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Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806)

Jewel Cabinet 1787

Oak, mahogany, gilt bronze | 246.0 x 147.0 x 54.6 cm (whole object) | RCIN 31207

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This piece is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of furniture in the Louis XVI style. The prominent coat of arms identifies its first owner and commissioner as Marie-Josephine-Louise of Savoy, who in 1771 married Louis XVI’s younger brother, the Comte de Provence (the future Louis XVIII).

The cabinet was delivered by Jean-Henri Riesener in 1787 for the Versailles apartment of the king’s sister-in-law, in the same year that Marie-Antoinette ordered a Jewel cabinet from another cabinet-maker of German maker, Schwerdfeger (1734–1818). Subsequently, the cabinet was confiscated with the rest of royal couple’s property in 1793 and initially reserved for display in the Louvre. Three years later, as France’s financial situation worsened, the cabinet was sold. In 1809 it was offered to the imperial household by the new owner for half of what he bought it for. Napoleon was strongly encouraged to acquire it for Saint-Cloud but he rejected this advice. It was bought by George IV at the Watson Taylor sale in 1825 for 400 guineas, specifically intended for Windsor Castle.