(b Heinsberg, 9 Oct 1721; d Paris, 21 Jan 1763). French cabinetmaker of German birth. He was appointed Ebéniste du Roi in 1754 and was therefore able to work outside guild restrictions. His identifiable works span less than ten years. His earliest pieces are in the LouisXV style (e.g. small table, 1756-8; Munich, Residenzmus.), and he seems even to have completed some pieces started by Jean-Pierre Latz (e.g. pair of corner cupboards, c. 1750-55; Malibu, CA, Getty Mus.). From 1756 the essential elements of his work were fixed, as seen in the Dauphin's Desk (c. 1750; Versailles, Château), in which he still used slightly rounded lines and cube marquetry. He was influenced by the goût grec and his work became more radical. The lines of his commodes became straight, and the top drawer was reduced to a simple frieze; the front was divided by a panel, sometimes with floral marquetry, while the rest was veneered with geometric motifs (e.g. commode, 1760; Malibu, CA, Getty Mus.). He invented tambour shutters for use on secrétaires with doors and roll-top desks, and he revolutionized the technique of floral marquetry, using stained, burr amboina inlaid with combinations of indigenous woods. He was also one of the first cabinetmakers to produce furniture veneered entirely in mahogany. After his death his widow continued to run the workshop with the assistance of Jean-Henri Riesener, and together they finished the magnificent Bureau du Roi LouisXV (1769; Versailles, Château), which Oeben had left incomplete.
From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.