A royal carriage with four wheels, in carved, gilt and painted wood

France, first third of the 18th century (case), second half of the 18th century (painted decoration)
Carved wood, molded, gilt and painted in red and polychrome on a gold background


  • This carriage was delivered for the Crown of Spain, probably for the future Charles III. On the back of the carriage are carved the coats of arms of the Bourbon of Spain: quarterly 1 and 4 Gules the castle Or, donjonned of three towers, open Azure (which is of Castile), and 2 and 3 Argent the lion Gules armed, lampassed and crowned of gold (which is of León); on an inescutcheon Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or, with a border of Gules (which is of Anjou). The arms are surmounted by a crown of infant.

Similar examples:

  • Unknown, Carriage said « du Dauphin », 1785–1790, Versailles, Grande Écurie, musée des Carrosses (inv. V 6074)
  • - Unknown, Sleigh said « aux patineurs », 1715–1725, Versailles, Grande Écurie, musée des Carrosses (inv. T 767 C.1) 

The coat of arms of Spain present on the car corresponding to the small arms. 

The wealth of woodwork and paintings and the choice of a gold background, undoubtedly the most expensive, reflects the prestige of his owner who could be one of the heirs of the throne of Spain, the future Charles III (1716−1788), first child of the second marriage of Philippe V and then 3rd in the line of succession.

From a heraldic point of view, and taking Spanish numismatics as reference, Philippe V was the first Spanish Bourbon king to use the simple quarry of Castile and León (without Grenada with Bourbon heart (decade 1730–1740).) The crown surmounting the coat of arms is that of the infants of Spain, therefore, it can be thought that this carriage was made for one of his children.

It seems that the shape of the central shield framing the three fleur-de-lys, shield shape or oval, allows to distinguish the two branches from the marriages of Philip V with Marie Louise of Savoy in 1701 and then with Elisabeth Farnese in 1714. Thus, the form the central shield shape would be have been used for children from his first marriage, Louis I (1707−1724) or the future Ferdinand VI (1713−1759) while the oval shape would be used for his second marriage, Charles III of Spain (1716−1788), Philip I of Parma (1720−1765) or Louis of Spain (1727−1746).


The undergear

With two large rear wheels and two small front ones is painted red and gold on the chassis. Each rear wheel is provided with eight spokes decorated with strings of beads, each located between two patterns of elongated leaves. The perimeter of the wheels is decorated with an oval rosette with petals ending each ray, which is flanked on either side of a row of piastres. The front wheels each have six spokes decorated with the same patterns.

The forehead is equipped with a bar to couple two animals. A wheel arranged horizontally around a central axis makes it easy to turn and maneuver.

The front end and the rear train are adorned with an elaborate sculpture with Greek decorations such as triglyphs, friezes of flowers included in interlacing, foliage scrolls, rosettes, one arranged in a medallion carried by a knot wrapped fastened to a simulated coat hook (on the back, under the escutcheon) of the plumets surmounting the leafy sheaths and capitals, bundles, pearls etc.

The frames are in chased iron. The suspension springs are made of steel. The suspension straps are original leather, as well as the edge of the wheels.

The body

The body has by two lateral doors, each with a handle and hinges in chased and gilded bronze.

There are six pastoral scenes on a gold background:

  •  – on the front panel: a scene with a blindfolded man surrounded by four young women 
  • - on the right door: a pastoral (a shepherd accompanied by his dog and his flock, discusses with two women, one of whom sits holding a child on his knees) 
  • - on the right rear panel: a scene of pastoral gallantry 
  • - on the back panel: a beggar hatches his hat towards a rider who turns around in the presence of two spectators. One sees a tower in the distance. 
  • - on the left rear panel: a young man sitting pretending to dream in the company of another standing figure performing an ample gesture with his arms 
  • - on the left door: a shepherd calling his flock by blowing in a horn with two women, one of whom sits and holds a child on his knees. 
  • Each panel is highlighted at the top with a frieze of floral and polychrome garlands. 

These have been probably made by Neapolitan artists such as Francesco Celebrano (1729−1814), Saverio Della Gatta (1777−1829) or Spanish as José Camaròn Boronat (1731−1803)

The frame carved and gilded is slightly animated shape, carved strips foliage between the moldings, falls with acanthus leaves, staples and windings on the uprights, the lower frieze patterned with florets and florets arranged alternately with various arabesques and ending at each end by a powerful winding fluted on the edges of the face and back.

Under each door is an elegant apron consisting of two large sheets of acanthus windings backed and deployed.

The general shape of the box as well as these ornaments seem to be dated from the first years of the eighteenth century.

The painted decoration would be datable from the second half of the 18th century. This difference in dating could naturally be explained by the wear and tear of a work particularly exposed to shocks and bad weather.

History of the carriages

Appeared in the French royal stables in 1643, the carriage, a four-wheeled city and four-wheeled public car, containing two seats for four people and whose rear seat could be sheltered by a hood was for more than two centuries the most popular cars. Thus, from 1643, year when the young Louis XIV, aged 5 years on the throne is delivered a “little carriage”. The carriage took from its beginnings dimensions adapted to the use by children like here where, moreover, there remains only one seat. Child carriage, this carriage could be towed by one or two ponies, goats, donkeys or sheep and possibly by one or more servants but rare are the copies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to be arrived intact.

Philip V (1683−1746)

King of Spain, head of the house of the Bourbons of Spain, born in 1683 in Versailles, Philippe was the second son of the Dauphin, said “the Grand Dauphin”, and grandson of Louis XIV. He was titled Duke of Anjou. Appointed to the throne of Spain in 1700 by the will of Charles II, his maternal great-uncle Charles II, last king of Spain of the Habsburg dynasty, he himself became king of Spain, first of the Bourbon dynasty even though the first years of his reign were marked by a War of Succession which set Europe on fire until 1714. Married in 1701 to Marie-Louise de Savoie who gave him two sons, Louis and Ferdinand, he remarried with Elisabeth Farnese in December 1714 which will give him two other sons, Charles and Philippe. His reign lasted 45 years and 2 days (longest in the Spanish monarchy) although he was marked by an abdication of a few months in 1724 in favor of his eldest son Louis.

Charles III of Spain (1716−1788)

First son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, Princess Elisabeth Farnese, he is not destined to reign in Madrid, the throne of Spain must return to his half-brother Ferdinand born of the marriage of his father with Louise of Savoy. He first became Duke of Parma and Piacenza under the name of Charles I in 1731, King of Naples in 1734 and Sicily in 1735.

Ferdinand died childless, Don Carlos abdicated his Italian kingship and ascended the throne of Spain and India in 1759 at the age of 43, with already a solid reforming experience. With the help of lawyers and ministers initially Italian and Spanish, he multiplies the economic reforms (abolition of internal customs, colonization of the Sierra Morena, freedom of trade with America, etc.) and cultural (stimulation of the scientific research and teaching after the expulsion of the Jesuits (1767)).

Outside, breaking with the policy of neutrality of Ferdinand VI, he joined France against Great Britain by the Family Pact (1761), which led to the Seven Years’ War (1762) and the War of American Independence (1779) during which he took back Menorca (1782).


  • Béatrix Saule et collectif, Roulez carrosses !, château de Versailles et musées d’Arras, édition Skira-Flammarion, Paris, 2012
  • Written communication from Philippe Palasi on the 21st october of 2014
  • Written communication from Thomas Gauvillé in 2015
  • Jean-Louis Libourel, Voitures hippomobiles : vocabulaire typologique et technique, Éditions du patrimoine, juin 2016.


  • Height: 32 ½ inches – 83 cm        
  • Width: 85 inches – 216 cm          
  • Depth:  33 ¾ inches – 86 cm 

Hauteur : 83 cm – 32 1⁄2 inches

Largeur : 216 cm – 85 inches

Profondeur : 86 cm – 33 3⁄4 inches

    • Anonyme, Calèche dite « du Dauphin », 1785–1790, Versailles, Grande Écurie, musée des Carrosses (inv. V 6074)

    • Anonyme, Traineau dit « aux patineurs », 1715–1725, Versailles, Grande Écurie, musée des Carrosses (inv. T 767 C.1)

    • Béatrix Saule et collectif, Roulez carrosses !, château de Versailles et musées d’Arras, édition Skira-Flammarion, Paris, 2012

    • Communication écrite de Philippe Palasi le 21 octobre 2014

    • Communication écrite de Thomas Gauvillé en 2015

    • Jean-Louis Libourel, Voitures hippomobiles : vocabulaire typologique et technique, Editions du patrimoine, juin 2016.