Jacob Frères

Pair of French, Jacob period, painted and parcel-gilded fauteuils stamped 'Jacob Freres Rue Meslee.' Circa 1800.

Jacob Frères was the stamp used by the brothers Georges II (1768-1803) and François-Honoré Jacob (1770-1841) from 1796-1803. They were the sons of Georges Jacob (1739-1814), a furniture maker who worked for aristocracy and royalty during the reign of Louis XVI. Among his clients during that time were Marie Antoinette, the Comte d'Artois, and the Comte de Vandrenil. During the early years of the revolution, Georges Jacob produced furniture in the new "antique" style for the Painter Jacques-Louis David. This tie with the famous painter proved fortuitous as David later defended Georges Jacob from suspicions of having royalist sympathies and helped arranged Jacob to work for the National Convention supplying furniture for a meeting room. During this time Georges Jacob worked from designs by David and by a partnership of Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine, which explains the classical influences on the furniture, as these designers were known for favoring that type of design.

In 1796, during the Directory years, Georges Jacob decided to transfer his business to his two sons, Georges II and François-Honoré Jacob, and retire. The Jacob Frères company formed by the two brothers was supported by the governments it served under and held in high regard by the avant-garde who thought of the company as the "obvious and almost only choice in Paris for new luxury furniture." The Jacob Frères continued to work from designs by Percier and Fontaine much like their father, however, the younger brother, François-Honoré Jacob, was also an accomplished draftsman and could create designs for lesser pieces of furniture that complimented the design provided. The Jacob Frères would also take the successful designs and reproduce them for other clients on unrelated commissions, which helped to spread the empire style and also made the imperial residences relatively uniform in decoration. However, this also means that any particular model cannot be attributed to anyone without the design on paper by a recognizable signature.

Pair of French, Jacob period, painted and parcel-gilded fauteuils stamped 'Jacob Freres Rue Meslee.' Circa 1800.

The Jacob Frères most famous client was Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. She would have most likely seen the work of their father during the revolution in a progressive aristocrat's house. She used them to decorate various imperial residences, such as the Tuileries palace, and remained a loyal customer, using them almost exclusively, until her death. When Georges II (the elder brother) died in 1803, Georges came out of retirement to help the remaining son, François-Honoré (who changed his named to Jacob Desmalter) from a new partnership called Jacob Desmalter Et Cie. (stamped Jacob D. R. Mesleé, on two lines), which continued to be a influential supplier for the imperial period and is credited with helping to define the Empire style as it is known today.


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  • Ward, John D. "From Mahogany to Gilt: Josephine's Choices in Furniture." Josephine and the Arts of the Empire. Eleanor P Delorme. Getty Publishing: Los Angeles, 2005. Print.