Insults From Beyond the Grave


Philippe Lafargue, my Roubo translation collaborator and long-time friend, has been insulted.

Deeply. By M. Roubo himself.

Roubo’s chapters on chairmaking are technically sublime, with many profound insights and word pictures I find captivating. However, he is incessant in his demeaning descriptions of chairmakers, accusing them of being sloppy, careless, unskilled and slothful. Somewhere between the lines he is probably implying that they are hung over, their feet stink and they don’t love Jesus. Though he does not comment on their table manners, we can guess what he might say.

As a graduate of the renowned École Boulle curriculum in classical French chairmaking, Philippe unsurprisingly takes umbrage at these characterizations. He has gone so far as to wonder out loud (well, in print correspondence) why it is that Roubo was so contemptuous of chairmakers.

If we knew where Roubo is buried, it might be worth trying to dig him up and asking him. When you read Roubo’s accounts of chairmaking, you will no doubt ask yourselves the same question.

— Don Williams

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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7 Responses to Insults From Beyond the Grave

  1. Vincent says:

    Maybe his wife ran away with a chair maker, like allegedly Alfred Nobel’s did with a mathematician (hence the absence of a math’s Nobel prize)?

  2. Mike Davis says:

    Maybe he had to sit for long periods of time and the chairs were not as comfortable as an Aeron.

  3. I, a chairmaker, am personally offended. …but I look forward to reading it all the same.

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Damien says:

    Roubo explains why. If he bothers to show old fashion chairs from 1700 and 1730 on the picture he is alone there, times have changed and fashion dictates other lines and poorer structural quality. Another aspect is that chairmakers are only delivering the rough frame, without the upholstry, cane and painting but also without profiles and carvings. Technically they are just sawing frames together. Giving them few responsibilities on the finished product and making a high productivity their major concern.

  5. TheCreativeHand says:

    Speaking of Roubo translation. How is it coming? Is there a rough ETA for Roubo on Furniture making?

    • lostartpress says:

      We hope to have it out by Christmas, but there are too many unknowns to predict a publishing date. That is probably optimistic.

      As with all our books, they are done when they are done. We refuse to stick to a publishing schedule and cut corners in the process. I know it’s maddening.

      • TheCreativeHand says:

        It is not maddening. Maddening is how long it is taking me to learn to read and speak French to understand the original, so Christmas or first half of 2015 is great!

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