The great Parisian love chair on sale in a New Orleans antique shop is a remarkable combination of artistry and debauchery; a symbol of ingenious Anglo-French co-operation and a reminder of an age when Paris managed to be seedy, glamorous and creative all at the same time. The replica of the siège d’amour from the Paris brothel Le Chabanais, built in 1890 by the cabinet maker Louis Soubrier, enabled the user to have sex with two women simultaneously while reclining in comfort on brocade upholstery. There are useful handles, footholds, and neo-rococo bronze stirrups.

It was not just used by the future Edward VII who was known as “Dirty Bertie” in his younger days; it was created for him. Because when Queen Victoria’s eldest son turned up in Paris looking for fun, he was already distinctly rotund, with a waist measurement well on the way to the 44 inches it would reach by the time of his coronation. The made-to-measure contraption was designed for Bertie’s bulk, enabling the portly prince to lie back and think of England without crushing the other participants.

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