Jan Adolf Hillebrand II (1818-1887)
A native of Leeuwarden, Jan Adolf Hillebrand designed and made furniture. He was taught by his father, who ran a thriving furniture business, and he began his career at his father’s workshop. While not many wealthy patrons in the Netherlands were interested in stylistic innovation in the second half of the 19th century, a series of industrial exhibitions provided opportunities. These exhibitions had been initiated started in 1808 by the Dutch king, Louis Bonaparte, to enable artists to present their work and acquire a reputation. Without the constraints of a specific commission, artists were able to produce work that transcended conservative tastes. In 1844, the young Hillebrand made the perfect example of an exhibition piece: a fabulous silver cabinet in an unusual, complex form. Willem I bought the cabinet, thereby immediately establishing Hillebrand’s name. Hillebrand continued to submit pieces to industrial exhibitions throughout his career.