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Trail

Jean-Henri Riesener

Furniture by one of the greatest cabinet-makers of the eighteenth century

Three of the greatest collections of Riesener furniture in the world are in Britain. These are the Royal Collection, the Wallace Collection and Waddesdon Manor. All three were formed by nineteenth-century collectors.

Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806) was one of the greatest cabinet-makers of the eighteenth century. Born in Germany, he emigrated to Paris, one of the main centres of luxury production in Europe, and found work with fellow German-born cabinet-maker, Jean-François Oeben. After completing a roll-top desk Oeben had been commissioned to make for Louis XV in 1769, Riesener came to the attention of the royal administration, and was appointed official cabinet-maker to Louis XVI in 1774. He subsequently delivered hundreds of pieces of furniture to the French royal family and their courtiers, many of them masterpieces. With the change in the royal furniture administration in 1784, Riesener was eventually removed from his privileged position and by 1788 his royal commissions had dried up.

In the nineteenth century Riesener’s furniture was highly sought after by collectors such as George IV, the 4th Marquess of Hertford and Ferdinand and Alice de Rothschild for the quality of its marquetry and gilt-bronze mounts, as well as its association with the splendour of Ancien Régime France. 

Riesener and his furniture has been the focus of a major research project, involving the Wallace Collection, Royal Collection Trust and Waddesdon Manor, who, together, hold one of the largest assemblies of Riesener’s furniture in the world. The project has produced the first major monograph on the cabinet-maker, as well as exciting new digital content. In this trail, explore high-resolution imagery, isometric drawings and interactive 3D models to find out more about Riesener’s furniture.


 

© The Trustees of the Wallace Collection

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Riesener in the Royal Collection

George IV was the first of the celebrated collectors of Riesener furniture.

Riesener at the Wallace Collection

In the mid-nineteenth century, the 4th Marquess of Hertford took a connoisseurial interest in Riesener’s furniture.

Riesener at Waddesdon Manor

Ferdinand and Alice de Rothschild sought out provenance in their Riesener furniture.

Riesener timeline

Explore key moments in Riesener's lifetime and career