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Michael Thonet

(1796—1871)


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(b Boppard, 3 July 1796; d Vienna, 3 March 1871). Austrian furniture-maker of German birth. Around 1830 he began to develop the Bentwood technique (long, narrow veneers glued together) to make Biedermeier chairs in Boppard; his new technique made it easier and cheaper to produce bold designs. In 1841 he applied for a patent in France and exhibited his bentwood products in Koblenz, after which Prince Klemens von Metternich invited him to move to Vienna. In 1842 Thonet presented his furniture to the Niederösterreichische Kunstgewerbeverein and received a licence authorizing him to practise in Vienna. From that time he and his sons, Franz (1820-98), Michael (1824-1902), August (1829-1910), Josef (1830-87) and Jakob (1841-1929), began to produce cheap furniture in the workshop of the Viennese master joiner Clemens List. From 1843 to 1847 Thonet contributed to the refurbishment of the Baroque Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna, making the parquet floors and several extremely light stools (in situ).

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From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.


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