Explore Jean-Henri Riesener and his furniture

Here you can find information about one of the eighteenth century’s most celebrated furniture-makers, Jean-Henri Riesener (1734–1806).

The Wallace Collection has one of the most important holdings of Riesener furniture in the world and this site provides information about his life, his work for the royal French court and his patrons. Most importantly, it examines the furniture at the Wallace Collection, revealing insights into his working methods, the materials he used and the cabinetmaking techniques he employed.

The results of a recently completed five-year research project on Riesener, in collaboration with the Royal Collection and Waddesdon Manor, have given us new insights. This research is introduced throughout this site. Richly illustrated with new high-resolution photography and digital content, the Riesener site allows you to explore the stories of Riesener’s life, his furniture, his craft and his legacy.

We are very grateful to all of the generous donors who supported the Riesener Project, in particular The NJT Foundation and The Leverhulme Trust, who supported the project from its inception.

Shortlisted in the 'Digital innovation of the Year' category of the 2021 Apollo Awards.

Riesener thank you line

The Cabinetmaker

From arriving in Paris as a German immigrant, to being appointed cabinetmaker to Louis XVI and his court, discover more about Riesener’s fascinating career as a furniture-maker, and the legacy he left behind.

Find out more about Riesener the cabinetmaker

A portrait of Jean-Henri Riesener
Antoine Vestier, Jean-Henri Riesener, 1786. Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon (MV8136). Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Château de Versailles) / Gérard Blot.

The Furniture

Each piece of Riesener furniture at the Wallace Collection has a tale to tell. Discover more about these masterpieces and what they tell us about Riesener, his workshop and his patrons.

Find out more about Riesener's furniture

A marquetry roll-top desk
Jean-Henri Riesener, Roll-top desk, c. 1770 (F102).

The Designs, Materials and Techniques

Riesener’s ingenuity as a cabinetmaker meant that he made furniture fit for a king and a queen. Take a closer look at some of the designs, materials and techniques he used to create his masterpieces.

Find out more about Riesener's designs, materials and techniques

A detail of the pictorial marquetry on the fall-front of a fall-front desk
Detail of pictorial marquetry, showing a caduceus, a laurel wreath and a cockerel. Fall-front desk (F300).

The Collector

Being a man of great wealth and taste meant that the 4th Marquess of Hertford, one of the founders of the Wallace Collection, only acquired the very finest artworks, including furniture by Riesener. For him, Riesener’s furniture held a particular allure.

Find out more about the Marquess of Hertford as a collector

A black and white photograph of the 4th Marquess of Hertford
Étienne Carjat, Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, c. 1860. Hertford House Historic Collection (2011.31).

The Riesener Project

An unprecedented initiative, the Riesener Project has taken furniture history in many exciting new directions. We have documented the methodology behind the Project, and the outcomes it has produced.

Find out more about the Riesener Project

An image of a gilt-bronze furniture mount
Detail of gilt-bronze frieze mount and Marie-Antoinette's cipher. Attributed to Jean-Henri Riesener, Chest-of-drawers, 1780 (F247).