Régence style (1715-1723)

Régence style is a transitional design style born in France during the regency of Philippe II, between 1715 and 1723.

A room decorated in the Regency style. There is an ornate chandelier in the center, various gold-framed portraits, green floral furniture, a white fireplace and a medium-wood piano.
 Ickworth Park – Regency furniture

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/fc340028-9c51-401c-868d-60ad911ecba0 by Karen Roe

Régence Style Origins

Régence refers to the period of the 18th century France when the duke of Orléans ruled the country for his grandnephew Louis XV, who was only five when he inherited the throne. The Régence style was applied first to decorative arts and interior design. By the end of Louis XIV’s reign, rich Baroque changed, preferring lighter elements, with a taste for complex forms. It included oriental designs and asymmetric proportions.

Régence Furniture

Régence is best understood as a state of mind, a turn toward intimacy, hedonism, and pleasure. It is a transitional style that employed ornamentation for its elegance. The woodworking generally displayed plain lines and surfaces with slender legs and right angles. This helped highlight ornaments by providing a quite simple background to avoid distractions. Cabinets and shelving units used height to help decorate walls with paintings.

An example of Régence style in a red-walled room with various gold-framed portraits and a small wooden table in the center.
Example of Régence style –  Ickworth Park

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/1beaccf9-0414-4532-b8e6-89145cb86df4 by Karen Roe

Régence Furniture’s Materials

The components of Régence  furniture included wood and metal accents. Mahogany remained the most important material for furnishings, but ebony was featured in expensive pieces. Furniture makers primarily employed brass, bronze, or ormolu to imitate gold. Brass inlays were popular in this period. The most popular furniture in this style were commodes, bookcases, tables, table bureaus, drop-front secretaries, cupboards, center lights and lamps to be put on the walls

French Louis XV Régence style ormolu griffin coffee table.
French Louis XV Régence style ormolu griffin coffee table

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c60b6b84-83df-4195-8ae9-8177774f7b2d by AntiqueTaste

Régence style chair with dark wood legs and a basket-like seat and back.
Régence style caned fauteuil

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/224fa051-ba40-4e89-8d6b-2309c14fc5c6

The Importance of Ornament

Moldings were now in low relief. Smiling heads of fauns and women were often present and the lion’s head was no longer present. No more order and rigor were displayed. The decorators changed Louis XIV style ornaments to make all them  cheerful and happier.

French Régency style ormolu mounted commode in a medium wood with light colored metal accents.
French Régency style ormolu mounted parquetry commode by Maison Millet

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/1171b9cb-9a2d-48b3-9aa1-508b26f54c58 by AntiqueTaste

A close up of the commode with metal accents. A baby angel can be seen holding a bird in his left hand.
Detail of the French Regency style ormolu mounted parquetry commode by Maison Millet

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/f45b83a1-ad01-4743-bffb-98436c3f4630 by AntiqueTaste

The fireplace was an important feature of this style. Scrolls enhance its uprights and a hug crest houses a carved shell in the middle. Huygens invented the regulator in the late 17th century, which popularized the pendulum clocks that are on the bronzes of the Régence.

Custom-made Regence style marble fireplace mantel with gilded bronze ornaments.
Régence style marble fireplace mantel with gilded bronze ornaments

Image source: https://www.maison-et-maison.com/antique-mantel-stock/noailles-with-bronzes-sculptures-regence-style-fireplace-made-out-of-green-maharadja-marble-with-gilded-bronze-ornaments

Régence Art

Early Rococo style heavily influenced the Régence art style. Antoine Watteau, a French painter whose worked to revive the interest in color and movement, revitalized Baroque‘s language. He invented the genre of fêtes galantes: scenes of bucolic and idyllic charm, with an air of theatricality. Some of his most famous subjects were from the world of Italian comedy and ballet.

A painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau with a bright woman standing in the center, while various people surround her.
Fêtes Venitiennes by Antoine Watteau

Image source: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jean-Antoine_Watteau_-_F%C3%AAtes_Venitiennes_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

A women in a red and blue dress swings between two skinny trees while a man pushes her.
“The Swing” (1684−1721) by Antoine Watteau

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antoine_Watteau_(1684%E2%88%921721)-_The_Swing_-_Keinu_-_Gunga_(29358967782).jpg by Jean-Antoine Watteau, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Info source: https://www.britannica.com/art/Regence-style

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