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© The Frick Collection
© The Frick Collection
Jean-Henri Riesener  (1734–1806)
Commode, 1791
Oak veneered with various woods including ash, bloodwood, and amaranth; gilt bronze, leather, marble
37 3/4 x 56 3/4 x 24 5/8 in. (95.9 x 144.1 x 62.5 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest
Accession number: 1915.5.76
Currently on View
South Hall (141)
Link to floorplan and Virtual Tour

Jean-Henri Riesener, one of the eighteenth century’s finest French cabinetmakers, was appointed ébeniste du roi (cabinetmaker to the king) in 1774, the year Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette ascended to the throne. During the next ten years, Riesener made numerous pieces of furniture for the royal family, including the queen, who seems to have particularly appreciated the cabinetmaker’s imaginative designs and beautifully crafted furniture. Riesener lost his title in 1784 due to administrative changes in the Garde-Meuble Royal, the organization responsible for furnishing the royal residences, but continued to work for Marie-Antoinette. In the early 1780s, he delivered this commode and matching secretaire (1915.5.75) for one of the many residences she was refurnishing, possibly the Château de Saint-Cloud, west of Paris. Several years later, Riesener reworked these two pieces for her new apartment at the Tuileries, where the royal family was forced to reside after the revolution began in 1789. This required reducing their scale to better suit the humbled queen’s new abode. Riesener’s creative solution was to shorten each piece, change the feet, apply simpler mounts, and add a new marquetry panel on the center of each piece. He was no doubt pleased with the elegant results as he took the unusual step of signing and dating the new marquetry panels.

Source: Vignon, Charlotte. The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook. New York: The Frick Collection/Scala, 2015.


Marie-Antoinette. William Beckford (?). Tenth through twelfth Dukes of Hamilton. Hamilton Palace sale, Christie’s, London, June 17–July 20, 1882, the commode (Lot 302) sold to the Paris dealer H. Stettiner, from whom it passed to the Marquês da Foz, Lisbon, and the secrétaire (Lot 301) sold to the London dealer William Boore, from whom it passed to Guthrie of London. Duveen. Both pieces acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York, in 1899. Duveen. Frick, 1915.

Source: Furniture in The Frick Collection: French 18th- & 19th-Century Furniture (Pt. 2) & Gilt Bronzes. Volume VI. New York: The Frick Collection, 1992.