Makers & Retailers - François Linke

François Linke

François Linke (1855–1946) was a one of the most important and influential Parisian cabinet makers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Linke was born on the 17th June 1855 in the small Bohemian village of Deutsch Pankraz (which today is known as Jítrava) in the Czech Republic. Initially Linke apprenticed to a master cabinet maker named Neumann before venturing out on his own. Link travelled through Prague, Budapest and Weimar before finally arriving in Paris in 1875 and it is documented that he was present in Vienna from July 1872 to October 1873 at the time of the International Exhibition held there in 1873.

It is believed that before setting up his own independent workshop in Paris, François Linke took a role with a German cabinet maker which from similarities in design and geographical location was believed to have been renowned cabinetmaker Emmanuel Zwiener. By 1881 Linke had set up his own independent workshop at 170 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Paris later expanding to 26 Place Vendôme, Paris known arguably as the capital’s most fashionable address. Initially it has been documented that newly established Linke workshops supplied furniture for other more known makers such as Jansen and Krieger. It was during the last quarter of the 19th century that François Linke really started to become known as the master of cabinetmaking his is regarded as today.

By this point two World fairs had taken place during Linke’s time in Paris, but it wasn’t until 1900 when he debut his ‘Grand Bureau’ when he won his first Gold Medal for the centre piece of his exhibition. Linke cleverly introduced a modern approach adding a contemporary style to documented Louis XV and Louis XVI pieces which suited the smaller Parisian apartments of the time and added modern flair and discovery. This newly developed furniture was in partnership with Léon Messagé a Parisian sculptor, it outshone the partners rivals who made the original style a mainstay for their own businesses. Linke was working on a make or break exhibition for the 1900 world fair leading documentation to believe that he would have gone bankrupt had it not have been a resounding success. Linke’s notebook records visitors to his stand from England, Europe, the Americas, Egypt and Japan. These visits included extremely high profile people such as the King of Sweden, three visits from the King of Belgium, Prince Radziwill, the Prince d’Arenberg, the Comte Alberic du Chastel, Miss Anna May Gould, the American heiress, other distinguished and highly regarded furniture makers and the President of France at the time, Emile Loubet. This risky endeavour was a resounding success, and with his reputation established, La Maison Linke became the pre-eminent furniture house until the outset of the Second World War.

From the success of the 1900 world fair Linke embarked in many important commissions leading up to the years of the outbreak of the First World War. Linke made and designed furniture for leading international industrialists and bankers.
Interestingly it wasn’t until after the First World War that Linke achieved arguably his biggest accolade, the extraordinary commission to furnish the Ras El Tin Palace in Alexandria for King Fuad of Egypt. This was arguably the biggest single commission in history overtaken that undertaken in Versailles, France. Francois Linke flourished and remained active until the middle years of the 1930s Art Deco period passing away just after the end of the Second World War in 1946.

François Linke furniture is often identified by his elaborate use of scrolling ormolu mounts and decoration often used in his better pieces across the entire piece of furniture including the glazed panels. Signed often within the lock plate, behind the ormolu mounts and across the scrolling ormolu in view his furniture is very distinguishable due to his high quality finish and style of mounts.