Jean-Pierre Tahan

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Jean-Pierre-Alexandre Tahan (born October 11, 1813 in Paris , † March 26, 1892 ) was a French cabinet maker and, along with Paul Sormani, was one of the best in his field in the 19th century. His position as the chosen carpenter of Napoleon III. brought him both rise with the same and decline with the end of the second empire in France .

As the "prince of small carpentry", Tahan shaped his time with the care he put into each of his pieces, both works of art and everyday objects . Generally small or medium in size, these pieces of furniture have invaded bourgeois interiors, so that, according to the Book of Elegant Economy (1859), “they alone make up the entire physiognomy of the time”.


In Belgium in Spa , a small town in the Ardennes , Pierre-Lambert Tahan (1780–1844) started a carpentry business, in 1804 he left Spa for Paris and built his factory for "boxes and toiletry " in the temple district .

His son Jean-Pierre-Alexandre was born in Paris and helped him in 1837, then took over the overall management of the company in 1844, his father retired and died that same year. Tahan will then use his ingenuity to begin his great pioneering work. At his request, the workshop was greatly enlarged with the aim of becoming one of the most famous in Paris.

First, he separated the studio on rue de Quincampoix from the shop on rue basse du Wall . He develops the production of boxes, but also realizes larger pieces of furniture, " Bonheur-du-Jour ", desks , sewing tables . As early as 1845 he began to advertise in the newspapers, a practice that was still very little used.

“Supplier to the king and princes”, he won a silver medal at the exhibition for industrial products in 1849 and was then called the “prince of the small cabinet building”. In 1855 he was awarded the title “Supplier of the Emperor” at the world exhibition, where he exhibited an unusually shaped aviary . The court did indeed commission a large number of works, including rosewood planters, lounge tables for the Palais des Tuileries, and a mahogany and gilded bronze cabinet for Napoleon III's office. His business moved to 34 Rue de la Paix (1849–1866), then 11 Boulevard des Italiens (1866–1878).

In 1861, Tahan is thus described as "one of the manufacturers who outperform fashion and set the tone instead of following". ( The Chronicle of Arts and Curiosities ). In fact, he works quickly with Julien-Nicolas Rivart together to porcelain flowers which will be one of his favorite stylistic device in his furniture pieces appeal. Back then it was a new technique that put it at the forefront of modernism at the time.

As a gold medal at the World Exhibition of 1867, Tahan employed more than two hundred people in several workshops at the end of the Second Reich. Like Rivart, Tahan is an enthusiastic spirit for the inventions of the second half of the nineteenth century and filed a patent himself for the cylinder frame and another for document holders with a translucent front in 1858.

The Tahan Manufactory saw its decline after the fall of the German Empire in 1870, which it had supported so much. As a result, the factory stopped production in 1882 and the business was closed.

Voices about Tahan

“A unique company for its type of production, which knew how to assert itself due to the good taste of its compositions. With Tahan you never look at the price: It is important that the name Tahan appears on the object. "

- Pierre Giffard, Les Fourchambault, 1878


  • Ministère du commerce: Catalog des brevets d'invention , January 1, 1858.
  • Tahan, Jean Pierre Alexandre (1813-1892) in: Correspondance familiale , Compléments historiographiques, Biographies.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Denise Ledoux-Lebard: Le Mobilier français du XIXe siècle . Editions de l'Amateur, Paris 2000, pp. 700 .