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Georges Jacob (1739-1814)

Georges Jacob was a prominent Parisian chair-maker who became a maître-ebéniste (master cabinet-maker) on 4 September, 1765. His pieces were supplied through the French marchand-mercier (dealer-decorator), Dominique Daguerre, who was employed by the Prince of Wales (later George IV, 1762–1830) to furnish his London residence Carlton House from 1787. At this time, the then Prince of Wales was pursuing a highly refined French neo-classical style of interior decoration.

Perhaps the most luxurious of Jacob's pieces in the Royal Collection is the large four-post tester bed à la Polonaise. The bed is ornately decorated with giltwood mounts of trophies and wreaths, an ornate frieze, and fluted Ionic columns at each corner with plumed helmet capitals. This bed was intended for George IV's bedroom at Carlton House and can be seen today in the King's State Bedchamber at Windsor Castle. A number of other pieces of furniture can be found on display at both Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, including an open armchair, a set of settees, and a bergère. Each piece demonstrates Jacob's employment of unique designs that seamlessly combine function with ornamentation.

Georges Jacob was of humble origins. He moved to Paris when he was 16 to begin his career as an apprentice in a joinery workshop. His first business was in the Rue de Cléry from 1767 and the Rue Meslée from 1775 where he employed specialist carvers and gilders. In 1791, the guild system was abolished and Jacob diversified his workshop to include cabinet-making and mounted bronzes. His fame as a furniture-maker spread across Europe and his clients included the future King George IV, Gustavus III of Sweden and several German princes.

During the French Revolution, despite his professional connections with the nobility of the Ancien Régime, Jacob remained safely in France, protected by his friendship with the Republican painter Jacques-Louis David. He later became a supplier of furniture to the revolutionary Committee of Public Safety and subsequently to Emperor Napoleon.

Having survived the Revolution with the assistance of Jacques Louis David, Jacob retired in 1796. He left his workshop to his two sons, Georges II and François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter, who traded as Jacob Frères. After the death of Georges II in 1803, Jacob came out of retirement to work with his younger son. The firm worked on a constant supply of furnishings for the Emperor Napoleon, trading under the name, Jacob Desmalter et Cie (for example this writing table).


Objects associated with Georges Jacob (1739-1814)