Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Jean-Baptiste Sené

Photo: Nathaniel Willson

Jean-Baptiste Sené

French, 1748 - 1803

Jean-Baptiste Sené was born in 1748. Both his father and grandfather had worked as cabinetmakers and both Jean-Baptiste and his brother, Claude, followed in their footsteps. By the age of twenty-one, Sené had become a master menuisier, or woodworker. In 1769, Sené established a workshop near his father's shop on the rue de Cléry in Paris.

Sené's fame as a furniture maker grew steadily in the late eighteenth century, culminating in his appointment as a royal cabinetmaker in 1784. As part of the network of artisans that created royal furniture, Sené was tasked with crafting the "heavy woods" (hardwoods, like beechwood, walnut) and the assemblage of furniture pieces, while specialized carvers created ornamentation.

In the last years of France's monarchy, Sené became one of the regular suppliers of furniture for royal residences, decorating Marie-Antoinette's bedroom at Fontainebleau and cabinet de toilette at Saint-Cloud. One of Sené's final royal commissions was to create the throne on which Louis XVI would sit at the meeting of the Estates-General in 1789.

After the dissolution of the monarchy and the creation of the French Republic in 1792, Sené continued to find work, despite his monarchist past. He worked as an administrator for the Republican government and received government commissions for utilitarian objects, like desks. Sené continued to work until his death in 1803.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM