Jean Francois Oeben - Encyclopedia

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JEAN FRANCCOIS OEBEN, French 18th-century cabinetmaker, is believed to have been of German or Flemish origin; the date of his birth is unknown, but he was dead before 1767. In. 1752, twenty years after Boulle's death, we find him occupying an apartment in the Louvre sublet to him by Charles Joseph Boulle, whose pupil he may have been. He has sometimes been confused with Simon Oeben, presumably a relative, who signed a fine bureau in the Jones collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. J. F. Oeben is also represented in that collection by a pair of inlaid corner-cupboards. These with a bureau and a chiffonier in the Garde Meuble in which bouquets of flowers are delicately inlaid in choice woods are his best-known and most admirable achievements. He appears to have worked extensively for the marquise de Pompadour by whose influence he was granted lodgings at the Gobelins and the title of "Ebeniste du Roi" in 1754. There he remained until 1760, when he obtained an apartment and workshops at the Arsenal. His work in marquetry is of very great distinction, but he would probably never have enjoyed so great a reputation had it not been for his connexion with the famous Bureau du Roi, made for Louis XV., which appears to have owed its inception to him, notwithstanding that it was not completed until some considerable time after his death and is signed by J. H. Riesener (q.v.) only. Documentary evidence under the hand of the king shows that it was ordered from Oeben in 1760, the year in which he moved to the Arsenal. The known work of Oeben possesses genuine grace and beauty; as craftsmanship it is of the first rank, and it is remarkable that, despite his Teutonic or Flemish origin, it is typically French in character.

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