Louis XVI Style – Louis Seize (1774-1793)

Louis XVI Style was born in France during the reign of the same name. This style is the last phase of Rococò and the first phase of Neoclassicism at the same time.

Salon de Compagnie - Petit Trianon
Model of a Louis XVI style- The Salon de Compagnie of the Petit Trianon (1762-1768)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/bb73a88a-cf27-4df9-9d45-3bd30c49e81c by Jorge Lascar

Who Was Louis XVI?

Louis was king during the French Revolution and was guillotined in 1793. Louis was born at Versailles, he was married to Marie Antoinette, daughter of the emperor and empress of Austria. This celebration was made to consolidate the alliance between France and Austria. In 1774, Louis succeeded his grandfather Louis XV in becoming the king of France.


Joseph-Silfred Duplessis, Portrait de Louis XVI
Joseph-Silfred Duplessis, Portrait de Louis XVI

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/938d5777-8227-43ba-9407-730f43c4bcc5 by benjamin.esteves

When and Why this Style Spreaded?

The Louis XVI decorative style spread mainly as a reaction to the concepts of Rococò. The eighteenth century and Louis XVI’s design has been influenced most of the time by the discovery of several important relics in the Herculaneum and Pompeii. The Louis XVI style was born with the accession to the throne of Louis XV’s grandson. It dies with Ancien Régime fall.

french antique Louis XVI style furniture
rench antique Louis XVI style furniture

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/32a2d718-e545-4935-bca6-e7d8597f9ced by frenchfinds.co.uk

Louis-XVI-style-gilt-ormolu-mounted-commode-after-the-model-by-Jean-Francois-Leleu-By-Francois-Linke-Paris-circa-1900 (1)
Louis XVI-style-gilt-ormolu-mounted-commode-after-the-model-by-Jean-Francois-Leleu-By-Francois-Linke-Paris-circa 1900

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/66fd9fe6-2bad-4ec6-9120-b831087f92c5 by AntiqueTaste

The Main Artists of This Period

Louis XVI was not so interested in arts in general, while Marie-Antoinette was a good customer for “marchands merciers”, a type of French business owner. She has played an important role in the diffusion of this style. These dealers sold furniture and decorative objects to the rich, exerting a strong influence on their design. Jean-Henri Riesener and Bernard van Risenburgh were two of the foremost cabinetmakers  The most important sculptor of the reign of Louis XVI was Jean-Antoine Houdon.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, Botanical Gardens, 2011
Diana , by Houdon, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, Botanical Gardens, 2011

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/e720e8d2-db8c-4720-9bea-cbe0fb4af63a by nathanh100

Characteristic of Louis XVI Style

The Louis XVI furniture was different from Louis XV’s style rigor. Ornamentation was also minimalist, symmetrical and vegetable and antique themes were an important inspiration. Proportions and volumes were equilibrated, simplicity of forms was back. Mahogany was the wood used, appreciated for its solid color and for the uniqueness of veins. Pastel colors were used as the king’s favorite.

Le salon de la Princesse (Hôtel de Soubise, Paris)
Hôtel de Soubise, Paris, France: boudoir of Madame de Serilly Symmetrical, restrained motifs based on the antique designs characteristic of the early Neoclassical Louis XVI style.

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/56898662-9564-42ab-8a2d-cdfb644dded1 by dalbera

Le petit cabinet (Hôtel de Soubise, Paris)
(Hôtel de Soubise, Paris)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/7749277b-cfa4-426e-81c7-20a42c58e0bb by dalbera


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