Joseph Cremer (1811-1878) was born to Flemish parents in 1811. He was active from 1839 to 1878 in Paris and was one of the most celebrated marqueteurs of the mid-Nineteenth Century. Cremer was ranked amongst the top furniture manufacturers working in Paris at that time and supplied furniture to king Louis-Philippe of France and the King of Holland. Some of the finest examples of his work are included in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. He also worked in conjunction with André Lemoine who had a Royal Warrant from Napoléon III. He was a member of the Académie de l'Industrie and made his own original designs.
Cremer participated in numerous Paris exhibitions and received several awards, including the following Exposition Universelle prizes; 1839 a médaille d'honneur; 1844 a médaille de bronze; 1849 une médaille d'argent. Cremer also exhibited at the 1855 French Exposition Universelle where it was recorded that his submission was:
'Un meuble de salon en noyer et ébène, les battants de l'armoire couverts de branchages fruits et fleurs, groupés et mouveménts, les panneaux du bas ornés de deux têtes de chiens et de chèvres surtout de leur niche, et des meubles de Boulle, avec marqueterie obtenue par galvanoplastie. Il avait egalement execute la marqueterie d'un meuble exposé par Tahan. D'après le rapport du jury, comme ton, comme dessin, il est impossible d'atteindre dans un travail de marqueterie à plus d'harmonie et de justesse M. Cremer est un maître' [Cat. Exp. univ., 1855. - Rapport by H. Marie Martin.]
He also exhibited at the London Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862, where in 1851 he received a second class medal. In 1862 he exhibited a side cabinet, after the model by Reisener in the Royal Collection, employing a new process for the execution of 'Buhl inlayings,' using permanent dyes as introduced by M. Bouverie in 1855. The piece was greeted with considerable contemporary acclaim.
His specialty was various types of marquetry and, in particular Boulle work, to the extent that he sent made-up panels for other makers. As well as designing pieces in a modern idiom, his repertoire also included close reproductions of Louis XIV designs. Recent research in New York suggests that Cremer was almost certainly supplying marquetry to the New York makers, notably Gustav Herter, for incorporation into their own pieces.
Cremer peices are normally marked by a marque au fer 'Cremer Marqueteur' within a chamfered rectangle, or 'J. Cremer' incised in marquetry panels.
Denise Ledoux-Lebard, Les Ebénistes du XIX Siècle, p 137.
Jonathan Meyer: Great Exhibitions - London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia 1851 - 1900, Antique Collectors Club, Woodbridge 2006, p, 101, 126, 147.