The Tahan Manufactory, a famous furniture manufacturer in the 19th century, reached its apogee as a supplier of Napoleon III under the Second Empire. Specializing in small boxes at the turn of the century, Tahan developed a wide range of small and medium-sized furniture, adapted to middle class interiors, becoming "the prince of small cabinetmaking".

The great refinement of the precious wood veneers and gilt bronze magnify the ornamental furniture pieces such as bonheurs-du-jour, sewing tables, chests and desks. Anxious to remain at the forefront of progress in decorative arts, Tahan purchases porcelain inlays by Julien-Nicolas Rivart, and shares a stand with him at the Universal Exhibition of 1855.

Napoleon III hence offered Princess Marie-Clotilde a bonheur-du-jour, signed by Tahan, and the royal couple of England brought into the collections a magnificent coffer, laminated with lapis. One of the most striking houses of the nineteenth century, Tahan had the reputation of being "ahead of fashion and setting the tone".

Julien-Nicolas Rivart

Julien-Nicolas Rivart (1802-1867) is the inventor of a hitherto unseen technique, which never afterwards could be reproduced : porcelain marquetry. Patented in 1849, it enables to inlay a painted decoration without taking more space than necessary, and to left exposed the beauty of the support’s other materials.

Applied in furniture pieces in rosewood, ebony, mahogany, but also in velvet or leather, these incrustations have the bright colors and the delicacy which is proper to porcelain painting. They are admired at the Universal Exhibitions of 1851, 1855 and 1867, for they are in fact perfect examples of the technical emulation in the age of the great inventions.

Adopted by the most prominent cabinet-makers like Tahan and Alphonse Giroux et Cie, Julien-Nicolas Rivart’s process has seduced the aristocracy, and even sovereigns such as Napoleon III, Eugenie de Montijo and Queen Victoria.

Exhibition at the Marc Maison Gallery: «The magic of a kaolin bouquet » A collection of furniture pieces and works of art decorated with Julien-Nicolas Rivart’s rare porcelain inlays, between 1850 and 1867.

Once again immersing us in the world of the Universal Exhibitions, the Marc Maison Gallery displays its large collection of works by Julien-Nicolas Rivart, of twenty-four unique pieces, all decorated with his porcelain flowers. From sumptuous “bureau plat” to the document folders, these rare luxury items will be offered to the amateurs’ eyes, from May 19 to August 15, 2017, in the new gallery of the Marché Cambo, in the Flea Market of Paris Saint-Ouen.

Julien-Nicolas Rivart is the well-known name of the inventor who revolutionized the aesthetics of porcelain decorated furniture by depositing his patent in 1849. Since the 18th century, the aristocracy has been an amateur of porcelain’s delicacy, and likes to see it decorate its furniture. Cabinetmakers then found a way to fix plaques of porcelain with a bronze mount, but failed to inlay it in the manner of marquetry or the Florentine mosaic of hard stones.

Jewel case realized by Julien-Nicolas Rivart, formerly owned by Elsa Schiaparelli. Marc Maison Gallery.

The « Rivart porcess » is thus the story of a humble decorator on porcelain’s stroke of genius, who suddenly became a privileged collaborator of suppliers of the Second Empire. . Suddenly emerging from anonymity, he then created exceptional works with the companies Tahan and Alphonse Giroux et Cie, from which the Marc Maison Gallery shows here magnificent examples.

The jewelry boxes, sewing tables, desks, and other works presented in this exhibition thus have the refined quality of the items that were to be accepted at the Universal Exhibitions. The finest wood species and the most delicate woodworking techniques are here deploying all their beauty. Rivart participates indeed in the very first of these exceptional exhibitions, in 1851 at the Crystal Palace in London, and will be present at those of 1855 and 1867, with various furniture manufacturers.
Sketch accompanying Rivart's patent from 1849, INPI, Paris.

To the right : A sewing table by Tahan at the 1855 World's Fair.
To the left : Sewing table with a decoration of porcelain marquetry signed by Tahan, Marc Maison Gallery

With a romantic poetry, to which the generation of 'Eugénie de Montijo and Queen Victoria is receptive, the flowers of Rivart immortalize the ephemeral work of nature in porcelain. He collaborated during the 1850s with with a young painter, just stepping from the Sèvres Manufactory, Pierre-Joseph Guérou, whose brush has signed several of the exhibited works. The illusionist accuracy of these paintings has the great merit of not stiffening their subject in any way, giving the appearance of fresh flowers as on the first day.

The title of the exhibition pays tribute to the lyricism of the writer Auguste Luchet as he was standing in front of these incrustations : “One can not imagine, if one did not see, ​​the magic that results from a bouquet of kaolin on a black background framed with gilding, detaching its fresh and lively colors from the darker environment of rosewood, amaranth or violet wood.” (The Industrial Art at the Universal Exhibition of 1867, 1868).

An exceptional "violin" style desk signed by Tahan Manufactory, Rivart & Andrieux and the painter Guérou.
Dated 1853-1856. Marc Maison Gallery.

The most important museums preserve objects formerly acquired by Eugénie de Montijo (Palais de Compiègne), the Count de Manneville (Cité de la Céramique of Sèvres) or the Queen for the Palazzo Pitti (Florence, Italy).
This is a perfect example of technical emulation in the mid-nineteenth century, a fertile period for the invention of airship, pasteurization or the steam motorcycle. The invention of Rivart will only be mastered by him, so that the incrustations of porcelain produced between 1850 and 1867, when he died, are unique works.

This exhibition follows the publication of the book published in collaboration with Emmanuelle Arnauld, Masterpieces of Marquetry in the 19th century, Patents., Dijon, Faton, 2012.

It will be held from 19 May to 15 August 2017 at the Marc Maison Gallery, Marché Cambo, 75 rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen (Paris Flea Market)

All information is on our website: www.marcmaison.com/expo

Phone : +33 (0)6 60 62 61 90

The exhibition's catalog


The andirons

Necessary for the good combustion of fire since the early Antiquity, the firedogs, or andirons, are placed under the logs and allow the circulation of the air. It is certainly their role as “guardians” of the fire that earned them the name derived from the word “dog” since the Middle Ages. First made of wood, they are quickly designed in wrought iron.

The decorative heads of andirons, symmetrical and made of copper, developed in the Renaissance and in the 17th century, are often adorned with a ball. However, it was with the gilt bronze of the 18th century that andirons models multiplied, becoming real sculptures: animals and chimeras guarding the hearth, scenes of gallantries or elements of architecture.

The Louis XV and Louis XVI style models have invaded all the Châteaux and Mansions, including the Versailles Palace, and have remained sources of inspiration for the 19th century. The latter will be particularly interested in this medieval object, the rustic iron manufacture of which he also rehabilitated, and that it coated in Neo-Gothic fantasies.