Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Louis, Louis, Louis

Thought I might share a couple of words and examples to highlight the differences of the fabulous French periods known as Louis XIV, XV, and XVI.

Though it was originally brought to France by Catherine de Medici, the Italian bride of King Henri II, it was Louis XIV (reign 1643-1715), the Sun King, that made the Baroque style blossom into the first of the great court styles, with the Palace of Versailles being the greatest example. Exemplified by magnificence, majesty, monumental scale, gilding and over-the-top opulence. The colors were lush and saturated, the textiles richly patterned and sumptuous. This period was the first true expression of French decorative style.
Carved and gilded Center Table, offered by East & Orient Company through 1stdibs.com

Exposed wood Arm Chair by Taylor King.

The young Louis XV (reign 1715-1774) moved the court from Versailles to Paris, and the Rococo period began with a flourish of curves, cabrioles and a more intimate scale. As Baroque was a style of the court, Rococo belonged to the nobility, and the royal mistress, Madame Pompadour, was the gracious and elegant leading lady. Charm, luxury, the naturalistic motifs of shells, fish and foliage, and a more restrained color palette of warm pastels marked this period. The textiles were luxurious, but light.
Louis XV Sofa by Louis J. Solomon

Rosewood Writing Desk with brass ormolus and leather top by David Michael

Marking a return to classic traditions and styles, Neoclassicism coincided with the reign of Louis XVI (1774-1793) and his queen, Marie Antoinette. Gracious elegance, symmetry, straight lines, classical motifs and generous scale were the hallmarks. Case pieces saw intricate marquetry and reeded or fluted legs. The colors were a livelier version of the ice-cream palette of the Rococo, with beautiful silks, damasks and velvets providing lush formality.
Parcel Gilt Dining Table by DessinFournir

Celine Medallion Back Chair by French Heritage

There is really nothing quite like French style, no matter what century!

1 comment:

  1. This article highlights and explains each period nicely. Thank you for the well written comparison/contrast article. It's nice to have it explained so well. Especially to a novice like me.