Guillaume Beneman, maître in 1785.
Although the name Guillaume Beneman (d.1811) is practically inseparable from the pair of iconic and perennially imitated commodes with Sevres biscuit plaques he made for Marie Antoinette's Salon des Jeux at Fontainebleau, Beneman's work is more aptly categorized by its chameleon-like ability to reflect the fashion of his era. In 1785, this then relatively unknown ébéniste was chosen to succeed ébéniste du roi Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806). Unlike his predecessors, a concentrated attempt by the Garde Meuble to reduce expenditures changed Beneman's role from a supplier of fully finished furniture to the Court to an ébéniste that modified and copied existing pieces owned by the King and his family. Ironically, Beneman's refashioning of older furniture to align with current tastes often exceeded the originals both in richness and expense. Beneman also copied or collaborated with other notable ébénistes. Furniture supplied to Saint Cloud by both Beneman and Adam Weisweiler share numerous similarities and on some pieces their stamps appear side by side. The high quality timbers, dignified proportions and almost severe lack of decoration on this bureau plat illustrate yet another facet to this nimble ébéniste. Not surprisingly, his workshop continued to produce furniture throughout the 1790's, adroitly transitioning from the Royal Court to supplying furniture after Percier's designs in 1798.