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Mar - 16 - 2013
Exposition Versailles

Throne for Napoleon to preside over the Senate, 1804

François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (1770–1841) oversaw one of the most successful and influential furniture workshops in Paris, from 1796 to 1825.The son of a well-known chairmaker, Georges Jacob, Jacob-Desmalter took over his father’s business with his older brother in 1796. When his brother died six years later, Jacob-Desmalter hired his father back as his partner and began to develop one of the largest furniture workshops in Paris. By 1808 he employed 332 workmen to produce pieces worth over 700,000 francs per year. A third of this stock was destined for export; his warehouse alone held over 500,000 francs’ worth of furniture.
Important commissions included a magnificent cradle built for the infant King of Rome, and the most expensive single item, the jewel cabinet for the Empress, delivered in 1809 for the Empress Joséphine’s state bedroom in the Tuileries (soon to be used by Marie-Louise). It was designed by the architect Charles Percier and embellished with gilt-bronze plaques: the central one, according to its original description, depicts the “Birth of the Queen of the Earth, to whom Cupids and Goddesses hasten with their Offerings” by the Empire’s most eminent bronzier, Pierre-Philippe Thomire, modelled by Antoine-Denis Chaudet.
Greatly dependent on orders from Napoleon’s household, the business went bankrupt in 1813, when the Emperor fell from power. Jacob-Desmalter, however, managed to resurrect the company and continued to run it until his son, Alphonse-George, succeeded him in 1825.


Cheval glass (psyche), ca. 1810–14, François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (French), Amboyna on oak with gilt-bronze mounts (24.230)
Coin cabinet, ca. 1809–19, Probably by François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (French); silver mounts by Martin-Guillaume Biennais (French); designed by Charles Percier (French); decoration after drawings by Baron Dominique Vivant-Denon (French), Mahogany, silver (26.168.77)

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