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Meissonier, Juste Aurele

MEISSONIER, JUSTE AURELE (1695-1750), French goldsmith, sculptor, painter, architect, and furniture designer, was born at Turin, but became known as a worker in Paris, where he died. His Italian origin and training were probably responsible for the extravagance of his decorative style. He shared, and perhaps distanced, the meretricious triumphs of Oppenard and Germain, since he dealt with the Baroque in its most daring and flamboyant developments. Rarely does he leave a foot or two of undecorated space; the effect of the whole is futile and fatiguing. It was because Meissonier carried the style of his day to its extreme that he acquired so vast a popularity. Like the English brothers Adam at a later day he not only as architect built houses, but as painter and decorator covered their internal walls; he designed the furniture and the candlesticks, the silver and the decanters for the table; he was as ready to produce a snuff-box as a watch case or a sword hilt. Not only in France, but for the nobility of Poland, Portugal and other countries who took their fashions and their taste from Paris, he made designs, which did nothing to improve European taste. Yet his achievement was not wholly without merit. His work in gold and silver-plate was often graceful and sometimes bold and original. He was least successful in furniture, where his twirls and convolutions, his floral and rocaille motives were conspicuously offensive. He was appointed by Louis XV. Dessinateur de la chambre et du cabinet du roi; the post of designer pour les pompes funebres et galantes was also held along with that of Orfevre du roi.

For our knowledge of his work we are considerably indebted to his own books of design: Lime d'ornements en trente pieces; Lime d'orfevrerie d'eglise en six pieces, and Ornements de la carte chronologique.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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