A Selection of Important Furniture Makers

Many of my friends know that I am a huge fan of furniture, specifically historical furniture.  Luckily for me, there isn’t a shortage of beautiful specimens tucked away in museums and historical homes.  What originally made me fall in love with historical furniture was the use of unique styles and woods to transform something so common as a storage cabinet or chair, into an incredibly unique and sumptuous piece of art.  For those who aren’t familiar with the furniture world, it can all feel a bit daunting.  To get you started in the right direction I’ve created a small list of furniture makers worth knowing, along with resources should you wish to learn more.  This is not a comprehensive list, so if you feel I have missed anyone please let me know so I might add them in.  

André Charles Boulle


French (fig. 1)

  • Successor of Pierre Gole
  • Highly skilled cabinet maker, draughtsman, designer, & creator
  • Considered master of marquetry
  •  Made a lot of clocks
  • Became ébéniste du roi in 1672*   
  • Main patrons Louis XVI/Marie Antoinette & their court
  • Favored tortishell & brass combo in works

Wikipedia Link

*Translated: Cabinetmaker to the King, it was a prestigious title given to only one cabinetmaker by French kings

Thomas Chippendale


English (fig. 2)

  • Based in London
  • One of the ‘Big Three’ furniture makers**
  • Published designs launched him into international fame
  • Considered top example of British furniture ever

Wikipedia Link

**Deemed the most important furniture makers in English history, comprised of Thomas Chippendale, George Heppelwhite, and Thomas Sheraton

Domenico Cucci

1635 - 1704


  • Trained in Florence
  • Active in Versailles during Louis XIV’s lifetime
  • Made throne for Louis XIV
  • Worked out of Gobelins
  • Specialized in table/inlay & bronze works

Wikipedia Link

Edward William Godwin

1833 – 1886

English (fig. 3)

Wikipedia Link

Pierre Gole

c. 1620 – 1684

Flemish/French (fig. 4)

  • Trained in Antwerp
  • Active in Versailles/Louis XIV
  • Distinctive wood and metal working
  • Specialized in highly detailed pieces (used luxurious materials)
  • Imitated Japanese lacquer
  • Painted lacquer put over the top of piece
  • Very rare!
  • Commissioned by Cardinal Mazarin as well

Wikipedia Link

George Hepplewhite


English (fig. 5)

  • Based in London
  • One of the ‘Big Three’ furniture makers
  • Main characteristics of his chair is the ‘shield back’
  • His styles were popular 1775-1800

Wikipedia Link

Jean-François Leleu


French (fig. 6)

  • Nephew of Pierre Gole
  • Trained by Oeben in Paris
  • Highly skilled cabinet maker
  • Worked in France
  •  Main patron Mme. du Barry

Wikipedia Link

Daniel Marot

1661 - 1752


  • Nephew of Pierre Gole
  • Trained by Le Pautre in Paris
  • Highly skilled cabinet maker, draughtsman, designer, & creator
  • Worked in Holland & England
  • Main patron William III

Wikipedia Link

Jean-François Oeben


German/French (fig. 7)

  • German by birth
  • Best known for his rolling desk (completed by Riesener)
  • Main client was Mme. de Pompadour
  • Early user of neoclassical style
  • His widow went on to remarry Riesener
  • Grandfather of Eugène Delacroix

Wikipedia Link

Jean Henri Riesener


German/French (fig. 8)

  • German by birth
  • Highly skilled cabinet maker (Louis XVI style)
  • Worked in France
  • Given title ébéniste du roi in 1774
  • Main patrons Louis XVI/Marie Antoinette & their court

Wikipedia Link

Thomas Sheraton


English (fig. 9)

  • Based in London
  • One of the ‘Big Three’ furniture makers
  • Produce many design books during his lifetime
  • His styles were popular 1790s-1820s

Wikipedia Link

Charles de Wailly



Wikipedia Link

fig. 1 André Charles Boulle
fig. 2 Thomas Chippendale
fig. 3 Edward William Godwin
fig. 4 Pierre Gole

fig. 5 George Hepplewhite
fig. 6 Jean-François Leleu
fig. 7 Jean-François Oeben
fig. 8 Jean Henri Riesener
fig. 9 Thomas Sheraton


Dampierre, Florence de. Chairs: A History. New York: Abrams, 2006.

Hough, Romeyn Beck & Klaus Ulrich Leistikow. The Woodbook: The Complete Plates. Rev. ed. Cologne: Taschen, 2002.

Kisluk-Grosheide, Daniëlle O. French Royal Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. [link]  

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide, Wolfram Koeppe, William Rieder, and Joseph Coscia. European Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. [link]

The Furniture History Society [link]

The V&A Furniture Collection [link]

The Wallace Collection [link]

Image credits:

fig. 1 Cabinet on Stand, Attributed to André Charles Boulle, 1679, The J. Paul Getty Museum [link]

fig.2 Chair with Lascelles crest, Thomas Chippendale, 1700s, Harewood Housed [link]

fig. 3 Sideboard, 1867-1870, Edward William Godwin, V&A Museum no. CIRC.38:1 to 5-1953 [link]

fig. 4 Writing desk, Pierre Gole, c. 1680, ebony, rosewood, fruitwoods, gilt wood, pewter, brass. California Palace of the Legion of Honor [link]

fig. 5 George III mahogany dining chair in the Hepplewhite style, c.1790, Attributed to George Hepplewhite, private collection [link]

fig. 6 Secrétaire à abattant, Jean-François Leleu, c.1770-1780, Musée Nissim de Camondo [link]

fig. 7 Secrétaire à cylindre, Jean-François Oeben, c.1775, Musée Nissim de Camondo [link]

fig. 8 Chest of drawers, Jean-Henri Riesener, 1776, Waddesdon Manor [link]

fig. 9 A chair attributed to Thomas Sheraton of England, with a rectangular back [link]

Note: All views and opinions expressed are the author's own. If you feel there is missing information or wish to discuss any of the works please contact me.