The eye of the collector by Jean-luc Ferrand

The seat through French styles

Friday 18 December 2015, by Barbara Cogollos

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The Romanesque style (XVth century):

We were found very few furnitures of this time, because once outdated, it served for firewood.
The "chayère", it is a seat reserved for kings, then for clergymen.
The structure : involve a footstool.
The decor : rounded arch, with painted and embossed leather.
Assemblies : lugs and mortisings.

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(c) "Le Mobilier français, Les Sièges" de Guillaume Janneau, ed Jacques Fréal

The Gothic style (1st half of the XVIth century):

The seat : in wood with high back and with armrests reserved to the householder. The lords of Justice will be crown of a canopy, symbol of their dignity.
The structure : stable furniture which possess a box where the cover formed the seat.
The decor : plant shoot, folded cloth ornaments, fenestration.
Assemblies : lugs and mortisings.
New: High back.

JPEG - 89.5 kb
(c) "Le Mobilier français, Les Sièges" de Guillaume Janneau, ed Jacques Fréal

The Renaissance style (2nd half of the XVIth century and the begining of the XVIIth century):

1st style :

The chair evolves.
The structure : it widens and the dais disapear, to the benefits of a coronation which extands its back.
The decor : thinner, elements were reported like cornices, skirting strips, capitals...
Assemblies : elements were glued.
New : high back.

2nd style :

The armchair, is a simplification and a reduction of the pulpit.
The structure : uncluttered of the box mounted on four legs connected by struts forming a frame.
The decor : sculpted on the back.
New: the armrests were thinner and end sometimes in ram head.

The Louis XIII style (1610-1660):

The structure : The seating is large, the back is short. The spacer is in H.
The decor : the garniture is fixed by iron nails which apply as an integral parts of the decor. The rembourrage is covered by velvet, lampas, tapestry or by a common fabric. The turning is made in spiral.

New: armrests disappear.

It is at this time that emerge the word chair.

The Louis XIV style (1660-1725):

The structure : made in walnut or in beech. The back is higher and inverted in the back.
The decor : the base is more finely sculpted.
New : the spacer passes progressively with a H shape than th shape in X.

A gap is widening between bourgeois and provincial furnishing, diversionof regional models of the XVIth century and that one of princely palaces which we limit to courtiers. Furniture is more and more luxurious. Outstanding furniture is richly ornated with veneer and with inlay and the famous André Charles Boulle.

The Regence style (1725-1735):

The structure : armrests turn back, the seat widens and extends in depth, the high back of the seat become more rounded.
The decor : premises of rocailles ornaments; vegetation, shells...
New : easier and more mobile, disappearance of the spacer.

Emerge seats like "the voyeur or the vowel" : men ride on and can astride follow the game play. It’s a seat without armchairs where the back was ornated from a pillow which we crossed the arms.

The Louis XV style (1735-1760):

The structure : feet are curved.
The decor : more refined, it limits to few sculpted florets to conserve later, just the moulding.
New : th maker strikes furniture by his stamp from 1751, it’s the bigining of the signature.

New seats :
- the chair "à la reine"
- the chair cabriolet
- the bergere

The Transition style :

The structure : the chair lose its curiosity. Wether feet are straight on and the back is curved or the back is sqared or in medaillon and feet were curved.

Like its name evoque it, it is a forwarded style, it means that there are elements of the Louis XV style which blend with the Louis XVI style.

The Louis XVI style (1774-1793):

The structure : feet are straight, the structure is slighter.
The decor : Acanthus leaves, rosaces... Feet are in canned, in spiral, slashed.
New : the spacer in H come back after a half century of interruption, the back can be drilled.

The Directoire style (1789-1814):

The structure : the rectangular back tilts slightly and the high of the back roll in the back, lines are refined.
The decor : republican iconography as the pike surmounted with the Phrygian cap, symbol of liberty, or beams.
New : the abolition of the corporations allows craftmen to express themself in others areas than their one and to develop their creative talent.

Between beginings of the french Revolution and the end of the Empire, only 25 years running out, three different styles emerge and take the name of political regime.

The Consulat style (1799-1804):

The structure : emerging of feet in "sabre", the shape is sober and of a perfect balance.
The decor : the dominate inspiration stay the Antiquity, in the greek and roman register add Egypt thanks to napoleonean campaigns. The back of chairs are less and less garnished of fabric.
New : we love to use clear woods, however the great majority of furniture is realised in mahogany.

The general Bonaparte reverses the Directoire and establish the Consulat. The executif power is apportioned to three consuls.

The Empire style (1804-1815):

The structure : political events generate a serious situation which order even the shape of the seats.
The decor : reference to the travel in Egypt or to the Roman Empire. Beast paws, sarcophagus, lotus flowers, discarted palmettes, winged lion busts or feminin busts.
New : the empire bloqued the importation of mahogany in 1806, we used aborigine woods (ash, elm, lemon tree). Sometimes we silvered furniture.

The Restoration style (1815-1830):

The structure : one style simpler and without pretentiousness. The gondola type predominate with its straitght-lined façade and its curved back.
The decor : we focus the use of clear woods in opposition to the fashion of dark woods under the Empire.
New : Lily flowers substitute eagles and others emblems of the Empire.

The restoration of the Bourbons’ family in 1815 don’t think to return to the shapes of the past.

The Louis-Philippe style (1830-1850):

The structure : we melt styles and their shapes to give a composite style.
The decor : gothic arcatures , ogives, rocaille, the pattern "frogs’ legs"...
New : the medieval formalism.

The Second Empire style (1850-1875):

The structure : take back the old structures.
The decor : emergence of capiton in the upholstery. The wood forged ropes. Decorative overload often caractéristic of this period.
New : the footstool.

The Napoleon III epoch will attach primarily to make old copies, it’s for that we speak of style furniture (Louis XIII, XV, XVI...) andno from epoch because they created during a posterior period to the style that they do the difference.

The Art-Nouveau style (1890-1920):

The structure : thinner, with curve and a counter curve.
The decor : vegetation inspiration, important marquetry.
New : repertory completely new in response to the historicism past.

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