Charles Cressent


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(b Amiens, 16 Dec 1685; d Paris, 10 Jan 1768). French cabinetmaker and sculptor. He was taught by his father, François Cressent, a sculptor in Amiens, and became a maître-ébéniste on 9 January 1708. He obtained the title of Ebéniste du Régent in 1719, which allowed him to trade as a cabinetmaker 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 (hooked) ornaments and mouldings (see colour pl. VIII, fig. 4). His lavish mounts to some extent obscured the restrained veneering or geometric marquetry, for which he almost always used rosewood, 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, Mus. Gulbenkian), Child Musicians (e.g. commode) and Seated Women Holding Cornucopias (e.g. commode; both Munich, Residenzmus.), 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). He also made many, predominantly bronze, cartel-clocks, the most remarkable of which depicts the theme of Love Conquering Time (c. 1747; London, Wallace).

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

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