Régence style is a transitional style in architecture and decoration originated in France during the regency of Philippe II, duc d’Orléans, between 1715 and 1723.
In the early eighteenth century, a transition occurs between the Louis XIV style still rigid and exuberant style Louis XV. The gradual transition from the straight line to the curve is found in the feet and front of the dresser, in the decor of the chair or armchair.
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Rococo developed first in the decorative arts and interior design. Louis XIV’s succession brought a change in the court artists and general artistic fashion. By the end of the old king’s reign, rich Baroque designs were giving way to lighter elements with more curves and natural patterns.
It still maintained the Baroque taste for complex forms and intricate patterns, but by this point, it had begun to integrate a variety of diverse characteristics, including a taste for Oriental designs and asymmetric compositions.
Regence is best understood not as a style, but as a state of mind. It marked a turn toward intimacy, comfort, distraction and pleasure.
It is a transitional style that resulted in greater comfort, and forms more elegant and agreeable to the eye.
Lines had a new fluidity whilst retaining their symmetry. Charles Cressent, the master cabinetmaker, was to the Regence period what Boulle had been under Louis XIV.
Market value of Regencye furniture
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The commode is popularized. Bookcases with meshed doors, cane chairs with curved “sabot de biche” legs. Tables, Duchess chaises longues, consoles, smaller sized tables, table bureaus (flat-top writing table), drop–front secretaries, cupboards, center lights and wall lamps were numerous.
A good Regence furniture is recognizable by the homogeneity of its elements for its balance and the strength ornamental designs carved or gilded bronze.
Materials and techniques
Oak was used for the finest pieces, pine and poplar for more ordinary ones. Most seating was made of beech, walnut and fruitwoods. Wood veneer, wood marquetry and bronze fittings were popular.
Veneers of precious wood with geometric design, together with much gilt bronze decoration was seen. Carvings, especially of stylized palm leafs, sunflowers, pomegranates, with trellis background and honeycomb designs were common.
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Moldings, thinner and less assertive than under Louis XIV, are in low relief. Smiling heads of fauns and women were often used and the lion’s head disappeared. Scallop shells were very characteristic. Bat wings and animals, such as the monkey were seen. Motifs of exotic origin, such as pagodas, peacock feathers, parsols and exotic flowers were judiciously used.
No more warriors patterns and interpretations of classical antiquity which symbolized order and rigor. The decorators change the Louis XIV style ornaments to make them more cheerful and happier with masks, friendly wildlife and smiling female heads, called espagnolettes, sometimes topped with a tiara in palm leaf.
Other Regency Furniture
Fireplace screen regency is hung with tapestry. Scrolls enhance its uprights and a hug crest hosts a carved shell in the center. The invention of the regulator by Huygens in the late seventeenth century gave rise to the pendulum clocks that adorn beautiful symmetrical gilded bronzes of the Regence.
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The style of the Régence is marked by early Rococo, characterised by the paintings of Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), whose pictures were painted on the panelled salon walls to harmonize with the gentle spirit of the period, are among the important names connected with the new delicacy. He is inspired by the rustic themes or love represented by the quiver, the dove, the knot, shells or coral.
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