Friday, January 1, 1971

Canabas, Joseph Gengenbach (b. circa 1715-d.1797)

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Canabas, Joseph Gengenbach
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Joseph Gengenbach, called Canabas, was a cabinetmaker of note who was born circa 1715 and died in Paris on January 11, 1797. He was the son of a craftsman of the trade, who in all likelihood came from the margraviate of Baden and who worked in Alsace during the time of Louis XV. 
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Settling early on in Paris, he wed, in 1745, Marie-Reine Parmentier, the daughter of a fellow craftsman and moved to the rue de Charonne as a privileged worker of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. 
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His talents were used at this period by famous furniture dealers such as Pierre Migeon and Jean-François Oeben, to whom he notably sold “spiral desks,” “secretaire screens” and tables that could be dismantled to be used for travel or by armies. Canabas became a specialist in this type of whimsical furniture, which he continued to produce in great number after being named master on April 1, 1766. 
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The increasing size of his business soon led him to take a much larger workshop on the main street of the Faubourg, opposite the rue Saint-Nicolas. 
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During the French Revolution, Canabas managed, not without some difficulty, to save his firm, which had become very prosperous by the time he died under the Directoire. 
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Joseph Gegenbach, called Canabas, was a highly skilled joiner-cabinetmaker who specialized almost entirely in small pieces of furniture, almost all of them in mahogany. 
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The number of carefully worked pieces he made was considerable. He only very occasionally undertook large productions such as armoires, commodes and secretaires. 
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The way in which Joseph Canabas worked was very particular. He used mahogany of the finest quality and of excellent color with a very close grain. His works distinguish themselves in the perfection of their woodworking. The furniture he produced has withstood the passage of time and the perfection of their execution is truly admirable. 
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Comte François de Salverte. Les Ebénistes du XVIII° siècle. Les Editions d’art and d’histoire. Paris, 1955.
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Jean NICOLAY L'Art et la Manière des Maîtres Ebénistes français au XVIII° siècle.