Charles Cressent – French furniture designer

Posted on 21st February 2011 in French Designers, Furniture Designers

Charles Cressent (1685-1768) is considered to be one of the best decorative artists of the 18th Century. Born to Francois Cressent, a sculptor du roi and the grandson of Charles Cressent, a furniture maker and sculptor; it would make sense that he would continue in their footsteps as a French furniture maker, sculptor and fondeur-ciseleur of the late Régence and early Rococo periods. In the beginning of his career his works reflected his extensive training by André Charles Boulle, in the school of Boulle. Later, as he developed as an artist, his pieces would reveal his own unique and original style.

This style, rich with line, detail and ornamentation, he is best known for his highly sculptural gilt mounts that ornamented his furniture. This is expressed through female figures placed at the corners of tables as well as bronze mounts said to rival that of one of his contemporaries, Jacques Caffieri, master of the Rococo style. Executed with a sharpness of finish with an elegance and strength of outline, he produced furniture and clocks that were rich in color and intricate detailing. Gilt handles, representing Chinese dragons designed for his bathroom at the Hertford House, was one of his most elaborate. He boasted of producing the finest art pieces suitable to be placed in the finest of settings.

In order to supervise production and guarantee the quality of his mounts, he broke the strict rules of the French guild system and employed both master casters and gilders in his workshop. He was prosecuted by the guild for this practice.

Noted for his confidence in his artistic talents, he maintained careful records of the sale of his works published in three catalogues allowing for ease of identification and location. Because of this, much of his work has survived and is still able to be viewed and enjoyed until today.

One of his best known pieces is the bust of Louis, the son of Philip ll, Duke of Orléans whom he was also commissioned to make furniture for. The famous medailier, considered an outstanding example of 18th century French furniture is on display at the Bibliotèque Nationale. Additional original pieces of his work can be viewed at the Louvre and the Wallace Collection, a world famous museum in London specializing in display of fine and decorative art from the 15th to the 19th century.

His style of ornamentation included extensive use of marquetry; inlaid veneers of tortoiseshell, satinwood and amaranth woods fitted together to form an intricate design. This use of color and exuberance typified the Régence and early Rococo style.

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