In the XVIIIth century, the Martin brothers were rightly considered as the greatest varnishers of their period. The first two, Guillaume and Etienne-Simon, formed a partnership on November 10, 1727 and managed their workshops in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine and the Faubourg Saint-Martin respectively.
Guillaume Martin was named “master painter, sculptor, illuminator” in Paris on August 22, 1713 and then Varnisher to the King, by royal warrant signed by the duke of Antin on June 25, 1725.
Etienne-Simon was became a master on April 20, 1728.
The inventory of the Martins’ workshop in 1730 mentions that the painter-varnishers Dubuisson and Rémy, as well as Lamy, Guillaume Martin’s father-in-law and his brother Robert, worked at the Martins’ as jobbers.
In the same way, Antoine Igou, a renowned varnisher, was a subcontractor for certain works sold by the Martin brothers.
Later on, Robert and his youngest brother Julien joined the company formed by their elders and the Martins added a third workshop, located on the rue Saint-Magloire. In 1748, the Martin brothers’ firm was raised to a royal manufacture by the Crown. Despite changing tastes, the firm on the rue Saint-Magloire would survive until the eve of the French Revolution. The journal of Lazare Duvaux and the 1730 inventory give a very complete picture of their production: in it is found an extremely diverse group of furniture, painted with aventurine, jonquil yellow, green, red and black in the Chinese style.
Henry Martin (sous la direction de). Le style Louis XV, Paris, 1944.
Jean d'Arnault. Un meuble d'exception.