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 a last phase of Rococò and the first phase of Neoclassicism at the same time.

Model of a Louis XVI style boudoir, c. 1780
Model of a Louis XVI style boudoir, c. 1780.

Image source: https://www.pinterest.it/pin/89931323784859480/

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 becoming the king of France.


Portrait of King Louis XVI by Antoine-François Callet.
Portrait of King Louis XVI by Antoine-François Callet.

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Louis_XVI_de_France_Antoine-Fran%C3%A7ois_Callet.jpg

When and Why this Style Spreaded?

The Louis XVI decorative style spreaded mainly as a reaction to the concepts of Rococò.  Eighteenth century and Louis XVI design has been influenced most of the times by the discovery of several important relics in 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.

Jean-Henri Riesener, Queen Marie Antoinette's roll top desk, 1786. Chateau de Fontainebleau.
Jean-Henri Riesener, Queen Marie Antoinette’s roll top desk, 1786. Chateau de Fontainebleau.

Image source: https://www.pinterest.ru/pin/525443481508619653/

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 owners. She has played an important role into the diffusion of this style. This dealers sold furniture and decorative objects to the rich, exerting a sgrong 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.

Diana the Huntress by Houdon.
Diana the Huntress by Houdon.

Image source: https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/diana

Characteristic of Louis XVI Style. 

The Louis XVI furniture was different form Louis XV’s style rigour. 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 king’s favourite.

Hôtel de Soubise, Paris, France: boudoir of Madame de Serilly.
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://www.pinterest.it/pin/89931323784859475/

Info source: 

https://www.britannica.com/art/Louis-XVI-style

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