Jean-Henri Riesener, maître in 1768.
This bibliothèque, with its sober elegance, subtle play of moldings and fine use of mahogany enriched by ormolu mounts, is a superb example of Jean-Henri Riesener’s work, and is related to a series of armoires executed by Riesener in the 1780s. Very few examples of armoires by the ébéniste are recorded, all of which feature certain variations to the mahogany and gilt-bronze ornamentation. This includes that stamped by the ébéniste du Roi, illustrated in J. Whitehead, The French Interior in the Eighteenth Century, London, 1992, pp. 138-9 and subsequently sold from the Lagerfeld collection, Christies, Monaco, April 28 2000, lot 340.
A bibliothèque of similar outline formed part of the collection of an important European collector until sold Christie’s, Paris, 22 June 2005, lot 170, and a related bibliothèque, formerly in the collection of Charles Schneider, château de la Verrerie, sold Christie’s, Paris, 30 November 2016, lot 33.
Arguably the most celebrated ébéniste of the late 18th century, Riesener, along with Boulle and Cressent, was one of the very few makers to be specifically named in 18th century sale catalogues. He was celebrated not only for his use of marquetry of the highest quality and extravagant mounts, but also for his oeuvre of pieces with plain perfectly chosen mahogany embellished with more restrained ormolu mounts, such as on the present lot.
Riesener first worked in the atelier of Jean-François Oeben, of which he assumed control after Oeben's death. For a decade beginning in 1774 when he was appointed ébéniste du Roi, Riesener delivered some of the most spectacular and sumptuous furniture ever made. Although Riesener was replaced by Guillaume Benneman as the official ébéniste du Roi in 1784, Riesener’s work was still in demand by the Royal family and he continued to supply furniture to Queen Marie-Antoinette right up to the Revolution of 1789.