Related Articles: French Furniture Styles
French Furniture Styles
After fifteen years of ringing fanfares from one end of Europe to the other, the Napoleonic adventure ended on the plain of Waterloo, France. The Restoration was a reaction against the gaudy spectacle and monumental pomp of the Empire. It fostered an elegance, refinement and subtlety that had been obscured by Napoleonic grandeur.
Furniture: Elegant yet unpretentious harmony characterizes Restoration furniture, which was comfortable, gracious and portable. Bulky pieces with brass fittings gave way to smaller ones with delicate profiles and inlay decoration. Some tables had in-curving square-section legs with paw feet. Gueridons, often used as side tables in dining rooms, were produced in large numbers and sizes. Chairs are graceful and easy to move. Chair backs were arched. Legs were straight or slightly out-turned, back legs had a pronounced outward flare.
Materials and technique: Mahogany, deemed too heavy, was replaced by blond woods inlayed against dark wood. Varnished ash, elm, bird's eye maple, olive wood and acacia was also used. Marble furniture tops were often pale gray or white, with rounded corners.
Ornament: Light and refined ornamentation, emphasizing the structural form was common. Thin, delicate moldings were now popular. Motifs include cornucopias, floral garlands, bouquets and ribbons.
Source: French Furniture by Sylvie Chadenet