George Haupt (1741-1784), one of Swedens most gifted cabinet-makers, crafted fine furniture of ebony and other high-quality wood. One of his commodes can be found in the Royal Palace in Oslo.
He is considered to be instrumental in establishing the Gustavian style of furniture.
Court Cabinet-maker Georg Haupt
Haupt was raised in the artisan tradition, as both his father and grandfather were cabinet-makers at the Swedish Royal Court. He trained under cabinet-makers other than his own family members and acquired his most important artistic impulses from master craftsmen abroad. He was appointed the Court Cabinet-maker by the Swedish Royal Family in 1769 The Royal Collections in Stockholm contain about 30 pieces of furniture crafted by Georg Haupt and his workshop.
Exhibition at the Royal Palace of Stockholm
In 2006, a large exhibition of furniture opened at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. The pieces on display included writing tables, commodes, cabinets, worktables and beds. The exhibition was representative of Haupts entire body of work and reflected the experience he gained from leading studios in Amsterdam, Paris and London during a study trip through Europe in 1762-1769. The exhibition also highlighted Haupts significance for and influence on contemporary and later cabinet-makers in Sweden.
The Royal Palace in Oslo contains one piece of furniture from Haupts workshop. The commode is located in the Mirror Hall along with examples of gilded furniture from the time of Queen Maud. The commode was signed by Sara Haupt, widow of Georg Haupt, which clearly confirms that the piece was crafted in the period 1784-1788. In 1788, Sara Haupt remarried and the Haupt family business was closed. During the time of King Carl Johan, the commode was placed at Paléet, the kings residence at the time, in Christiania (as Oslo was then called). Today the commode is the oldest and most valuable piece in the Royal Palaces collection.
Georg Haupt was renowned in his own time and his work is still greatly admired. The furnitures special beauty derives from the overall composition, treatment of materials, and balance between streamlined forms and rich ornamentation. Neo-classical bronze mountings, medallions, flat-band borders and inlays in exclusive woods became Haupts trademark.
Today most of the pieces crafted at Haupts workshop are located in Swedish palaces or estates. The Swedish kings, first King Adolf Fredrik and later King Gustav III, commissioned most of Haupts work, but members of the nobility, middle class and diplomatic corps were also among his customers. Only occasionally was Haupts furniture exported abroad.
Despite the exclusive nature of his furniture, Haupts designs have also become part of the average Swedish home. In the mid-1950s, IKEA began producing copies of a commode crafted by Georg Haupt that belongs to the Nordiska museet (Nordic Museum). The illustrated catalogues published in 1963 called the piece Haupt N.M. The reproduction of the commode used rosewood and birch with inlays of Cuban mahogany, linden, limba, boxwood, maple and American walnut. The mountings were made of stained brass and the top slab of marble. The reproductions were signed with a brand by Evald Hermansson.
The master himself, Georg Haupt, signed most of his pieces, especially those crafted on commission from the Royal Family. Rather than using a stamp, he signed his name neatly in his own handwriting, adding his title ébébeniste du Roi, or Court Cabinet-maker.
Haupts most well-known pieces include a writing table crafted for Queen Lovisa Ulrika (1770, Drottningholm Palace) and a mineral cabinet made for the Duke of Condé (1774, Château de Chantilly).