The style of French furniture that we call Louis XV flourished during the period of 1730-1775. If the Louis XIV style of furniture was designed with the glorification of the Sun King in mind and all in a massive, masculine, square shape, the Louis XV style of furniture is just the opposite. Designed for the comfort and glorification of beautiful women, it looks romantic, sensual and feminine. A fluid abstraction of unbroken curves is the guiding principle of the Louis XV style of furniture; the legs are curved, the backrest is curved and the seat is curved. Even Louis XV architecture also adheres to this principle. He hated straight lines. In typical Louis XV architecture, everything is curved: the ceiling, the panel designs on the walls, the panel designs on the doors, and even the corners of a room are curved.
The Louis XV style is sometimes called the Rococo style. It is derived from two French words meaning rock and shell. Rock and shell were the two popular motifs for decoration of this period. The Rococo style features extensive and elaborate ornamentation and decoration. It was also during this period that France became enthralled with things Chinese. This fascination with Chinese motifs was called Chinoiserie. A recently discovered Chinese painting method called Lacquerware was generally used to paint wooden furniture. Fabrics and wall coverings with Chinese motifs were also designed. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find some Louis XV style furniture with this Chinese influence.
The basic characteristics of a Louis XV style of furniture are:
1. Shapes and curved shapes. This period abhorred anything straight.
2. It features extensive rococo decoration. Everything is elaborately decorated with intricate carvings. The wooden surfaces are decorated with inlays, gilt brackets and hand-painted. With the cockle shell design as the focal point.
3. Romantic imagery is often reflected in their motifs. This was a period of romance for Du Barry and Madame Pompadour. Images of love such as Cupid and his arrow are often reflected in the designs. The shepherdess’s hat and basket, fishing and hunting scenes, violin or horn and other musical motifs, bouquets and other pastoral scenes are very common design elements in this period.
4. This period designed everything with an eye to lightness and grace. Delicacy is his guiding spirit. The scale is also delicate compared to the very massive earlier style of Louis XIV. It is smaller, softer and more comfortable.
5. Since it has become smaller and more delicate in size, the need for stretchers to support the legs is eliminated.
In conclusion, the Louis XV style is commonly used in homes today. Its delicate shape and size are very practical, and it has both the scale and grace that are the goal of most décor today. In fact, it is one of the favorites of both designers and homeowners when it comes to decorating traditional homes.