Let’s hear it for Louis XV!

05Feb11

Intrigued by French style? Then you’ve undoubtably heard of the various Louis styles but can you distinguish one from the other? That’s what our “Louis series” is here for! These styles, although traditional, are popping up in many contemporary installations and as they mix well, so even if you’d never dreamed of putting a Louis XV chair in your space, you may be surprised at how quickly it may grow on you. At the bare minimum, it’s always good to know where design developed from!

Julia Rothman’s fabulous Louis print available on her website

Louis XV inherited the crown at the age of 5… clearly a bit too young to rule a nation, a regency was put into place until he came of age. Once officially on the throne, the rule of Louis xv was a time of particularly lush developments in the sciences, arts & letter and especially decorative arts. Refinement, enjoyment and culture were the order of the day. A time of great salons, luxurious entertaining and a focus of experiencing fully the new art de vivre, furniture of the time reflected these values. Furniture from this period falls between the years of 1722-1774.

Along with the focus on salons, entertaining and living well, small furnishings rapidly came into greater popularity. Small tables for tea, letter writing and gaming as well as moveable carts, tables on wheels and sideboards became staples in houses and apartments that saw frequent social activity. Rococco furniture is associated with this period. Sinuous, rounded lines, lush almost excessive motifs inspired by the natural world and a certain nod to classical ornamentation are key elements.

Often gold leafed, chairs and tables had curved cabriole legs, were elaborately carved with flowers, fruits, shells and leaves.  Bronze detailing at corners and fronts made already highly ornamented furniture even more excessive, yet remained light and fluid. Ebenistes worked shallow carvings into furniture then inserted small (yet, ornate) bits of laquer, ivory or wood. Beech, walnut and cherry ruled for furniture frames and even even tableware was extravagant. A heavy emphasis on porcelain, silver and bronze, with ornamentation to the excess. Clearly under the reign of Louis XV, more was more.

Curved legs are key for Louis XV

As you can see on the chairs, there is slightly more emphasis on comfort. Wider, deeper seats with slightly reclined backs – perfect to rest a moment after a hard game or cards with the ladies or a heated discussion of a book in a popular salon.

And, a lovely modern interpretation… I love the purple Ikat and black laquer combo.

Questions or want more details? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email!

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