Category FRENCH FURNITURE MAKERS

THE NEUWI ED WORKSHOP

The workshop that initially employed fifteen assis­tants in the 1770s employed more than twenty-four in

1779. and up to forty before the Revolution (certain eye-witnesses even speak of three hundred). Its pro­duction was vast. It is more accurately to be called a manufactory than a workshop, as it was organized on an industrial rather than artisanal basis, with very spe­cialized groups of craftsman in different workshops. The house at Neuwied consisted of one floor reserved for two large workshops, a laboratory and an office. On the second floor there was furniture in its final stages of construction and also a showroom. The third floor was reserved for the Roentgen family and rooms for the workers...

>

ROENTGEN. 1743-1807; ACTIVE AT NEUWIED 1772-95; MASTER IN PARIS 1780; EBENISTE-MECANICIF. N DU ROI ET DE LA

REINE 1785

Although he lived and worked in Germany, Roentgen has a place in this book as he was admitted master in Paris. Born in the Rhine­land town of Neuwied, he was the son of Abraham Roentgen (1711 -93), a cabinet-maker and member of a zealous Protestant sect, the Herrnhuter. In 1772 David took over the running of the workshop founded by his father in 1750, and where he had already been working for a number of years. The reputation of the workshop extended only as far as neighbouring Ger­man principalities, and its products were sold mainly at the Frankfurt fair. From the beginning David Roentgen showed a spirit of enterprise, having the idea in 1769 of organizing a sale by lottery of his furni­ture in Hamburg...

>

BENNEMAN. d. 1811; MASTER 1785; ЁВЁШТБ IN THE SERVICE OF THE CROWN 1786-92

The date of birth of Guillaume Benneman in Germany is unknown. He was trained as an ebeniste there and moved to Paris, where he worked independently in the rue du Faubourg Saint – /ntoine before receiving his first royal commissions in 1784; at the end of the 1780s he moved to 6 rue For­est in the neighbourhood of the Temple. The Crown’s choice of an unknown craftsman such as Benneman can be explained within the context of the reforms which took place in the Garde-Meuble Royal during the years 1784-85. Mainly for reasons of economy an alternative was sought to Ricsener who was deemed too expensive and also perhaps out of fashion. A wood-carver. Jean Haure. was placed in charge of all

furniture, chairs and beds as well as ebenisterie...

>

RIESENER. 1734-1806; MASTER 1768; SUPPLIER OFTHEGARDE-MEUBLE ROYAL 1774-85

Riesener is one of the few ebenistes of his time whose fame has extended beyond the limits of his profession. Together with Boulle and Cressent he is one of the very few £l^nistes mentioned in eighteenth-century sale catalogues. In contrast to them, Riesener was a recent immigrant from West­phalia. He was born in Gladbeck in 1734, son of a chair-maker, and moved to Paris at a fairly early age. possibly around 1754, to be apprenticed to Jean – Fran^ois Oeben at the Arsenal. At the time of Oeben’s death in 1763 Riesener was one of his principal em­ployees and took over the direction of the workshop in 1765, if not earlier, on behalf of Oeben’s widow, until he himself became a master in 1768...

>

SAUNIER

1735-1807; MAS TER 1752

B

orn into a family of ebenistes established in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Saunier obtained his mastership very early but did not register it until 1765 when he took over the family workshop in which he had previously been working. He kept this workshop in the rue du Faubourg Saint – Antoine opposite the rue Saint-Nicolas at least until 1799. producing luxury furniture, all in Neo-classical taste. These veneered pieces are marked by their so­briety of line and the beauty of their wood, mainly tulipwood applied in large sheets in horizontal strips. Between 1765 and 1775 Saunier frequently produced a type of transitional commode with rectangular shape and lightly curved legs using tulipwood with a wide horizontal grain...

>

MEWESEN

MASTER 1766

T

his ebeniste was probably of Scandinavian extraction. On 26 March 1766 he became a master in Paris, where he was active for vir­tually the next twenty years. He settled at La Main d’Or in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. The fur­niture bearing his stamp is in the Transitional style and dates from c. 1770-80. Most of his output is orna­mented with geometric marquetry, especially octag­onal parquetry, similar to that found in Carlin’s work.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

F. de Salvertc: Les Ebcnistes, p. 230

Claude-Charles

>

CARLIN

c. 1730-85: MASTER 1766

Born probably around 1730. in the principality of Baden, Martin Carlin was the son of Trouper (Carlin, carpenter in Fribourg-en – Brisgau. Nothing is known of his apprenticeship or when he came to Paris, except that by 1759 he was set­tled there in the company of other C ierman and Flem­ish cbenistes such as the Oeben and Vandercruse families. On 26 February 1759 he married Marie – Catherine Oeben, Jean-Frangois Oeben’s sister. Roger Vandercruse and Oeben attended the wedding as wit­nesses. The contract reveals that (Carlin was still a day – worker living on the quai des Celestins...

>

LELEU

1729-1807; MASTER 1764

J

ean – Francois Leleu was born in Paris and was first apprenticed in the workshop of Jean-Fran<jois Oeben at the Arsenal. When the latter died in 1763. Leleu. aged thirty-four, seems to have wished to take over the workshop, but was supplanted by his younger colleague Riesener. who eventually married Oeben’s widow. Leleu thereafter held a long­standing grudge against Riesener; Salverte cites a complaint by Riesener to the police in August 1765 claiming to have been assaulted by Leleu. Leaving Oeben’s workshop. Leleu settled in the chaussee de la Contrescarpe opposite the Bastille, and became a mas­ter ebeniste on 19 September 1764.

Me soon thrived and moved to a larger workshop in the rue Royale-Saint-Antoine (now rue de Birague) near the Place des Vosge...

>

DESTER

MASTER 1774

This ebeniste was active until at least 1790. working in the rue du Faubourg-Saint – /ntoine. His work, which is very distinctive, usually takes the form of light pieces of furniture, tables and bonhcurs-du-jour with marquetry in a loz­enge pattern, the centres decorated with a florcttc. The woods used, satinwood, and stained maplewood, create a harmonious blend of pale-gold and green. The shapes are simple and the decorative use of gilt- bronze mounts is restrained. Godefroy Dester also made a number of pieces in mahogany as well, close in style to the work of Weisweiler and Benneman. The mounts are very sober, the distinction resting largely in the beauty of the woods...

>

CRAMER. d. 1804; MASTER 1771; MARCHAND-£b£NISTE

B

orn at Grcvenbroich in the northern Rhine­land. an area in Germany from which many eighteenth-century eb£nistes originated. Mathieu-Guillaume Cramer settled in Paris at an unknown date. When he married in 1771 he was already established as an independent ebenistc in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine; he was close to Carlin who was a witness to his marriage contract. He mar­ried one of the daughters of the ebeniste Isaac- Edmond Collet, living in the same quarter. Cramer contributed a portion fixed at 3.500 livres mainly in stock and tools, a sign that he had been active in his profession for some time. The bride. Marthe – Suzanne-Frangoise Collet, brought a dowry of 2.600 livres...

>