Riesener, Jean-Henri

born July 4, 1734, Gladbeck, Münster
died Jan. 6, 1806, Paris, Fr.

French cabinetmaker.

Son of an usher in the law courts of the elector of Cologne, he joined a workshop in Paris and became its head when his master died. In 1774 he was made royal cabinetmaker and from then on was the regular supplier of furniture to Marie-Antoinette. His preferred wood was mahogany; occasionally he used lacquer and mother-of-pearl to enrich his surfaces. His furniture exemplified the Louis XVI style.

Jewel casket on a stand, veneered with mahogany, sycamore, and purplewood, by Riesener, c. ...

By courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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▪ German cabinetmaker
born July 4, 1734, Gladbeck, Münster [Germany]
died Jan. 6, 1806, Paris, France
 the best-known cabinetmaker in France during the reign of Louis XVI.

      Riesener was the son of an usher in the law courts of the elector of Cologne. After moving to Paris he joined the workshop of Jean-François Oeben (Oeben, Jean-François) in 1754, and, when Oeben died in 1763, Riesener was put in charge of the workshop and later married his master's widow. He made his name by completing and delivering to Louis XV (Louis XV style) the famous bureau du roi (“king's desk”), begun by Oeben. In 1774 he was made royal cabinetmaker and from then onward was the regular supplier of furniture to the queen, Marie-Antoinette. Although he was one of the most versatile of cabinetmakers, his services were in little demand during the French Revolutionary period because of his political status.

      Riesener used both European and exotic woods, with a preference for mahogany; he occasionally used lacquer and mother-of-pearl to enrich the surfaces of his works. His finished style was pure Louis XVI (Louis XVI style), with its rectilinear side view and harmonious ornamentation.

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Universalium. 2010.

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