Periodic of Antique Furniture

Each furniture style has several different and distinctive design elements that can easily be identified and recalled.

Louis XIV – French Baroque Furniture Style

Louis XIV French style furniture is also called Baroque. Popular from 1643 to 1715, Louis XIV design is heavy, heroic and pompous. Known for its rich symmetrical form, great volume and opulence, it is masculine in appearance, based on classical examples of furniture and influenced by the Flemish, Italian and Spanish Baroque.

Louis XIV Baroque French Furniture Design Elements

Louis XIV French style furniture is basically rectilinear, with curves only introduced in scroll supports and the occasional cabriole leg. Important pieces are armchairs, upholstered wing chairs, (both with stretchers), heavily draped beds and monumental armoires.

Popular Motifs of the Louis XIV French Style

Design motifs, or decorations on Baroque furniture such as acanthus leaves, arabesques, dolphins (symbol of Louis XIV), musical instruments, human and animal grotesques, sphinxes, griffins and lion’s head and paws are classically related.

Louis XV – French Rococo Furniture Style

In sharp contrast to the Louis XIV Baroque style and perhaps as a rebellion against it, Louis XV furniture style is light, feminine and asymmetrical. Also known as Rococo, Louis XV design features curved lines, smaller pieces and the increased use of upholstery and cushions. Charm, grace and elegance are the hallmarks of Louis XV. Popular from 1720 to 1760, it is the favourite style for French Provincial furniture.

Louis XV Rococo French Furniture Design Elements

Louis XV furniture is known for its curved forms, cabriole legs and delicate appearance. Straight lines were used only when absolutely necessary, for example, on the exterior structure of an armoire. Serpentine lines were drawn out and graceful. The asymmetrical nature of Louis XV Rococo French style made it more suitable for furniture than for architecture.

The main pieces of furniture associated with the Rococo are curved chairs without stretchers, bergères, chaise longues, duchesse and duchesse brisé, occasional tables, kidney-shaped tables and bombé-shaped commodes.

Popular Motifs of the Louis XV French Style

Shells, baskets and sprays of flowers, flowers tied with ribbons, pastoral and romantic scenes and symbols of love are commonly used Rococo motifs.

Louis XVI – French Neo-Classical Furniture

In vogue between 1760 to 1790, the Louis XVI style of furniture is also known as Neo-Classical. Influenced by the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum in 1738 and subsequent publications on the findings, it too was a revolt against the preceding stylistic period. Classical architectural elements of columns and pediments were refined and adapted for use on furniture and buildings. Symmetry was paramount.

Louis XVI Neo-Classic French Furniture Design Elements

Principal pieces of furniture of the Neo-Classical era are chairs with straight legs and medallion or oval backs, square-backed fauteuil, lyre-backed chairs, semi-circular commodes and side tables and tripod stands.

Popular Motifs of the Louis XVI French Style

Columns, pilasters, wreaths, garlands, drapery and floral festoons, rosettes, lyres, urns and ancient mythology all reflect a new-found fascination with classicism.

French Regence Furniture Style

The Regence is historically considered to be the years from 1715 to 1723. When Louis XIV died and his successor was still too young to reign, the Duc d’Orleans was appointed as regent to rule France. Stylistically however, the Regence is an important transitional period where the heavy, masculine furniture of the Baroque era began to transform into the light and feminine Rococo style.