Louis period styles

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Louis period styles,

1610–1793, succession of modes of interior decoration and architecture that established France as a leading influence in the decorative arts.

Louis XIV

During the reign of Louis XIII (1610–43) there was a transition from the baroque style, strongly influenced by Italy, to the classical dignity of the period of Louis XIV (1643–1715). The Louis XIV [Louis Quatorze] style, established after the king took personal control of the government in 1661, was molded by the chief minister, Colbert. He established manufactories of tapestries, textiles, furniture, and ornaments; assembled leading artists and artisans in the royal service; and appointed Charles Le BrunLe Brun, Charles
, 1619–90, French painter, decorator, and architect. He studied with Vouet and in Rome. Strongly influenced by Poussin, he returned in 1646 to Paris, where he gradually developed a more decorative form of classicism.
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 director of the GobelinsGobelins, Manufacture nationale des
, state-controlled tapestry manufactory in Paris. It was founded as a dye works in the mid-15th cent. by Jean Gobelin. A tapestry works started by two Flemish weavers, Marc de Comans and François de la Planche, called to France by Henri
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 manufactory and decorator of the palace of Versailles.

Colbert worked in close cooperation with J. H. MansartMansart or Mansard, Jules Hardouin
, 1646–1708, French architect. He studied under his great-uncle François Mansart and under Libéral Bruant.
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, achieving interiors of great splendor, in which the decoration was closely integrated with the architectural framework. Neutral backgrounds were often used to emphasize the strong, rich colors of Gobelin, Aubusson, and Beauvais tapestries, Savonnerie and Oriental rugs, velvet or brocade upholstery, hangings, and large paintings on walls and ceilings. Such ornaments as scrolls, acanthus leaves, caryatids, busts, and full figures with festoons of flowers and fruit were employed. Large mirrors decorated the walls. Furniture scaled to the huge proportions of the rooms was made of ebony or covered with silver, gilt, or lacquer and decorated with carving and with marquetry in the manner of A. C. BoulleBoulle or Buhl, André Charles
, 1642–1732, French cabinetmaker, the master of a distinctive style of furniture, much imitated, for which his name has become a synonym.
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In contrast to the heavy, massive members and curves used in the period of Louis XIV, the régence stylerégence style
, transitional style in architecture and decoration originated in France during the regency (1715–23) of Philippe, duc d'Orléans. The most important practitioners of the régence were Gilles Marie Oppenord and Robert de Cotte.
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, established during the regency of Philippe II, duc d'Orléans (1715–23), began to employ delicate lines and intricate curves. Finely sculptured bronze reliefs became the outstanding mode of furniture decoration under the leadership of the cabinetmaker Charles CressentCressent, Charles
, 1685–1768, French cabinetmaker, one of the chief creators of the régence style. Although at first a sculptor and bronze craftsman, he studied under the furniture designer Boulle and became official cabinetmaker to the regent Philippe II, duc
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Louis XV

The Louis XV [Louis Quinze] (1723–74) style was characterized by free curves and the use of rococorococo
, style in architecture, especially in interiors and the decorative arts, which originated in France and was widely used in Europe in the 18th cent. The term may be derived from the French words rocaille and coquille
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 ornament and chinoiseriechinoiserie
, decorative work produced under the influence of Chinese art, applied particularly to the more fanciful and extravagant manifestations. Intimations of Eastern art reached Europe in the Middle Ages in the porcelains brought by returning travelers.
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. Rooms were smaller, specialized, and arranged for convenient use. Colors were delicate. Tinted wood, veneer, lacquer panels, marquetry, mounts by CaffieriCaffieri
, French family of artists. Philippe Caffieri, 1634–1716, left Italy to enter the service of Louis XIV at the Gobelin factory. He and a son, Jacques Caffieri,
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 and Pierre GouthièreGouthière, Pierre
, 1732?–c.1813, French metalworker. The greatest artist of ornamental bronzes of the period of Louis XVI, he produced a vast number of superb cast and chiseled gilt bronzes, executed chiefly for the adornment of fine clocks, East Asian and
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, and porcelain plaques of Sèvres wareSèvres ware,
porcelain made in France by the royal (now national) potteries established (1745) by Louis XV at Vincennes, moved (1756) to Sèvres after changing hands.
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 distinguish the designs. The style in its later phase was more restrained.

Louis XVI

The restraint of the later Louis XV style presaged the strong reaction of the Louis XVI [Louis Seize] (1774–93) period, during which simplicity replaced excess and the classic revivalclassic revival,
widely diffused phase of taste (known as neoclassic) which influenced architecture and the arts in Europe and the United States during the last years of the 18th and the first half of the 19th cent.
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 influenced decorative motifs and brought a return to straight lines and symmetry. Slenderness of proportion was emphasized in furniture. Colors were light in tone; ornament was delicate and in low relief, embossed, or painted. Furniture details included slender fluted legs, convex moldings, and rosette, leaf, and flower motifs in the carved frames often painted white and touched with gilt. Upholstery and hangings used varied fabrics. The Revolution abolished the guilds, which had maintained high standards of craftsmanship, and weakened the practice, instituted under Louis XIV, of cooperation between artists and masters of the various crafts in producing fine furniture and decorative accessories.


See S. de Ricci, Louis XIV and Regency Furniture and Decoration (1929); G. Souchal, French Eighteenth-Century Furniture (tr. 1961); J. Viaux, French Furniture (tr. 1964).

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