Bernard Molitor

Dates1730 - after 1811, master 1787

Bernard Molitor was the rare ébéniste whose furniture-making business prospered both before and after the French Revolution. He arrived in Paris from Luxembourg when he was quite young and experimented first with a career in sales. In a 1778 newspaper he advertised insect repellent, and six years later he was selling "hand-warmers...made in the form of books, for use in church, in a carriage, at the theatre or when traveling."

Molitor did not become a master ébéniste until 1787; one of his earliest commissions was to construct a mahogany floor for Queen Marie-Antoinette's boudoir at Fontainebleau. This led to other orders from the queen and members of the aristocracy. Although the Revolution forced him to close his workshop for a period of time, he opened it again with even greater success. With the help of a large staff, Molitor was able to produce a variety of commodes, writing and dining tables, desks, secrétaires, and cabinets, usually veneered with mahogany, satinwood, or Japanese lacquer and decorated with finely chased gilt bronze mounts. By 1800 he purchased a house on the exclusive rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where he died at seventy-eight, a wealthy man.