Enfilade

Online Talks | Riesener at The Wallace

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on October 6, 2020

This fall at The Wallace Collection (the Riesener project has been underway since June 2012 as curators and conservators at The Wallace Collection have worked alongside colleagues from Waddesdon Manor and the Royal Collection to better understand these extraordinary objects).

Alex Collins and Jurgen Huber | Riesener at The Wallace Collection
In conjunction with London Craft Week
Online, Thursday, 8 October 2020, 17.30–18.30 (BST)

Jean-Henri Riesener, along with Thomas Chippendale and David Roentgen, was one of the greatest furniture-makers of the eighteenth century. Born in Gladbeck, Germany, Riesener emigrated to Paris early in his career and became a highly successful cabinetmaker who supplied luxurious furniture to Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, and the French court. Join this free online talk (via Zoom) during London Craft Week 2020 to explore the designs, materials, and techniques Riesener used to create his masterpieces. Please click here to register.

Alex Collins is the former Riesener Project Leverhulme Fellow at The Wallace Collection. Jurgen Huber is Senior Furniture Conservator at The Wallace Collection.

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Helen Jacobsen | Creating a Market: Dealers, Auctioneers, and the Passion for Riesener Furniture, 1800–1882
Seminar in the History of Collecting
Online, Monday, 30 November 2020, 17.30–19.00 (BST)

Jean-Henri Riesener, Secretaire, 1783, 140 × 81 × 42 cm (London: The Wallace Collection).

Jean-Henri Riesener (1734–1806), cabinetmaker to Louis XVI, was one of the most celebrated cabinetmakers of the French eighteenth century. He was also a phenomenon in the history of British art collecting, becoming a byword in the nineteenth century for all that was admired in French furniture. Before the French Revolution we have no evidence of a British patron, yet just fifty years later collectors like William Beckford, George IV and the 4th Marquess of Hertford had contributed to both his celebrity and the prices his furniture achieved. The nineteenth-century popularity of Riesener furniture was more than just an appreciation of the cabinetmaker’s designs and the quality of their execution; it was driven by a fascination for the ancien régime and romanticized views of the doomed Bourbon Court. It was also an indication of the resourcefulness of the innovative entrepreneurs and dealers in France and England who helped establish Riesener’s reputation in the decades following the Revolution. Through clever marketing techniques and a certain amount of ‘enhancement’, they educated a new generation of buyers and established Riesener’s name alongside that of André-Charles Boulle as being worthy of connoisseurs.

This paper will analyze the rise of Riesener’s celebrity and the dealers who made it happen. It will discuss the sales techniques of the early nineteenth-century auctioneers, the role played by connoisseurs such as Lord Hertford, and the democratization of Riesener furniture through the market for copies and reproductions. It will end with the Hamilton Palace sale of 1882, which opened up yet another new market for Riesener: the Americans.

Helen Jacobsen is Curator of French 18th-Century Decorative Arts at The Wallace Collection.

This seminar series in the History of Collecting was established in 2006 as part of the Wallace Collection’s commitment to the research and study of the history of collections and collecting, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Paris and London. The seminars, which are normally held on the last Monday of every month during the calendar year, excluding August and December, act as a forum for the presentation and discussion of new research into the history of collecting. Seminars are open to curators, academics, historians, archivists and all those with an interest in the subject.

This online seminar is also the first of three evening talks on Riesener held in collaboration with the Furniture History Society. Please click here to register.

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Rufus Bird, Mia Jackson, and Helen Jacobsen | Riesener Masterpieces: Royal Furniture in Britain
Online, Monday, 7 December 2020, 17.30–19.00 (BST)

Three of the most important collections of Riesener furniture in the world are in Britain. In the second talk in our series, speakers from the Wallace Collection, Royal Collection and Waddesdon Manor will discuss some of the 30 pieces in their care. These include celebrated works made for Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI, and the French royal family that demonstrate the extraordinary levels of skilled craftsmanship achieved in the Riesener workshop and the design sophistication of which Riesener was capable. Our speakers will consider the popularity of French royal furniture in Britain in the 19th century and will illustrate the talk with stunning new photography from all three collections, revealing findings from the collaborative Riesener Project and shedding new light on both Riesener’s techniques and the provenance of some of the furniture.

Rufus Bird is Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art at The Royal Collection. Mia Jackson is Curator of Decorative Arts at Waddesdon Manor. Helen Jacobsen is Curator of French 18th-Century Decorative Arts at The Wallace Collection.

This online seminar is the second of three evening talks on Riesener held in collaboration with the Furniture History Society. Please click here to register.

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Alexander Collins | Mémoires for the Garde-Meuble: Riesener’s Perspective on Royal Furniture
Online, Monday, 14 December 2020, 17.30–19.00 (BST)

Riesener was court cabinetmaker for over ten years, supplying over 700 pieces to the French royal household. The details of these commissions were recorded in the Journal of the Garde-Meuble (the department of the royal household responsible for ordering and managing furnishings), as well as Riesener’s mémoires. These were invoices which contained detailed descriptions of the furniture, as well as the materials and techniques used to make them. Many of Riesener’s invoices survive and can be found in the collections of the Archives nationales and Bibliothèque nationale de France. This final talk in the series will explore a selection of invoices for pieces of royal furniture at Waddesdon Manor and the Royal Collection. They will tell us more about Riesener’s design and workshop processes, as well as the challenges he encountered during exceptionally ambitious projects.

Alexander Collins is the former Riesener Project Leverhulme Fellow at The Wallace Collection.

This online seminar is the third of three evening talks on Riesener held in collaboration with the Furniture History Society. Please click here to register.