The Riesener Project

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The Riesener Project

The Riesener Project

Since June 2012, the curators and conservators at the Wallace Collection have been working in collaboration with colleagues from Waddesdon Manor and the Royal Collection, to better understand the works of Jean-Henri Riesener in our collections.

Who was Jean-Henri Riesener?

Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806) is one of the most celebrated French furniture makers of all time. A German immigrant who travelled to Paris to make his fortune, his fame is largely based on his role as official cabinet-maker to the king, Louis XVI, and the pieces he produced for the royal court. He was a particular favourite of Marie-Antoinette and made beautiful furniture for her private apartments that reflected her love of exquisitely detailed works of art and refined elegance.

What is the Riesener Project?

The Wallace Collection is lucky to possess eleven pieces attributed to Riesener, many of them from Marie-Antoinette’s private apartments. Over the past few years we have been conducting a research project to learn more about the furniture maker and his workshop, and to cast light on the materials he used, the way in which his business operated and the evolution of his designs. We have been joined in this project by Waddesdon Manor and the Royal Collection Trust, who also own important collections of Riesener furniture. Together, we have been studying the development of the fashion for Riesener furniture in Britain, which reached its peak in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The project includes employing cutting-edge technology, using photogrammetry and 3D modelling, to recreate how these exceptional pieces of furniture originally appeared.

The intention of the Riesener project is to publish the new findings of this work in both print and digital form in the coming years and to bring the work of this remarkable master back into the forefront of furniture history.

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A Conservation Story

A Commode made for Marie-Antoinette by Jean-Henri Riesener

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