A superb Empire gilt bronze mounted mahogany console with original marble top by Jacob-Desmalter et Cie., stamped with the maker's name
Paris, date circa 1805
Height 92 cm, width 110 cm, depth 47 cm.
The highly celebrated firm of Jacob-Desmalter et Cie. was strongly patronised by Napoleon and especially by the Empress Joséphine. The firm was established by Georges Jacob (1739-1814), maître-menuisier in 1765. He was one of the first French furniture makers to take advantage of good quality mahogany for making chairs and thus reducing the need for gilding; instead he ornamented pieces with high quality gilt bronze mounts. He was particularly interested in Antiquity and made pieces in the austere classical style for the Neo-classical painter, J-L David. Jacob was employed by Louis XVI and many of the French aristocracy but the Revolution nearly destroyed him. However he was helped by David who introduced him to Percier and Fontaine. They subsequently designed the furniture which Jacob made for the Comité du Salut Public.
Georges Jacob retired in 1796, handing the business over to his two sons, Georges II (1768-1803) and François-Honoré-Georges (1770-1841) who renamed the firm Jacob Frères. When Georges II died in 1803, François assumed the name of Jacob-Desmalter; he went back to work with his father, renaming the business Jacob-Desmalter et Cie. Jacob-Desmalter et Cie. expanded and prospered, providing some of the finest Empire furniture for the Imperial palaces. Many pieces were designed by Percier and Fontaine and distinguished by their strict classical lines but richly ornamented with refined gilt bronze mounts inspired by Antiquity. Georges Jacob finally retired in 1813 and in 1825 François was succeeded by his own son. The firm continued under family ownership until 1847.