Enfilade

Digital Tools for Better Understanding Jean-Henri Riesener

Posted in books, resources by Editor on October 19, 2021

From Art Daily (17 October 2021) . . .

Jean-Henri Riesener, Fall-front desk with trellis marquetry and gilt-bronze mounts, 1783 (London: The Wallace Collection, F302).

Jean-Henri Riesener (1734–1806)—the German cabinetmaker who emigrated to Paris in the mid-eighteenth century and became supplier of furniture to Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and their court—has been the subject of an extensive research project undertaken by the Wallace Collection, Waddesdon Manor, and the Royal Collection. Over the past six years, the Project has investigated Riesener’s career, craft, and legacy, which has helped develop a greater understanding of his cabinetmaking materials and techniques, as well as his innovations in furniture design. Many of the Project’s discoveries were incorporated into cutting-edge 3D furniture models, the first monograph on Riesener, and a display at the Wallace Collection. This display focused on the furniture that Riesener made for Marie-Antoinette as well as his lasting influence on later cabinetmakers.

Although this display at the Wallace Collection has now drawn to a close, much of the Project’s work, as well as the pieces of furniture themselves, can still be explored through a comprehensive microsite dedicated to Riesener, in addition to the book. The detailed technical examination of the materials, structure, and condition of the objects that took place during the Project, along with scientific analysis, allowed accurate digital models to be created in SketchUp. These are hosted on Sketchfab for a fully interactive experience that allows users to gain an appreciation of the complexity of Riesener’s work and his virtuosity as a craftsman and designer. These models on the microsite are enriched by isometric drawings and catalogue entries that examine the history of the furniture and the characteristics of their production, along with essays that explore Riesener’s life, craft, patrons, and collectors.

A Riesener trail has also been created on the Royal Collection’s website. This draws together all the Riesener furniture from the three collections, along with their digital models, short catalogue entries, and an interactive timeline of Riesener’s life and key commissions, interspersed with events in French national history.

Many aspects of the Riesener Project were pioneering, from its focus on the materiality of Riesener’s furniture to his workshop processes and the business of furniture-making. However, perhaps the Project’s most ground-breaking achievement was sharing its research results with as wide an audience as possible, through multiple media, on an open-access online platform.

One Response

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  1. Pippa Shirley said, on October 19, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    A linked display and trail at Waddesdon Manor of Riesener furniture also runs until the end of the month.


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