Friday, January 1, 1971

Guillaume Beneman (circa 1750-1811)

Guillaume Beneman
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Originally from Germany (circa 1750-1811), Guillaume Beneman set up in Paris on a date that is still not known. He quickly became one of the most celebrated cabinetmakers of his time.
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Not a single archival document mentioning him prior to the accounts of the Royal Furniture Repository for the year 1784 has yet to be found. To such an extent that the circumstances that would lead to his appointment as Cabinetmaker to the King and his promotion to master through someone’s favor are unknown to this day. The idea of Queen Marie-Antoinette’s intervention must all that more easily be put aside as the queen continued to turn to Riesener for the furnishings paid for by her privy purse.
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It seems that Thierry de Ville d’Avray, director of the Royal Furniture Repository starting in 1784, inaugurating a new management policy, had sought a less costly and less independent-minded executant than Riesener and that Beneman had been presented to him by Jean Hauré.
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Very rapidly placed at the head of the most important workshops of his period, Beneman used his irreproachable technique to serve the Furniture Repository and expertly made use of a policy whose aim was to unify the style of the furnishings of the royal residences. His later work, under the Directoire, shows that he adapted forms in fashion, giving them a certain elegance.
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Beneman is still cited under the Empire, but these years are shrouded with the same mystery as those of his youth. At the least, it can be supposed that he had died or was no longer in France at the return of the Bourbons to whom he would not have failed to recall by some petition the years he had spent in the service of the Crown and all the more so as the new director of the Furniture Repository was once again Thierry de Ville d’Avray.