The French Restoration style (also known as Charles X style) was predominantly Neoclassicism, though it also showed the beginnings of romanticism in music and literature. The term describes the arts, architecture, and decorative arts of the Bourbon Restoration period
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Charles X style lasted from 1818 to 1834 and happened during the Bourbon Restoration. This style did not replace totally the style of furniture from the French Empire but it was different from the formalism in the Napoleonic era, during which strictness and simplicity were inspired by Greco-Roman art. Indeed, artistic fields flourished.
Charles X, The Count of Artois, brother of Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, inherited the thrown in 1824. A great patron of the arts in the Ancien Régime (Former Regime), he later lost interest. During his reign, style was adapted to the tastes and needs of the new Bourgeois society. The novels of Balzac describe the comfortable apartments adapted to the new focus on family life. Regency style furniture was imported from England.
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Features of Charles x’ style
This style did not replace totally the style of furniture from the French Empire but it was different from the formalism in the Napoleonic era, during which strictness and simplicity were inspired by Greco-Roman art. Indeed, artistic fields flourished. In terms of furniture, this renewal was suggested by the softening of shapes. Even though the simple aspect from the French Empire was still visible, shapes became curvier with volutes and arabesques.
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Another distinction is the loss of the massive aspect of furniture and the decrease of dimensions in order to decorate smaller appartments. Apartments had essential elements such as chests of drawers, big rounded tables in the dining room, desks or secretaries, armoires and even dressing tables, comfortable fainting couches in the living room, small tables, pedestal tables, as well as gondola chairs. The wavy aspect of the latters certainly represent Charles X style the best.
Chair design reflected the change to make rooms more intimate and personal with conversational seating arrangements. The predominant shape in chairs was the “gondole”, or gondola. The gondole design was comfortable and the smaller size made it easily portable. During the reign of Charles X the use of “bois clair”, or blond woods, became popular and dark wood marquetry with palmette motifs was used for decorative effect rather than bronze.
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One of the most emblematic features of this style is the use of bois clairs – light woods in warm blond tones – and indigenous woods that are varnished in order to highlight the grains. Bird’s-eye maple, ash trees, plane trees, yew trees, beech trees, olive trees and cedar trees were most likely to be used. Indeed, at the beginning of the 19th century dark woods were hard to find. The furniture was often decorated with fine inlays made out of dark wood representing foliage, which contrasted with the veneer. Even though these patterns can look like bronze decorations from the Empire era, they were far more simple and did not represent any military or mythological attributes.
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One of the best examples of Restoration interior design is the Charles X museum inside the Louvre, designed for the annual Salon of artists. The compartmentalized ceilings contain paintings and extravagant ornamentation, including cornucopias, columns, and pilasters. The Restoration period saw the rise of the neo-Gothic style, which arose in interior design during the 1820s. It mirrored elements seen in gothic cathedrals, such as arches and rose windows, which became very popular for French salons and galleries.
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