Since ancient times, the furniture world in France has experienced many styles that have marked their era and have remained famous in time. Year after year and generations after generations, furniture models have succeeded each other, but not all have had the same reputations. One of the most prestigious styles of this furniture is the Louis XVI style.
The latter exists in a multitude of shapes and models. Examples include armchairs, seats, dressers, beds, tables and bars. A whole set of furniture and furniture that can be used in an office as well as in a house. This article will allow you to learn more about the Louis XVI style.
What is the Louis XVI style?
First employed in France, in the second half of the 17th century, the Louis XVI style was part of a European wave that spread like wildfire, taking with it any other style in vogue at that time.
The particularity of this style, in terms of furnishings and decoration, marked, at the end of the 18th century, the return of classicism. It all began in 1774, during the reign of King Louis XVI. It was a revelation of style at a pivotal time when the whole of France was going through a period of transition. Having succeeded the Louis XV style, the stylistic furnishings lasted until the eve of the French Revolution in 1785.
During his epic, the Louis XVI style brought about antiquity through its various themes that provided an update of the great vestiges of the beginning of the century. He was greatly influenced by the classicism of the ancient style. This is evidenced by its cabinetry rooted in the oldest civilizations in Europe and elsewhere. Greco-Roman elements, such as: the column, the pediment, the harmonious proportions and the portico are thus incorporated into the style of these Louis XVI furniture and furniture transition style.
The shape of the furniture style of the late 18th century is almost in opposition to that of the beginning of the century. Indeed, this creation adopts a completely different line from that of its predecessor, the Louis XV style.
Its entire structure detaches itself from the rocky form and adopts a more rigorous inspiration of the geometric shape that becomes more symmetrical. It also highlights a new imprint of the famous siege of kings and other noble people around neoclassicism.
Its ornament, décor and back file represent a perfect copy of the creation of Louis Delanois in 1769. This piece of furniture is still the successor to the Louis XV style not only by name, but also by the keyword that is and price. The absence of certain characteristics of this style and the important changes observed are significant elements of the new era that the Louis XVI style wants to bring.
Louis XVI Furniture
The era of King Louis XVI was marked by a particular style of very refined furniture. Prestigious models made from original materials and ancestral know-how. Furniture of this style is handmade which incorporates many materials, all chosen for their efficiency in the furniture style where they are used.
For example, the secretary's or tablet carcasses are made with carpentry wood either in beech or walnut. For an ever larger frame, fir and oak wood was chosen for the dresser. Its veneer and division are, in part, made of mahogany, amaranth or violet wood, highly known for their strength and durability.
For an even more perfect finish, we used, as always, the gum-lacquer and the French varnishing. As for the handle of the cabinets, it is wrought in iron for a better branding of style.
Some of the furniture, created at that time, had the shape of a small cabinet whose wooden valve is replaced by shop windows. In decoration of the belt of these furniture are steel plates. A copper and bronze ornamentation completes all this architecture.
To allow several uses, the Louis XVI style table is designed in a variety of dimensions. The most popular, among others, are: the table, which can serve as a game table and the tablet or secretary, more convenient for the office. The secretary, which is usually rectangular in shape, is equipped with a zipper that can be used as a writing board.
There is also the tablet or cylindrical desk which is similar to another, more famous of the early 17th century with a cabinet like a gallery. The table is specially intended to serve as a space for playing the hot water bottle, which was very popular at the time. It is circular, with a drawer belt all around and rests on four feet adorned with copper or bronze and in a valve.
This type of table is often designed with a removable top, marble forming a perfect tray for the purpose for which it is intended.
The Louis XVI style is the highlight of two (02) kinds of beds. This is the French type and the Polish type. The French bed style owes its name to the unique bedside it has, which is topped by a canopy of the same dimensions as the bed frame.
As for the Polish bed, it has one and sometimes two bedsides more than that of the French type. Its canopy, is often smaller than its shawl but has a more imperial shape than the latter. This Polish bed has a circle-shaped canopy that supports two curtains that join at the foot of a metal column.
The latter is an extension of the curved stems that support the canopy placed in alcove. Hence the name of alcove bed attributed to it. It was a very popular bed under King Louis XVI and especially in the apartments of the Duchess at the time.
Louis XVI dressers painted and in marquetry
The painted Louis XVI dressers generally have flat rectangular facades. Their upper surface, grey in colour, set in bronze, is designed in marble like the pedestal.
These are very large dressers in their size and have been made in two models including the dresser with two drawers, high feet and the three drawer dresser, with low feet. These drawers are often placed high or on the protruding façade.
Their footings often balustre, top or inspired by the crowbar extends into the belt or studs.
The Louis XVI dressers in marquetry are of Dolphin and Alsatian origins that are land of cabinetry. This type of dresser has remained much more faithful to the style and aesthetics advocated by 17th century furniture than the one painted.
Composed of wooden structure of fruit trees, the dresser could have up to five drawers and was more decorative, as it was decorated with flowers and rinsings. Their handles have the simplified look of a ring.
Elegance, luxury and comfort are the main features of Louis XVI-style armchairs. Work of manual work, applied and careful craftsmen, the chair, the sofa and the 18th century seat diffuse an ancient style through the straight and geometric line of their plane and back.
These armchairs, which symbolize an absolutely refined taste, are cut from mahogany wood and sublimated with a layer of light, drowned, waxed, lace-up or gold beech. Creating a transitional era, Louis XVI-style armchairs exist in many models: the old armchairs, the re-stylized chair with a "convertible back" and the shepherdess chair.
Some of these chairs are equipped with a backrest that can be tilted when acting on a crank. These are ideal armchair models for those who need to stretch often to relieve their back pain or to recover from temporary fatigue.
Other models are designed to allow seating for more than one person at a time (up to four people): these are two-, three- or four-seat sofas. They all retain the characteristic and antique appearance of the original models, especially with the presence of an armrest and the concave plan in the shape of a gendarme's hat.
This style of furniture has also been able to make a seat without a back and chair.
The old armchairs
The oldest models of the Louis XVI style chair are recognizable by the straight and geometric seating lines. There are also dice used to connect the corners of the seat to make it even more classic.
Mahogany wood is the fundamental material. The latter can be worked in the marquetry or, more often than not, painted in light color, drowned, beech waxed, laceed or gilded, like the wood of the previous styles (Louis XIV and XV).
These old armchairs include some with a re-stylized "convertible back. The ornamental elements are also minimalistic. Their symmetrical shape draws its inspiration from the plant nature and themes of antiquity. There are several classic elements such as: the knotted ribbon knot, the sheet and the reinforcement gilding at the weak points of the chair.
The shepherdess Louis XVI
The shepherdess, is the flagship armchair, the most popular creation of the style of Louis XVI. Almost all armchair models of this style have been inspired by this. This makes it a multitude of chairs of this kind.
The most popular models are: the shepherdess with a high back in gilded wood with a seat and back of a cane and quality Genoa velvet cushions, draped in garland in the upper part sculpture decorations; the painted and carved wooden shepherdess, covered with silk; the shepherdess in beech moulded with fluted and roughed foot.
The presence of a folder in an oval or bent hat is an element that fascinates some models of the shepherdess of the Louis XVI style. We can also mention chairs with "right plane folder," "medallion folder" or "hot air balloon folder."
All of these models have armrests that give them more comfort and make the shepherdess more popular. The feet, be they at the back or the front, are carefully installed in the shape of a concave downward curve.
The Louis XVI chair redesigned
The influence of modernization on antique furniture also had an impact on the Louis XVI-style armchair. This is reflected in the changes in the shape, ornamentation and decoration of the Louis XVI armchair models that came out in the 19th century.
Thus, we have seen the appearance of Louis XVI chairs for different social classes. Some of these chairs have been denatured to allow the price to be more accessible to middle-income people. There have even been style adaptations to the sex of the person who wants to buy it.
On the other hand, other Louis XVI-style armchairs have lost none of their originality despite the restoration work they have undergone. This restoration was not about their frame but rather about the ornamentation and varnishing.