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French Furniture

History of French Furniture

When we say French Furniture what do we actually mean? What makes our furniture French? We wondered if you might like to know a little more about the history of French furniture through the ages and hope to give you plenty of food for thought and information with our guide to French furniture. From Baroque, through Rococo to present time French furniture has always been at the cutting edge of style so its no surprise that we still love French design and choose to decorate out homes accordingly. On these pages we will take you through the centuries of French furniture design to explain how each era designed their furniture and the reasons why. With such an array of different forms available to us there is a French style out there that will suit each and every one of us.

We start with the Baroque period, an era of bold design and certainly a brave choice for interior design characterised by the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles which stand testament to the 'Sun Kings' love and patronage of the arts. Not for the faint hearted, the Baroque style is both bold and grandiose, designed to reflect the owners status. Shouting opulence and luxury, pieces were adorned with scrolling foliage and garlands of flowers and beds were gilded to reflect as a mark of status and ownership.

After the death of Louis XIV and before Louis XV can take the throne we enter into the transitional Regence period where we begin to see a softening of the rigid Baroque rules as style moves towards the Rococo. Best understood not as a style but more as a state of mind the Regence period marks a change in attitude to furniture from the dramatically bold to comfort and contentment.

Moving onto the Rococo period, Louis XV and his mistress Madame De Pompadour championed this style as a reaction away from the strict rules of the Baroque movement. The Rococo period made way for more playful, witty themes and was at times frothy and frivolous, furniture was decadent, exuberantly carved and often heavily gilded bringing a touch of glamour to the homes of the aristocracy.

Pompeii and Herculaneum are recently discovered and with the discovery comes the neo classical era lead by a fascination for all things Roman which in turn influenced furniture design of this period.  France was one of the first countries to embrace neo this style which represented a turn away from the overly dramatic Baroque and frivolous Rococo styles and a move towards the idea of purity in the arts and design.

When France is ripped apart by the French Revolution Directoire furniture reflects the effect of the revolution on French Furniture design, being a simplified and more restrained version of the earlier neoclassical with limited decoration and cheaper materials. Marquetry is abandoned in favour of more austere decorative works but stylised foliage remained as a design influence. We also see the introduction for the first time of Egyptian motifs.

Finally we have arrived at the Empire Era, Napoleon was now Emperor, the economy was booming and a new aristocracy was forming at his court, the letter 'N' was to be found everywhere during this time as decoration and in interiors. The style still had its roots in the Greco Roman movement which had begun with the neo classical period and extended through the time of Directoire furniture but we see a return of the bold with the rise of the Empire style.

Whatever period of time suits your interior style we will have just the right piece of French Bedroom Furniture for you, from the Baroque to Empire through to modern and minimalist, its just a case of choosing your favourite.

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Head Office - 123 Queen Street, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 2BN - Call 01626 333006