MOLITOR, Bernard
(b. 1755, Betzdorf, d. 1810, Paris)

Drop-front secretaire

c. 1789
Veneered oak, height 139 cm
Wallace Collection, London

This secretaire is made of oak veneered with mahogany, boxwood, sycamore and ebony; the top is of Carrara marble. Carefully chosen mahogany veneers were used to contrast with elaborate gilt-bronze mounts.

Molitor's close ties with the aristocracy is reflected in the royalist attitude of his works. He was one of the last cabinetmakers whose rise to prosperity was made possible by the patronage of the French court, and his work was much in demand until 1792, when the old order lost its power. In contrast to others in his profession, he survived the economic crisis of 1792 to 1795, and during the Directoire (1795-1799) his business prospered. During the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne (1814-1830) Molitor was the only cabinetmaker whose workshop had been in existence before the Revolution. His thirty-year career offers a fine overview of the evolution of French furniture from court styles through the development of new models to forms still being made today.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.