One of the most accomplished makers of Louis XVI furniture, Jean-Henri Riesener was also Marie-Antoinette’s favourite cabinet maker.
This corner cupboard (‘encoignure’) is stamped by Riesener and was delivered to Marie Antoinette’s private study at the château of Versailles on 12 February 1783.
The gilt-bronze mounts on the encoignure incorporate stylised acanthus and naturalistic flowers of exceptional quality. The trophy on the door shows a pair of doves perched on a tambourine in the centre, with attributes of Cupid and Bacchus and a basket of flowers hanging on a ribbon. These themes of love and nature appear in many of Marie Antoinette’s interiors and on much of the furniture delivered for her by Riesener.
At the Wallace Collection, we have a specialised furniture conservation team who, over the past few years, have been conserving our pieces by Riesener, including a commode by Marie Antoinette – you can watch a video of its conservation here.
For this corner cupboard, one of the main priorities was to restore the gilt mounts, which in some places were corroded.
To conserve the cupboard and the mounts required an extreme amount of care and sensitivity to ensure no further damage to the object. Modern techniques including a chemical treatment were used to repair, clean areas and remove any corrosive products. The cupboard was then reassembled and returned to the Wallace Collection’s Study.
If you are interested to learn more about conservation at the Wallace Collection we have a range of free talks throughout the year, details of which you can find here.