(b. 1685, Amiens, d. 1768, Paris)


French cabinet-maker and sculptor. Cressent was the leading proponent of the Régence style and introduced marquetries of coloured wood and ormolu to case decoration.

He was taught by his father, François Cressent, a sculptor in Amiens, and became a maître-ébéniste on 9 January 1708. In 1710 he went to Paris, where he worked in the studio of the cabinet-maker André-Charles Boulle. He subsequently became a pupil of François Girardon and became a maître sculpteur in the Académie de Saint-Luc, Paris, on 14 August 1714. In 1715 Cressent was appointed official cabinet-maker to Philippe II, duke d'Orlans. He obtained the title of Ebéniste du Régent in 1719, which allowed him to trade as a cabinet-maker free from guild restrictions. The richest French patrons, the Portuguese Court and many German princes bought furniture from him.

His work is of exceptional quality and epitomizes the Régence and early Louis XV styles, to which he remained faithful throughout his career. The forms of his pieces were perfectly curved and rendered sumptuous by abundant, virtuoso bronze mounts and emphatically serrated agraffe ornaments and mouldings. His lavish mounts to some extent obscured the restrained veneering or geometric marquetry, for which he almost always used rose-wood, purple-wood or satin-wood.

Above all, however, he was a sculptor, and he contravened guild restrictions by modelling the bronzes that adorn his furniture himself; these included terminals depicting the Four Continents (e.g. book-cabinet; Lisbon, Museu Gulbenkian), Child Musicians (e.g. commode) and Seated Women Holding Cornucopias (e.g. commode; both Munich, Residenzmuseum), all c. 1740. These figures were combined with vegetation consisting of palms, vines and garlands of flowers, which emphasized the furniture's contours. He also mounted furniture with busts of Mars (e.g. desk, c. 1740; Paris, Louvre) and espagnolette heads (female head surrounded by a stiff ruff; e.g. commode, c. 1730; London, Wallace Collection). He also made many, predominantly bronze, cartel-clocks, the most remarkable of which depicts the theme of Love Conquering Time (c. 1747; London, Wallace Collection).