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'In de commode van Parijs tot Den Haag' Matthijs Horrix (1735 -1809), een meubelmaker in Den Haag in de tweede helft van de achttiende eeuw

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

Since 1988, when this journal carried an article on Andrics Bongen (ca. 1732-1792), probably the first cabinet-maker in Amsterdam to have made marquetry furniture in the French style in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, not one item has been added to his small oeuvre. It is therefore still not clear whether Bongen had a long and successful career, nor whether his production was large. This article deals with the eighteenth-century activities of Matthijs Horrix (1735 -1809), a furniture maker who in certain aspects may be regarded as Bongen's Hague counterpart. He, too, hailed from Germany, set up independently in the Netherlands in the 1760s and worked in the French style from the outset of his career. There are however no doubts as to bis success : he was The Hague's best-known furniture maker in the late eighteenth century, with the largest workshop. In the course of the nineteenth century the firm he founded grew into the largest in the Netherlands (note 4). Whereas it cannot be ascertained whether 'French' cabinet-making was ever a dominant trend in Amsterdam, one gets the impression that such was to some extent the case in The Hague after 1760. In the city where the Stadholder's court and foreign embassies were based, the French-oriented court style had been a significant factor since at least the late seventeenth century (notes 5, 6 and 8). Many patrons in The Hague were probably keen on furniture which actually came from France. In 1771 the guild of furniture makers complained to the city council about the influx of furniture imported from abroad; this probably meant imports from France (notes 9 and 10). Several furniture makers in The Hague began to imitate the French models. As early as 1761 Matthijs Franses (ca. 1726-1788), who came from Kempen near Krefeld, advertized that he made and sold a variety of veneered furniture in the French style. His descriptions are not very clear, but mention is made of commodes and tables inlaid with copper (in the Boulle technique?), commodes 'à la Diligence' with gilded bronze mouldings and marble tops, desks and 'Ouvrages en ébène'. Franses says nothing about marquetry featuring different kinds of wood, the most popular decorative technique in Paris around 1760 and the kind of work with which Bongen made his debut in Amsterdam in 1766. It seems likely that Horrix arrived in The Hague around 1761. He was born in 1735, probably in Lobberich near Krefeld (note 25). In a petition submitted in 1764 he stated that he had been apprenticed to a cabinet-maker in The Hague 'for some years'; the period in question was probably not longer than three years (notes 26 and 27). At the beginning of this period, then, Horrix was already 25 years of age or older. In view of the common practice throughout Europe for boys to be apprenticed to a craftsman at the age of fourteen or thereabouts for a period of some six years (note 28), Horrix may have worked in one or more shops elsewhere after his apprenticeship and before his arrival in The Hague. However, no information about this period is available. On May 15 1764, Horrix was enrolled in the Hague guild as a master cabinet-maker (note 33). On January 9th of that year he had acquired citizenship, and on May 5th he had married Elisabeth de la Fosse of The Hague. The wedding was witnessed by


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