Louis XV furniture, named for Louis XV, is a French style of furniture popular from 1730 through 1775. This type of furniture was designed with women in mind, boasting beautiful curves and ornate decorations to be feminine and romantic. It truly is the exact opposite of the masculine designs of its predecessor, Louis the XIV furniture.
Also known as the Rococo Style (a combination of the French words for rock and shell), Louis the XV furniture boasts beautiful ornate decorations throughout its design. Much like other French furniture from this time, there is a large Oriental influence in the design, such as depictions of Chinese moths, or Chinoiserie and the utilization of the Chinese method of painting called Lacquering. Even the fabrics have Chinese designs and motifs.
One of the most defining characteristics of Louis XV furniture is the beautiful curved shapes and forms, from the curvature of the legs to the round shape of the seat cushions and backs, to even the ovals or curved edged of the tabletops. The curviness and absence of straight lines in the design adds to the delicacy of the design. Louis XV furniture is meant to be ornate and delicate, much like the women it was meant to emulate and accommodate. Furthermore, the motifs of the furniture are extremely romantic, utilizing motifs with images of love like cupid, musical motifs, and bouquets. The frames of most Louis XV furniture were made of beech, walnut, or cherry.
Colors used in Louis the XV designs were often very bright and eye catching. Pieces are often smaller and less formal than the designs of the Louis VIX and its other predecessors. Some of the most celebrated designers of the time was Oeben, Baumhauer, Lacroix, Dubois, Saunier, Leleu and B.V.R.B. Many of these artists were skilled cabinet makers and sculptors of their time, who took their knowledge and skills and created beautiful furniture. One of the most celebrated types of furniture of this period is called the Commode, which is a beautifully designed curved chest of usually two drawers. These may have been used in a foyer or maybe as a nightstand type piece in a bedroom, or even as a dining room piece. Of course, the commode maintains the curvy body known of furniture of this period with the beautiful ornate designs and Chinese influences often seen in Louis XV furniture.
Another well known piece of this time is the Bergere chair, the most popular chair design on the Louis XV collection. The bergere chair, translated to mean the shephardess chair, is a fully enclosed winged chair. The chair is fully upholstered and the wings were designed to shield the user’s face from the fire emanating from the fireplaces and drafts common during this time period. The frames was often painted beech, mahogany, or fruitwood. These chairs were often used for lounging and are still quite popular today.
Louis XV furniture is among the most romantic of the designs during the 18th and early 19th centuries. With its feminine designs and beautiful ornamentation, the furniture was intended to emulate the curves of a woman’s body with comfort and functionality expected of such craftsmanship. Louis XV furniture is the inspiration for much of the fanciful designs found in today’s mass produced formal furniture.