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There is nothing quite like cozying in a favorite chair at the end of a long day. Or at the start of a weekend, with a book and a good view.
Louis XVI chairs have an elegant neoclassical aesthetic, returning to Greek and Roman designs. It is intended and constructed for Queen Marie Antoinette for new apartments she built at the Versailles Palace, Fontainebleau Palace, and Tuileries Palace, as well as other royal houses.
Truthfully, you don’t need to live in a royal abode to enjoy this style. Home life anywhere becomes even better when your furniture has history, and is assuredly made with quality materials that will outlive you.
Louis XVI Style Emerges
Louis XVI style reflects the last period of royal opulence just prior to the French Revolution. The furniture from this time is all a part of the historic aesthetic progression in France. This can all be categorized under the neoclassical umbrella or French furniture, from 1749 until 1850. Specifically, Louis XVI style is categorized by the 19-year reign of Louis XVI in France, which lasted 1754 to 1793.
hairs, France is a delightful group of originals in this style. The elegant armchairs have oval shaped backrests, fluted legs, padded arm supports and beautifully carved rosettes. They are awe-inspiring and have the distinct quality and beauty of Louis XVI, even if crafted some years after the king’s true reign.
The Baroque Period That Came Before
Prior to Louis XVI, furniture had a baroque era. Louis XVI overlapped with the fading end of the baroque period.
The baroque period featured curved lines and heavy ornamentation. These embellishments took center stage in many pieces. This Baroque Oak Armchair stands out for the beautiful hand-carved detailing, especially on the front edge of the seat. Tiny characteristics on this one item highlight so much craftsmanship and value. It is easy to imagine this chair seated in a beautiful opulent space, filled with velvet upholstery and bold, shiny accents.
Louis XV Chairs to Consider
Louis XV, also known as Louis “le Bien-Aimé” (The Beloved), reigned from 1715 to 1774. His long, impactful time in the throne impacted many spheres of society. He was a generous donor and advocate for the studies of science and engineering. He also collected scientific instruments, astrology tools and clocks.
During his rule, furniture was crafted by a network of designers and craftsmen. This Louis XV Armchair originates from 1860 France, and fuses some variety of XV and XVI styles. In the mid-nineteenth century, the term rococo referred to a style recalling the ornament and design aesthetics of the reigns of Louis XV and early Louis XVI.
French Neoclassicism: Timelessness
In the end, Louis XVI chairs have some qualities of the beginning of French neoclassicism. This style is understated, classic and modestly ornamented. This Pair of Neoclassical Armchairs, was crafted in the 19th century towards the other end of the neoclassical movement.
Nonetheless, they are representative of some qualities of this style that emerged towards the end of Louis XVI. The lines and shapes are even more simplified and effortless. This makes them incredibly suitable for many modern interiors today, and surely timeless for years to come.
Iterations of Mimicry
As it is clear from some examples above, pieces did not have to be made in the exact year that their style was born, or even “en vogue”. There are always attempts to recreate or revisit styles that bring joy.
For example, something like this Pair of Louis XVI Style Bergéres dates back to 1860-70, almost 100 years after Louis XVI was on the throne. By the way, did you know “bergére” means “an upholstered armchair of an 18th century style having an exposed wood frame”? As a benefit of its origin, the chairs remain in fantastic shape, and feature so much respect for the style.
What are the Features Louis XVI Chairs?
Louis XVI pieces are sometimes described as “à la reine”, which translates to “in the queen’s manner”.
For chairs, this means that they have tall backs, low seats, and are padded for extra comfort. Seat backs themselves are often oval shaped, or resemble a shield shape. Some of the qualities of Louis XVI pieces can be spotted in this Pair of Louis XVI Armchairs. The padded armrests connect at the seat’s top to a graceful scrolled surface.
Their straight legs tend to be curved or tapered. There are decorative ornamentations in specific places along the carved wood, usually featuring a flower or rose motif.
Louis XVI Chairs: Not All the Same!
There are always exceptions to the rules, of course. This sometimes complicates identifying specific Louis XVI pieces, but it also allows you to stretch beyond rigid limitations. Unlike the example above, this Louis XVI Walnut Chair with Straw Seat features a rectangular seat back, and it is not highly ornamented.
However, the elegant and classic design of the armchair makes for a stately piece. It is in perfect antique condition ready to be used in your home. Undoubtedly you could place this chair in a country house and infuse your space with rustic history.
Louis XVI Innovation
During the Louis XVI era, dining room tables became more widespread. They were now extendable and most often round or oval. Vitrines, glass display cases were introduced to display prized knickknacks.
Around the dining tables, you’d find elegant sets of dining chairs. A Set of 6 Original Louis XVI Chairs is a remarkable addition to any dining room, hundreds of years ago or even today. These ones specifically for their finely carved backs and elegantly designed round legs in the front. This entire set of dining chairs can be easily combined with modern or traditional aesthetics or tables.
Writing tables primarily remained the same as their predecessors, while incorporating the motifs and geometry of the new style.
How Do I Identify Louis XVI Style Chairs?
Keep your eyes peeled for some specifics in particular when looking at vintage Louis XVI. Using these Antique Louis XVI Dining Chairs as an example, examine the details below.
For the legs, chairs tend to have slim, tapered legs. This is in contrast to the previous era, with rounder S curves. While this is not a fast and hard rule, it will help you identify differentiation between phases. As well, they usually have fluted legs, which exhibit shallow grooves running vertically along the shaft of the leg.
As well, features included heavy use of mahogany, as well as simple carved details and marquetry. Louis XVI style is known for more restraint with decoration, compared to earlier years. Even so, the pieces depict natural elements like leaves and flowers, as well as ancient Greek and Rome.
In Your Home: Louis XVI Chairs
Show off this knowledge as a guest at your next dinner party, paying attention to the details. You’ll have so much insight into what to look for and what might suit your own tastes.
Now, equipped with all this information, feel confident on your chair search, from single armchairs to dining chair sets. Look through delightful upholstered Louis XVI chairs, from silk fabric to adorned cotton and decorated velvet. Notice fantastic details in the wood, from sturdy oak to stunning mahogany. Embrace the options you have in front of you with open arms!
No matter which era inspires you, it is impossible to go wrong with the antique, vintage and modern choices on Styylish.com.