The Golden Age of French Furniture. From the Workshop to the Palace

In the 18th century, French furniture attained an unprecedented level of technical and artistic quality. This was enabled by the favourable conditions present at the time: furniture evolved to reflect societal changes, adapting to the emerging needs of the population. To achieve this, cabinetmakers and ébénistes developed new techniques. Furniture was now designed with a specific purpose in mind, although its aesthetic appearance was also taken into consideration.

Drawing on emblematic items of furniture, this exhibition aims to analyse, in a non-exhaustive manner, what lay behind the execution of these fantastic pieces, including the artisans involved, the different workshops, and the materials, techniques and tools used – elements which were essential in achieving this level of excellence – in the so-called Golden Age of French furniture.

The publication accompanying the exhibition is part of the Conversas [Conversations] series and the bilingual texts (Portuguese/English) are written by the curator of the exhibition, Clara Serra, and by Helen Jacobsen.

Clara Serra explores the development of French furniture during the 18th century and the social and economic context in which it emerged.

Helen Jacobsen discusses cabinetmaking in Paris during the 18th century, the professionals and guilds operating in the sector, and the materials and techniques used by cabinetmakers and ébénistes.

Technical information

Clara Serra and Helen Jacobsen
Editorial coordination:
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
10 €