Georges Jacob

Dates1739 - 1814, master 1765
RolesArtist, Maker, Menuisier

Despite his humble origins, Georges Jacob rose to become one of the most renowned menuisiers of his day. Unlike many artisans who joined their fathers or brothers in the middle-class family trade of furniture making, Jacob was from a peasant family and moved to Paris at sixteen to begin his career. He apprenticed in a joinery workshop and eventually became a master in 1765. He developed a reputation for producing inventive designs for chairs, beds, and screens carved with such motifs as twisted ribbons, guilloches, beading, and fluting.

Jacob's reputation grew quickly, eventually spreading outside France; the future King George IV of England, Gustavus III of Sweden, and several German princes all ordered furniture from him. During the French Revolution, his debts mounted as several of his French clients fled the country or were executed. Despite his aristocratic business connections, which would have provoked suspicion from the revolutionary government, Jacob's friendship with the painter Jacques-Louis David helped him to avoid imprisonment, and he became one of the main suppliers of furniture to the revolutionary government and later to Emperor Napoleon.

Jacob retired in 1796, turning his business over to his two sons. When the older son died, Jacob returned to work and watched the firm become one of the most important of the period, supplying pieces to many wealthy residences and employing more than three hundred workmen.