The Louis XIII style affected French Art and Architecture, especially the visual and decorative arts in the years 1610 to 1643 .
Its distinctness as a period in the history of French art has much to do with the regency under which Louis XIII began his reign. His mother and regent, Marie de’ Medici, imported mannerism from her homeland of Italy. As a consequence, the influence of Italian art was very strong for several decades.
In the early 17th century French furniture moved in a new artistic direction, when Cardinal Richelieu was prime minister and Simon Vouet a leader in the art world. Life in France became more luxurious and the demand for fine home furnishings more widespread.
The Louis XIII furniture was characterized by dark tones. The marquetry consisted of metal, wood and tortoise-shell. The ornaments included the round, inflated cartouche, with a convex curve, massive balusters, twisted columns, or garlands of fruits like apples and pears, with few leaves.
During the period of Louis XIII, security and wealth were so important in everyday life, opening the floodgates for new furniture, new styles, and a new life at home.
During the French Renaissance, the bedroom, dining room and great hall were a single entity, but comfort and social lives beacame the first necessity (sofas and settees vehicles for the new etiquette).
Suites of furniture were designed for one reason: people could facilitate “polite conversation”, so there was place for gossip and discussion.
This idea of creating unified suites of furniture was a completely French innovation, but caught on during the end of the Elizabethan era in England.
Louis XIII furniture is characterized by:
- rectilinear, simple and severe form;
- upholstered seat;
- back panel secured to the frame with decorative gilt or silvered nails, which the French engraver Abraham Bosse, 1602-72, so often represented in his charming engravings of domestic French interiors.
Damasks, damascenes, fancy velvets, cloths of gold, taffetas, silk, wool, cotton and other fiber mixtures, poplins, brocatelles, dimities, fustians, filatrices and feradines, as well as fabrics of low price were made, and Italy soon was pushed into the background. The discovery of the passage around the Cape of Good Hope (1579) allowed for new trade in silks from the eastern part of Asia.
Fabric designs were of the Renaissance types, including griffins, birds, vases, bouquets, garlands, branches of leaves and fruits, masks, serpentine meanderings, and hounds, oriental motifs, flowers, sprays, spots and curly-cues. Typical of the Louis XIII is the Arabian style, a survival of the Arabian popular under Francis I, sometimes called Moresque or Arabesque.
As early as 1540 books of patterns were issued at Lyons and these Arabesque styles, which are clearly used again in the Louis XIII period, were thought of as as elegant and refined.
In 1603 the Jesuits, who had been expelled from France in 1595, were recalled and in their zeal put much effort into promoting classic styles in art. Not only marquetry, ebony furniture and painted furniture were made, but the oriental spirit during the age of Louis XIII became conspicuous in the woods that were used and the styles of the fabrics.
Cabinets were the height of fashion in France from about 1640 to 1660. They were used to house collections of precious objects and natural rarities, such as unusual shells, but they were also admired as luxury objects in their own right.
Ebony was at that time the most fashionable wood for veneering cabinets. It was imported into France at great expense from Africa, Madagascar and India. In France the skilled woodworkers who made cabinets of this kind came to be called “ébénistes“, after the wood they used most. The outside of this cabinet is carved with scenes taken from the engraved illustrations to a novel first published in Paris in 1624.
An increasing variety of forms in furniture appeared with many more types of furniture being made for everyday use. Many forms of chairs and sofas became common, and the divan and console were products of the Louis the Thirteenth time.
Styles of ornament became more varied, with much scroll and shell carving.
The chairs are characterized by this lingering boxiness and heavy turning.
As a rule, chairs were more comfortable, and were more commonly used for ordinary domestic purposes. Sometimes they were made in sets, and were usually upholstered in velvet, brocade, tapestry, and needlework.
Bedroom furniture became more luxurious and the walls were commonly decorated with ornamental friezes above paneled wainscots and bed draperies were used and canopies were in vogue.
Cane was imported as seat coverings. Chairs were covered with leather or fabrics and upholstered very heavily. Reception beds were introduced. The Louis XIII period saw the introduction of the use of table covers and scarfs.
Many of these trends remained in effect through to the great period of French baroque furniture.
How to identify the Louis XIII style ?
– Type of furniture : chairs, armchairs, stools
– Straight lines, high back with round shape or square and law back
– Mounting out of turned wood, such as :
- Turning in Salomonique : spirals (2)
- Turning in balustrade : form pear (3)
- Turning in chain : succession of ovoid masses (4)
– Brace in “H”
– “Sheep bones” arms or feet (1)
image and info source: https://tacksandfabrics.com/2012/02/11/focus-on-french-style-louis-xiii/
Louis XIII painting
Louis XIII-style painting was influenced from the north, through Flemish and Dutch Baroque, and from the south, through Italian mannerism and early Baroque. Schools developed around Caravaggio and Peter Paul Rubens.
Among the French painters who blended Italian mannerism with a love of genre scenes were Georges de La Tour, Simon Vouet, and the Le Nain brothers.
Louis XIII Architecture
Louis XIII architecture was equally influenced by Italian styles. The greatest French architect of the era, Salomon de Brosse, designed the Palais du Luxembourg for Marie de’ Medici. De Brosse began a tradition of classicism in architecture that was continued by Jacques Lemercier, who completed the Palais and whose own most famous work of the Louis XIII period is the chapel of the Sorbonne (1635). Under the next generation of architects, French Baroque would take an even greater classical shift.
Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_XIII_style
Sculpture in France during this period was not of outstanding quality. Those working in this area included Jacques Sarrazin and Jean Warin, competent craftsmen but lacking the great talents that flourished under Louis XIV.
The Mannerist influences from Italy and from Flanders were so great that a true French style did not develop until the second quarter of the century.
Info source: http://www.britannica.com/art/Louis-XIII-style
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