Louis XIII, Louis XVI, Renaissance, Empire, Art Nouveau … We would lose the head on all these names of styles that sometimes difficult to differentiate. We offer you a short chronological guide to find you there.
Great decorative styles before the 17th century
The styles mentioned today are not necessarily found in our daily lives because they are often very old so the pieces are rare and expensive or it is furniture totally redone or imitations.
The medieval furniture is pretty vague for us today. There is not much furniture or sources left to study. However, we know that it was quite simple and limited by the technology and knowledge of the time. The furniture and the few decorative elements were inspired by the fashionable architecture. For example Roman art inspired by antiquity or Gothic art, which on the contrary leaves out the ancient inspiration.
The Renaissance style furniture borrows completely its forms in antiquity, with columns, arcades … We adorn the furniture enormously with mirrors and garlands, for example.
The Henry II style, or second renaissance, is marked by an evolution in ornaments and materials. We use a lot of marble and bronze. It is also a style that will be found in the nineteenth century with imitations of the style of the sixteenth century. We find only few furniture of the original style, but we can still find pieces of the style of the nineteenth inspired by it.
The great decorative styles of the 17th and 18th century
The style Louis XIII is located on the end of the reign of the king, between 1610 and 1643. The lines are quite straight, inspired by the architecture of the time, and the furniture itself is quite sober. All the ancient repertoire is amplified and is imposing by size. It is in this style that cabinets and cabinets were born. We use a lot of native and exotic woods because at that time, this type of wood literally flooded the market, as well as for Louis XIV and Louis XV styles.
The Louis XIV style is between 1643 and 1710. Both baroque and classic, it is very luxurious and majestic. Think of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles to give you a little idea of what that style looked like. Unlike previous styles, it is no longer inspired by architecture and is divided into two categories, bourgeois furniture solid wood and ornate furniture richly decorated.
The Louis XV style, also known as rocaille or rococo is directly from the Regency style. This style is totally emancipated from classical and ancient inspirations. Created by the cabinetmakers following technical advances, particularly in the manufacture of seats, almost everything is ornamented in the Louis XV style. We abandon symmetry to give way to the imagination. Used mainly between 1720 and 1760, it contains rocks, shells, flowers and various leaves and the furniture begins to put the comfort largely before the utility.
The Louis XVI style, between 1750 and 1790, saw the return of the inspirations of ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and antiquity in general. Much less sober than the Louis XV style, the style stands out for its circular or elliptical curves. Everything is a question of proportion and harmony in this style which wants to be as elegant as possible.
The great decorative French styles of the 19th century
The Empire style between 1804 and 1815 is similar to the Louis XVI style, drawing inspiration from antiquity. However, the Empire style is simpler and heavier a little. The beauty of the decoration rests less on the ornaments than on the quality of the materials. The furniture was very rich but also very impressive and practical.
The Restoration style follows the Empire style directly. The two styles look a little alike, but the Restoration style is more intimate, more comfortable, more rounded, more user friendly. It is found between 1814 and 1839.
The Louis-Philippe style is very close to the Restoration style, but it also finds other sources of inspiration such as the Renaissance or Louis XV for example. It is a fairly massive style, but very comfortable, which is found between 1830 and 1848, period marked by the beginnings of industrialization.
The Napoleon III style is a bit peculiar. Located between 1852 and 1870, it is a composite style that finds its inspiration in almost all the styles mentioned above. So it’s a bit difficult to describe it if it’s just a mix of different pieces of many styles. However, in the last years of this style, it will find its own identity, with furniture often very ornate and ostentatious of a great diversity, who wants to incrust the luxury in each piece of furniture.
The great decorative French styles of the 20th century
Art Nouveau is an artistic movement that takes place over a fairly short period, between 1890 and 1910. This style, which has its roots in the Belle Epoque, draws inspiration from nature, flowers, and animals. It is very recognizable whether in terms of furniture or exterior architecture.
Finally Art Deco is a style whose lines are much simpler and geometric, which does not prevent a certain luxury, especially in the choice of noble materials such as marble or ivory.
Art Nouveau and Art Deco, although very different, are often confused. We propose to explore in more detail these styles and their differences in our article specific to these two styles.
After Art Deco, we found styles such as Vintage and Retro. Two modern styles that can be found everywhere today but that can be difficult to differentiate, as we see in our article on the differences between Vintage and Retro, without forgetting the industrial decoration!
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