The Collection

Joseph Gengenbach, genannt Canabas - Pair of Three-Shelf Dessert Tables

Joseph Gengenbach, called Canabas (1712 - 1797)

Pair of Three-Shelf Dessert Tables

Paris, Louis XVI period, ca. 1780

Stamped “J. CANABAS”
Mahogany carcase, mahogany veneer (acajou de Cuba)
H. 102 cm, W. 59 cm, D. 46.5 cm


Joseph Gengenbach, known as Canabas (1712–1797) specialized in “all-purpose,” multifunctional tables. His father was a well-known ébéniste in the Alsace region; the young Joseph probably spent his apprenticeship years in his father’s workshop before moving to Paris in the early seventeen-forties. Initially, he worked as a labourer on Rue de Charonne, becoming one of the favourite sub-contractors for ébénistes Jean-François Oeben, and Pierre Migeon. After achieving master status in 1766, he opened his own workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine neighbourhood. Canabas then began specialising in small, luxurious furniture made of mahogany veneer or solid mahogany, which were sometimes inspired from English designs. He very quickly acquired a steady clientele. All of the ébéniste’s skill is demonstrated in the craftsmanship of this pair of side tables. Each one has three oval platters linked by openwork lyre-shaped legs, in which Canabas designed an ingenious and practical system of removable platters and slides that shift to reveal compartments. This identical technique appears on three other known tables with similar designs. The first, on which the upper apron is decorated with a motif of gilt-bronze scrapers, is illustrated in Nicolay 1976, p. 88, figs. I and I’. The other two tables feature this same décor for a pair; they belonged to the collection of Dr. Alexandre Benchoufi (Sotheby’s sale, New York, November 9, 2006, lot 103).
Literature: Nicolay 1976
Nicolay, Jean. L’art et la manière des maîtres ébénistes français au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1976.

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