christophe Huet created them in the 18th century.
Other famous singeries include those found on the walls of the Monkey Island Hotel in England.
Meissen's fanciful Monkey Orchestra, first created in 1753 by Johann Joachim Kaendler, also is iconic.
Additionally, singeries were in vogue during the Jazz Age. They graced the walls of speakeasies, including Manhattan's Monkey Bar.
The singerie motif remains popular today. In 2009, as part of a restoration, Edward Sorel created a new mural at the Monkey Bar with famous Jazz Age celebs and monkey waiters.
Personally, I love the monkey mural at the Inn at Little Washington (I wrote all about the Inn here) where I have celebrated many happy occasions, including my 30th birthday and first wedding anniversary.
Get the look
Wallpaper is an easy way to get the singerie look. Schumacher, Cole & Son and De Gournay all have fine examples.
Another way to bring a singerie into your home is with home accessories. Little monkeys don't always have to be scampering along your walls. Consider adding these simians.
My favorite singerie with all of the 3 C's: (chic, cheap and cheerful) remains the monkey spray painted by Christian May! Do you have any monkey tricks up your sleeve? Do share.
Photo Credits: DetailLa Grande Singerie EtchingMonkey Island Hotel NYC Monkey Bar Wallpaper clockwise: DeGournay Deco Monkeys, Cole & Sons Fornasetti Frutto Proibito available through Lee Jofa, Schumacher Singeriesporcelain Shopping: 1. 2.3.4. The Inn at Little Washington photos, my own.