Louis XV Style – (1723-1774)

Louis XV style is a kind of Rococò style, recognized by its superior craftsmanship.

Le Petit Trianon: A light tan-stoned building with large rectangular windows, four trees along the front a 5 sets of double doors along the ground.
Petit Trianon (1764)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/553441f0-a33d-4b2a-bb89-a61b8535ff41 by dalbera

Le salon de compagnie: A large room with red and white furniture and curtains. There are two large, arched, gold-framed mirrors, a golden chandelier in the center and a harp in the right corner.
Salon de Compagnie of the Petit Trianon (1765)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/b8c7056b-3b7b-4c55-af2e-eae865f0178e by dalbera

Louis XV Style Context

Louis XV style represented the French iteration of Rococo. Naturalistic floral motifs were a feature of the period. Women, gaining relevance in society, started influencing the lines of the Louis XV style. Louis XV reigned from 1715 to 1774, and his reign saw the decline of monarchy prestige and the beginning of the crisis that ended with the French Revolution. The style was characterized by unique craftsmanship, cabinetmaking, painting, and sculpture.

A portrait of Louis XV (1710-1774) with a white, curly wig.
Portrait of Louis XV (1710-1774)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/0ee637e6-9c3a-4dc3-bee9-8362aebf662e by Maurice Quentin de La Tour

The Most Important Louis XV Style Artists

The pioneers of this style produced exquisite Rococo decorations in homes owned by the richest French families. Some famous names connected with the best works in Louis XV Rococo style are François Boucher, Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, and J.Francoise Oeben. Further, Pierre Migeon was the favorite of Madame de Pompadour.

A portrait sketch of Madame de Pompadour in a green, flourished dress with a gold, vague background.
François Boucher, Sketch for a Portrait of Madame de Pompadour (1721 – 1764), c. 1750 at Waddesdon Manor

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/1097a7be-8f7b-4019-8a4f-adc4763a056b by François Boucher

A sideways, closeup of the white wall with gold accents in the Chamber of the Prince, in Hôtel de Soubise.
Chamber of the Prince, Hôtel de Soubise (1735–40)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c9726a15-8e9d-401f-b6bc-349d241c88b5 by Parsifall

Louis XV Style Characteristics

Louis XV furniture fuses usefulness with elegance. Chairs in this style often had the following features:

  • curved legs
  • floral decorations
  • comfortably padded seats and backs
  • deliberately asymmetrical

Most houses had at least two complete sets of furniture: one for summer and one for winter.

Armchair with medium-wood legs and arms and flower-patterned cushions.
French Rococo chairs with curved legs and floral decoration.

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/ee6d09d2-f04e-4527-950b-529ef5994391

Motifs

Fantasy was a key motif, as most surfaces were covered with strange animals and exotic landscapes. Rare woods were used for sumptuous effects, and particularly veined, colored marbles were also important. Moreover, shells and wave-like motifs could be found on antique furniture of the Rococo period. Foliage and seashells were also carved onto beds and mirror frames.

King's desk at Palace of Versailles: A medium-wood desk with four candles along the top and various flourishes throughout the piece.
King’s desk at Palace of Versailles (1760-1769)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/e7984114-2285-405b-a6cb-512f4e7f4b1b by Dan Lundberg

Louis XV Style chest: A red chest with gold accents.
Louis XV Style

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/27353ff9-d545-4313-a38a-b150ec5b0019 by Decor Concept

The Importance of Painting

The dominant subjects of painting in the Louis XV style were mythology and history related. Later, his tastes switched to pastoral scenes. Madame de Pompadour was one of the major patrons of the period, although the King’s favorite was François Boucher. As the king liked hunting, Boucher painted leopard and crocodile scenes for the Palace of Versailles. In 1767, he was named the First Painter of the King. Other notable painters included Jean Baptiste Oudry, whose hunting scenes decorated royal apartments in Versailles.

A painting of a naked man in a leopard skin. There is a dog along his right and he appears to be fishing.
by Jean Baptiste Oudry- Pecheur- 1739

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/b50a6f51-96ef-4e9d-88c9-2542fcd8513d by GuyStairSainty

Sculpture

The sculptural styles of the Grand Siécle continued to dominate under Louis XV. Madame de Pompadour was also a patroness in sculpture. The most important sculptors of the early period were the Coustous brothers, Robert Le Lorrain, and Edmé Bouchardon. Bouchardon designed the equestrian statue of Louis XV that followed the guidelines from the previous king.

A white statue of cupid making his bow. There appears to be an animal on his left that is suffering, while he has a club in his right hand.
Edmé Bouchardon, Cupid making his bow from the club of Hercules, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (1744)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c5862142-439c-48a5-9475-8f9c4ff4369c by dbking


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