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Haupt, Georg (1741–1784)

Haupt, Georg

London; cabinet maker (b. 1741–d.1784)

Georg Haupt was born in Stockholm on 10 August 1741. His father, Elias Haupt, was a master cabinet maker whose position in the Cabinet-Makers’ Guild appears to have entitled his son to preferential treatment. Georg was apprenticed at thirteen (some nine months before he was eligible) to a Swedish cabinet maker, Johan Conrad Eckstein. His apprenticeship lasted for only five years (1754–59) after which he was given temporary work with Eckstein's uncle, Friedrich Eckstein, Master of the Cabinet-Makers’ Guild.

His career, in so far as his work in London is concerned, were those he spent as a journeyman. His first visit was to Germany in 1760. Then, together with his future brother-in-law, Christopher Fuhrlohg, he set off in 1762 to Amsterdam, moving on in 1764 to Paris. It is not known for whom the two men worked in Amsterdam, but evidence suggests that they were employed in Paris in the workshop of Simon Oeben, brother of Jean-François. The basis for this suggestion is the existence of a bureau plat, signed by Haupt. The inscription on the piece in red chalk reads: ‘Georg Haupt Suedois a fait cet bureau a Chanteloup 1767.’ The desk bears the inventory mark of the Château de Chanteloup, country seat of the Duc de Choiseul, Simon Oeben's foremost patron. It is of solid mahogany and an early example of Neo-classical style. A writing desk and filing cabinet also bears the inventory marks of the Château de Chanteloup.

These pieces, decorated with marquetry in a geometrical design, have been attributed to Simon Oeben. Svend Eriksen has expressed the view, however, that their quality is not such as to justify an attribution to the French master and that they may, more probably, have been made by the young journeyman, Georg Haupt, while he was working at Chateloup in 1766–67. A study of the signed bureau plat and the writing desk and filing cabinet throws light on the experience of the newly emerging Neo-classical style that Haupt had gained in Paris. Meanwhile, in the Summer of 1766, Haupt's nephew, the painter Elias Martin, had arrived in Paris to join his two compatriots. Christopher Fuhrlohg was the first to move on to London. Elias Martin and Haupt followed either at the end of 1767 or early in 1768. It may have been in Paris or after their arrival in London that Martin painted a portrait of his uncle, now in the possession of the Nodiska Museet, Stockholm. It shows the young man, in lace cravat and blue silk waistcoat, seated casually at a carved and gilt table with an open book and a pair of compasses in his hands.

There were two points of contact of which Haupt made use on his arrival in London. The first was the Swedish Church where the cabinet maker received communion, according to the church records, on 7 February 1768. The second was the architect, William Chambers, who was born in Sweden and is known to have kept closely in touch with Swedish immigrants and visitors to England. He was also on good terms with the Swedish Court and subsequently, in 1772, was awarded a Knighthood in the Order of the Polar Star. Haupt's relationship with Chambers is documented by a piece of furniture now in the V&A, London. 

Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Victoria and Albert Museum

Table made of satinwood and inlaid with ebony, the top inlaid with specimen marbles. Designed by William Chambers and made by Georg Haupt. Inscribed beneath in ink: ‘Cette table a été Commandé et Dessiné par Mr. Chambers Premier Architect de Sa Majesté Britannique et executé par son très humble Serviteur Georg Haupt Suedois, Londres le 4 Fevrier 1769' [W.38:1 to 3-1977]. Purchased with the assistance of the Brigadier Clark Fund through Art Fund. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Another table at Petworth is also signed by Haupt: ‘Georg Haupt Suedois a fait cette tabelle a Londre 1769’ (illus. Cator, Furniture History (1993), figs 1-5). This table is remade from a late 17th century floral marquetry table and is en suite with a pair of stands and a mirror, all presumably modified or restored by Haupt.

Haupt may have set up his own workshop in London but there is no evidence to support this view. There is, however, evidence that Christopher Fuhrlohg was employed for a limited period by John Linnell at his Berkeley Square workshop until he eventually set up on his own at 24 Tottenham Court Road. There are grounds for suggesting that Haupt may have joined his friend in working for John Linnell for the short time which he spent in England. Fuhrlohg's connection with John Linnell is established elsewhere. This connection very probably originated through William Chambers, since Chambers and the Linnell firm had both been employed by the Child family at Osterley Park, Middlesex. When Fuhrlohg, and then Haupt, arrived in England, John Linnell was engaged upon furnishing the Library at Osterley Park. Of the pieces provided and still in the Library, the two bureaux plats are essentially French in character. The large pedestal desk is richly inlaid with laurel wreaths, heavy oak-leaf swags and urns with stiff, angular handles. All these motifs can be paralleled in Haupt's work executed in Sweden after his return to his own country. They were certainly not then part of the repertoire of marquetry ornament used by John Linnell. One further piece supplied to Osterley at the same time is even more relevant in pointing to Haupt's authorship: the fall-front medal cabinet made for Robert Child and still in the possession of Lord Jersey, descendant of the family. This is inlaid with motifs such as diaper patterns, medallions with heavy swags looped and suspended into heart-shaped surrounds and urns set on pedestals with high, angular handles. These features occur in Haupt's work and, in particular, on a writing-table and filing cabinet made by Haupt for the King of Sweden in 1770.

There are hardly such telling parallels between the Osterley pieces and the known pieces made subsequently by Fuhrlohg in England although both Swedish cabinet maker may have been involved. Their shared experiences came to an end when Haupt was informed by the Swedish envoy, Gustav Adam von Nolcken on 1 August 1769 of his appointment in Sweden as Ebeniste du Roi. His work in England must have been outstanding to warrant such an appointment. The Osterley pieces are certainly of the highest quality and if, indeed, they were his work, they would surely have demonstrated his skill.

Sources: DEFM; M. Lagerquist et M. Jarry, ‘Note sur une table d’ébéniste Georg Haupt découverte en France’, Revue de l'Art Français, 1953, pp. 239–40; G. de Bellaigue, ‘English Marquetry's debt to France’, C. Life, 13 June 1968; J. Hayward, ‘Christopher Fürlohg, an Anglo-Swedish Cabinet-Maker’, Burlington, CXI, 1969, 648–55; J. Harris, Sir William Chambers, Knight of the Polar Star, London, 1970; C. Streeter, ‘Marquetry furniture by a brilliant London Master’, Met. Museum Bulletin, June 1971, pt 1, pp. 418–29; J. Hayward, ‘A newly discovered commode signed by Christopher Fürlohg’, Burlington, CXIV, 1972, 704–12; E. Andrén, Snickare Schatullmakare och Ebenister i Stockholm, Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, 1973; S. Eriksen, Early Neo-Classicism in France, London, 1974; J. Hayward, ‘A further note on Christopher Fürlohg’, Burlington, CXIX, 1977, 486–93; H. Lagerquist, Georg Haupt Ebéniste du Roi, Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, 1979; H. Hayward and P. Kirkham, William and John Linnell, 1980; Cator, ‘Haupt at Petworth, Furniture History (1993); Wood, ‘Georg Haupt and his Compatriots in London’, Furniture History (2014).

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.