Know Your French Antique Furniture ~ Part 2

Antique Book Letteringhe end of 17th century and throughout the 18th century was a dynamic period in design for antique French furniture. We are covering this period in our second part of this historic series. What started out as an extravagant Baroque style in Italy spread throughout the courts of Europe and is exemplified by the work of Bernini in Italy and by the palace of Versailles. This highly ornate Louis XIV style was followed by a still lavish Rococo period. Romantic and sensual Louis XV style was later abandoned and Classicism sprang forth.  Following this general overview we will continue by examining each style in more detail, exploring its traits and historical significance.

Antique French Provincial Library Vignette

Louis XIV StyleOften called Baroque, this movement was a reflection of the so-called French Sun King, who was the personification of luxury and grandeur.  Establishing a trend where furniture reflected the taste of the ruler, the style was almost exclusively produced for the royal court of Versailles.  One of the results was entrenched aristocracy emulating the style in an attempt to outdo one another.  The Louis XIV style is categorized by integrating marquetry, heavy bronze mounts, and a grand scale, becoming the perfect marriage of Renaissance and Baroque, ultimately leading to the emergence of Regence lines.

Antique French Louis XIV Walnut Fauteuil

Regence & Louis XV Style
Emerging from the shadow of the reign of Louis XIV in the early 1700s, both rectangular and heavy characteristics of Baroque transitioned to lighter designs, expressed in the elegant curves of the rococo movement, where cabriole and bombe forms were born. This early Rococo era of French art is known today as Regence style, in deference to the Duc D’Orleans who acted as Regent while Louis XIV’s grandson, Louis XV, came of age.  Gradually the style of Louis XV that evolved was considered more graceful and feminine than that of preceding periods.  The Louis XV style is perhaps one of the most copied French styles, and is the style most often identified as uniquely French.  Both the Regence and Louis XV styles were the first to spread to the French countryside and give birth to the unrivaled charm of Country French furniture.

Antique French Louis XV Walnut Grand Buffet a Deux Corps

Antique French Regence Painted Marble Top Center Table

Louis XVI Style
This classical style was a reflection of the discoveries of Herculaneum and Pompeii, stimulating the French court’s interest in Greek and Roman art forms.  It was a conspicuous departure from the sensuous lines of preceding styles, an example being that the cabriole leg was replaced with the leg of straight, fluted lines reminiscent of Greek columns.  It was an era devoted to elegance and classicism ending abruptly with the French Revolution.

Antique French Louis XVI Mahogany & Marquetry Bedroom Suite

I end this edition of my multi-part essay with that same French Revolutionary era, which gave birth to many striking styles during the course of the century following the end of the reign of the Bourbon kings.  The Revolution marked a radical change not just in politics but also the interior fashions of the country.  In future writings we will explore this impactful era in French history that ironically was called “Modern” at the time!

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  1. Theresa Davis's Gravatar Theresa Davis
    February 4, 2015    

    Beautiful furniture…. Do you ship to Augusta Georgia?

    • February 5, 2015    

      Good afternoon Theresa! We work with third-party shippers to deliver our items around the world. We can definitely help you out in Georgia. You’re welcome to visit our website- – and inquire about any specific items you see there via email or call us toll free at either showroom- Dallas: 888-326-2390 Baton Rouge: 866-629-0905
      Thank you so much for asking, and please let us know if we can help you with any other questions.

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 Inessa Stewart

Antiques in Style is a source of joy for me to create, and hopefully will be a source of inspiration for you! The variety, artistry and history of the antiques and vintage pieces that surround us every day provide pleasure, beauty and sometimes even intrigue.

The classics never go out of style, and each era, country, and even artisan's interpretations create an environment that is always full of surprises.

It is truly a pleasure to bring such timeless style together for every client and follower of my blog. And of course, your input is always welcome!

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