François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter was a leading French furniture manufacturer, who ran one of the most successful and influential furniture workshops in Paris.
About Jacob-Desmalter’s Life
François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter was born in 1770 to a family of well-known chair manufacturer. Further, he and his older brother took control of their father’s business in 1796. Six years later his brother died and Jacob-Desmalter hired back his father as a partner. The family business grew into one of the largest furniture workshops in Paris, Jacob-Desmalter et Cie (“and Company”). In 1808, 332 workers were employed. Additionally, they produced products worth over 700,000 francs a year. A third of the production was exported abroad. Moreover, the main buyers were Napoleon and his family. But, the business went bankrupt in 1813 when the emperor resigned from power. However, he managed to restart the company and in 1825 he transferred control to his son Alphonse-George. Then, he died on the Rue Cadet in Paris on August 15, 1841.
Jacob-Desmalter’s Major Works
- A magnificent cradle built for the infant Napoleon II, Prince Imperial of France and King of Rome. It has elm burr veneer richly decorated with chased gilt bronze mountings.
- “Grand Ecrin,” which is a jewel cabinet designed for Empress Josephine by the famous architect Charles Percier. Delivered in 1809 for her state bedroom at the Tuileries (soon to be used by Marie-Louise), the piece has plates of gilded bronze: the central one, depicting the “Birth of the Queen of the Earth, to whom Cupids and Goddesses hasten with their Offerings” by the most prominent bronze master of the Empire, Pierre-Philippe Thomir.
Image source: https://www.gazette-drouot.com
Features of His Style
Jacob-Desmalter made Empire-style furniture, which most commonly had mahogany veneer with gilded bronze supports. The craftsmen drew inspiration from the seats and thrones of antiquity, which are easily recognizable in the details on the bas-reliefs and on the Greek vases.