Workshop of the Jacob Family of Ébénistes

A famous family of French ébénistes who worked in Paris in 1765-1847. The founder of the company was George Jacob, and his successors were his sons: Georges the Second, dealing exclusively with the administration of the company, and François Honoré Jacob-Desmalter. Then the Jacob House was developed by the founder’s grandson, Georges-Alphonse Jacob Desmalter, who in 1847 sold the company to an outstanding carpenter J. Jeanselmow. During this time, the Jacob House developed into a large enterprise, especially under Napoleon. In 1808, it employed 332 workers.

Napoleon’s Jewel-Cabinet, 1809 (Musée du Louvre). Early 19th-century drawing of mahogany cabinet given by Napoleon I to Marie Louise as a wedding present in 1810. Uploaded by Bishonen (2007). {{PD-Art}}. Public domain. Photo source: “François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Mostly expensive furniture was made by the Jacob for the needs of European courts, thanks to which it had a real impact on the development of European furniture. The furniture, manufactured for 82 years, bore the stylish features fashionable in France from the reign of Louis XV to Louis Philippe, with a predominance of the Neo-classicist trends. Having personal ties with renowned artists, the Jacob made furniture according to their drawings, for example, furniture designed by Hubert Robert, in style à la grecque, according to the designs of Napoleon’s first painter, Jacques-Louis David, including the chaise longue depicted in his painting, The Loves of Paris and Helen, and above all according to the designs of Charles Percier and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine, founders of the directorate and of the Empire. There were also references to the creators of English furniture.

The Jacob furnished residences in Fontainebleau, Compiègne, Malmaison and Saint Cloud, among others, during the restoration of the interior of the Elysée Palace. Initially, the company’s specialty was to make furniture for sitting and sleeping, i.e. chairs, armchairs, sofas, banquets, beds, chaise lounges or recamier – a usually backless couch having curved arms often of unequal height. Later, chests of drawers, secretaries, tables, desks and others were also manufactured. The furniture was characterized by harmonious, symmetrical arrangements, straight or smoothly rounded lines, an extremely functional solution and solid workmanship. The Jacob were the first to introduce mahogany in France, which was associated with English influences. They also used the wood of citrus, birch, acacia, oak, pear, boxwood, yew and others, as well as ebony and amaranth inlays, painting, gilding and carving, sometimes discreet bronzes and porcelain plaques.

The Jacob furniture was also massively counterfeited.

Featured image: The Love of Helen and Paris (detail). Painting by Jacques-Louis David (1748 –1825). Uploaded by Livioandronico (2013). Public domain. Image cropped and enlarged. Photo source: “The Loves of Paris and Helen” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“The Loves of Paris and Helen” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3pUxqQr>. [Accessed 26th February, 2021].

“François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3dPljSo>. [Accessed 26th February, 2021].

PWN (1997-2021). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 164. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN

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