Mathieu Criaerd (circa 1689–1776)


A talented cabinetmaker, Mathieu Criaerd created some of the finest pieces of furniture from Louis XV’s reign, in a distinctly Rocaille style.
Mathieu Criaerd, Chest-of-drawers delivered in 1742 by Thomas-Joachim Hébert for Madame de Mailly (detail), 1742, Paris, Musée du Louvre (inv. OA 11292)
© 2012 Musée du Louvre / Thierry Ollivier

Born around 1689, Mathieu Criaerd came from a dynasty of cabinetmakers of Flemish origin. He settled in Paris on Rue Traversière before becoming a master in 1738. He developed a delicate style, mainly making tables and chests-of-drawers: in 1767, when his workshop was inventoried, more than half of his collection consisted of chests-of-drawers. He was particularly fond of friezing, combining tulipwood, satiné and amaranth on his furniture and playing on their lines and veining. Criaerd was particularly fond of diamond marquetry, which gave his furniture an original geometric design. The bronzes that adorned his creations were of a flourishing rocaille design and seemed to come from a single model, probably given to him by the marchand mercier Thomas-Joachim Hébert, for whom he worked regularly. The fronts of his chests-of-drawers generally featured a central ormolu cartouche in the shape of a violin, in which the handles were concealed.
Mathieu Criaerd, Chest-of-drawers with diamond marquetry, Louis XV period, Galerie Léage

From the early 1740s, Criaerd worked with the marchand mercier Hébert, who gave him access to important court commissions. In 1742, through his intermediary, he designed the furniture for Madame de Mailly’s bedroom at the Château de Choisy. To match the blue and white silk moire covering the walls of the room, the cabinetmaker decorated the chest-of-drawers in the same colors with an original Martin varnish with flower and bird motifs, enriched with silvered bronze ornaments. A few months later, Criaerd added a sideboard with the same decoration. A writing table, no longer in existence, completed the set. This delivery introduced the cabinetmaker’s work to the court, and marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration with Hébert.
In 1748, the marchand mercier delivered a chest-of-drawers made by Criaerd for the Dauphin’s retiring cabinet in Versailles, decorated with his characteristic diamond marquetry combining kingwood, satiné and amaranth. The whole was surrounded by a finely chased bronze decoration with a central violin cartouche.

Mathieu Criaerd, Chest-of-drawers delivered in 1748 by Thomas-Joachim Hébert for the Dauphin’s retreat cabinet at Versailles, 1748, Versailles, Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon (inv. V4948)
© Château de Versailles, Dist. RMN / © Christophe Fouin

Criaerd also worked for the king’s cabinetmakers, who entrusted him with the production of furniture that they could not deliver. Antoine-Robert Gaudreaus, then his successor Gilles Joubert, delegated some of their orders to him. In 1743, the first delivered a corner cupboard made by Criaerd for the new apartments on the first floor of the Château de Choisy, decorated with delicate diamond-point marquetry. A few years later, in 1745, Gaudreaus delivered another piece of furniture made by Criaerd to the Garde-Meuble, a corner shelf for the Dauphin’s wardrobe in Fontainebleau.
Mathieu Criaerd, Chest-of-drawers delivered in 1742 by Thomas Joachim Hébert for Madame de Mailly, 1742, Paris, Musée du Louvre (inv. OA 11292)
© 2012 Musée du Louvre / Thierry Ollivier
Through the intermediary of marchands merciers, Criaerd produced luxury furniture, in line with the fashion for furniture veneered with Asian lacquer, of which he produced a large number. The idea of combining lacquers probably originated with Hébert, who supplied his clientele with a large number of pieces decorated in this way. The chest-of-drawers in the Louvre is a particularly rich example of his work decorated with Asian lacquer. Veneered with a colored Chinese lacquer in light relief, it is embellished with rocaille bronzes, carved and openworked, in plant shapes. Criaerd often completed the decoration with European varnish, or covered the entire piece of furniture with it, as in the case of Madame de Mailly’s chest-of-drawers.
Mathieu Criaerd, Chest-of-drwaers with polychrome lacquer, circa 1745–1750, Paris, Musée du Louvre (inv. OA 10456)
© 2008 Musée du Louvre / Objets d’art du Moyen Âge, de la Renaissance et des temps modernes
Criaerd produced a large number of pieces for the court throughout his career, using subtle diamond marquetry and luxurious Asian lacquer veneers. When his wife died in 1767, he handed over his workshop to one of his sons, Sébastien-Mathieu.
Alexandre Pradère, Les Ébénistes français de Louis XIV à la Révolution, Paris, Éditions du Chêne, 1989
Jean Vittet, « Le marchand Thomas-Joachim Hébert (1687−1773) et l’ébénisterie de son temps » in Le Commerce du luxe à Paris aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècle, échanges nationaux et internationaux, Berne, Peter Lang


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© 2023, Galerie Léage

Conçu par Lettera.