b. 1695 Turin, Italy, d. 1750 Paris; master 1724
silversmith; architect; designer
Described by one of his contemporaries as "an unruly genius, and, what's more, spoilt by Italy," Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier was the leading and most extravagant pioneer of the Rococo style in the decorative arts. Early in his career, Meissonnier migrated from Italy to Paris to work for the royal Gobelins Manufactory. In 1724 he received his warrant as master goldsmith from Louis XV; his appointment as designer for the king's bedchamber and cabinet in 1726 solidified his position. Although qualified to practice as a goldsmith, Meissonnier seems to have concentrated on providing drawings of objects designed with flowing scrolls, asymmetrical foliage and dripping water motifs, many of which were also engraved. His personal involvement with the actual execution of objects is still unknown, but he was probably commissioned to produce designs that were then made in gold or silver by another silversmith. Meissonnier provided designs for a variety of clients including the French king and church as well as English, Polish, and Portuguese nobles. He produced works of astonishing variety: paneling for rooms, picture frames, tables, chairs, snuffboxes, lanterns, crucifixes, clocks, and even a project to celebrate the wedding of Louis XV's eldest daughter, which included an elaborate architectural setting for the fireworks display.