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Article

Donna Corbin

(b Lacochère, Orne, April 29, 1764; d Paris, March 26, 1843).

French cabinetmaker and silversmith. The silver and silver-gilt produced in his workshop rivals that of his contemporaries Henri Auguste and Jean Baptiste Claude Odiot. By 1789 Biennais had established himself at 283, Rue Saint-Honoré, Paris, as a cabinetmaker and tabletier (a dealer in and maker of small objects). After 1797 Biennais, no doubt encouraged by the dissolution of the guild system, expanded his business to include the manufacture of silver. During the Consulate Biennais became Napoleon’s personal silversmith, although he may have provided Napoleon with silver as early as 1798, when it is said that he supplied him with a nécessaire de voyage prior to his Egyptian campaign (1798–1801) and trusted him to pay for it on his return.

Biennais produced large amounts of silver for Napoleon and his family, including, in 1804, the crown and sceptre for his coronation and a number of nécessaires of different types, remarkable for the combination of forms of varying shapes and sizes that are ingeniously accommodated in a restricted space. One (...

Article

Term used to describe the continuation in the decorative arts of the Neo-classical style (see Neo-classicism) in France between 1800 and 1805 under Napoleon Bonaparte (First Consul; 1799–1804). His Consulate was an era of renewal in the furniture, porcelain and metalwork industries in France (see France, Republic of, §VI, 4), greatly encouraged by the patronage of Napoleon, who sought a model for his position in the magnificence of ancient Rome. While little actual building took place, the period was important for such changes in interior decoration as the lavish use of draperies—begun during the 1790s—that established the Consulate and the Empire styles (for illustration see Empire style); although these terms were invented by later art historians to denote the change in political systems, in fact the styles to which they refer are virtually indistinguishable. Furniture was similar to that of the preceding Directoire style...

Article

French family of bronze-founders. Etienne Forestier (b Paris, c. 1712; d Paris, 1768), who became a master bronze-founder in 1737, supplied bronze furniture mounts to Jean-François Oeben, André-Charles Boulle and Gilles Joubert. He cast Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis’s models for bronzes on the Bureau du Roi by Oeben and Jean-Henri Riesener (1769; Paris, Louvre). The Forestiers feature in the accounts of the Bâtiments du Roi from 1755 until the Revolution. After Etienne’s death his widow and sons Etienne-Jean Forestier and Pierre-Auguste Forestier (b Paris, 1755; d Paris, 1835) continued the Parisian bronze-founding business from a workshop in the Rue Ste Avoie, Etienne-Jean having become a master in 1764. Their customers included Louis-François de Bourbon, Prince de Conti. The Forestiers also appear frequently, particularly from 1784 to 1788, in the accounts of the Garde Meuble de la Couronne under the directorship of the sculptor Jean Hauré, regarding bronzework for King ...

Article

Term used for a manifestation of the Neo-classical style initiated in the decorative arts of France during the Second Empire (1852–71) of Napoleon III and his wife, the Empress Eugénie. Based on the standard repertory of Greco-Roman ornament, it combined elements from the Adam, Louis XVI and Egyptian styles with a range of motifs inspired by discoveries at Pompeii, where excavations had begun in 1848; it can be identified by the frequent use of Classical heads and figures, masks, winged griffins, sea-serpents, urns, medallions, arabesques, lotus buds and borders of anthemion, guilloche and Greek fret pattern. Néo-Grec was eclectic, abstracted, polychromatic and sometimes bizarre; it enjoyed popularity as one of the many revival styles of the second half of the 19th century.

In Paris, the Néo-Grec style was best exemplified in the famous ‘Maison Pompéienne’ (1856–8; destr. 1891) designed for Prince Napoléon Bonaparte (see...

Article

Clare Le Corbeiller

(b June 8, 1763; d May 23, 1850).

French silversmith and cabinetmaker. He was a member of a prominent family of silversmiths active from the early 18th century. He became a master in 1785. The only surviving work by him dating from before the French Revolution (1789–95) is a coffee urn (Monticello, VA, Jefferson Found.) designed and commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. Odiot’s career as a silversmith essentially began in 1802 when he was awarded a gold medal in the third Exposition de l’Industrie in Paris. He executed a travelling service (c. 1795–1809) for Napoleon and a large table service (1798–1809; Munich, Residenz) for Maximilian I of Bavaria (1756–1825). Odiot’s major work dates from c. 1809 after the bankruptcy of the silversmith Henri Auguste family, whose models, tools and designs he purchased. Odiot’s most complex work was a set of dressing-table furniture made for Empress Marie Louise in 1810 (destr. 1832) and the cradle for the ...