The Louis XV style evolved from the lightness of the Regence style but focused more on the movement of freedom in shapes.
“If Baroque was melodrama, Rococo was light comedy.”
(Philp Peter, Furniture of the World, 1974)
Imagination is the basis of this decorative style, in which rocks and shells, with flowers and foliage, provide the dominant theme.
Breaking away from the antique or classic styles, this period invented an ornamental repertoire that was completely innovative and original, the Rococo style.
It was based on very curved and sinuous lines, asymmetry being the guiding principle of this period. In interior decoration, colour, mirrors, large white ceilings decorated with a central rosette were popularly used.
Undoubtedly the greatest of all periods for French furniture, this was a period of extraordinary creativity, and was influenced by the royal mistresses: Madame de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, and a few others. Grand suites were replaced by smaller more intimate rooms, and were furnished with unfailing attentiveness to elegance, refinement, comfort and well being.
Furniture became practical and readily transportable without losing any of its elegance.
New items appeared: chiffoniers, writing desks with flaps, card tables and roll-top desks. Ladies’ furniture: dressing tables, chairs with short armrests, desks, escritoires was designed. Armchairs, chairs, setees and daybeds abound. Cabriolet and bergere armchairs are popularized. Dining tables, round or oval were always covered with a floor length tablecloth. Marquetry and lacquer tables were numerous, practical and beautiful.
In chair design, each member seems to flow or melt into one another without any feeling of separation. The molded chair frames are often
enhanced with rich floral, foliage and shell carvings. The most typical Louis XV chair is the bergère, a wide, low, and deep armchair.
Canapés (sofas) developed into a variety of types. One form, often called a marquise, is merely an enlarged armchair. The majority of canapés were made to accommodate three persons. In high fashion was the basket-shaped canapé, called canapé corbeille. The daybed was also given a variety of novel forms. Of these, the duchesse, distinguished by its gondola-shaped back, is most typical. In terms of beds, the lit à colonnes disappered. The shapes in high fashion were the lit à la duchess and the lit à la polonaise.
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Tables, which became simpler and lighter, have one characteristic in common, that is, cabriole legs. Medium-sized and small tables reveal all those brilliant and versatile qualities which marked the achievements of Parisian craftsmen of the golden age.
For the bedroom there were tables such as the vide-poche (pocket-emptier), the serre-bijoux (jewel-box tables) and chevets (bedside tables).
For the boudoirs and the salons, there were small tables à ouvrages or work tables, called tricoteuses or chiffonnières.
Materials and techniques
Most solid wood furniture was made of oak or walnut, but there were also examples made of cherry, ash, plum, chestnut and olive. Beech, lindenwood and walnut were used only in chairs and other seating. Painted wood was often used to foster harmony between furniture and paneling. Marble and porcelain tabletops were used.
Typical ornamentation included curved lines, exotic themes, flora and fauna combined with chinoiseries and femine faces, flowers, and forms suggestive of rocks and shells. Doves and dolphins were the animal motifs of choice.
Floral bouquets and garlands, isolated in bunches of three, surrounded by delicate greenery were common. It delighted in asymmetry.
Oriental themes invaded decoration: sultans, pashas, dervishes and monkeys moving gracefully through imaginary landscapes. Considerable bronze ornamentation was an essential part of some items. Flower marquetry was very fine.
The most outstanding painters of the period were:
- Juste-Aurèle Meissonier;
- François Boucher;
- Jean-Baptiste Huet;
- Jean-Baptiste Le Prince;
- Pierre Migeon, and the van Loo family: Jean-Baptiste van Loo, Louis Michel van Loo, Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo, and Charles André van Loo.
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Madame de Pompadour, the king’s mistress, was one of the chief patrons of the artists of the period.
info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Quinze
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