]Louis XVI reigned for just 19 years, 1774-1793, but the style he came to represent had its beginnings during the reign of his predecessor and grandfather, Louis XV. Through the efforts of Madame Pompadour, the preferred mistress of Louis XV, the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were excavated. This major archaeological discovery brought a surge of interest in classical, ancient Rome and led to the development of neoclassicism in Europe. During this period, the rococo (or rocaille) style gradually faded and gave way to a simpler, less ornate aesthetic.
King Loius XVI himself had little interest in the arts, so the furniture of this period was influenced mainly by the king’s bothers, the Comte de Provence (the future Louis XVIII) and the Comte D’Artois (the future Charles X), and especially Queen Marie Antoinette, who ordered furniture to decorate her apartments at the Palace of Versailles, the Palace of Fontainebleau, and the Tuileries Palace. They collectively sponsored the arts, ordering large amounts of furniture in the neoclassical style, and all the wealthy nobles soon followed their example.
Louis XVI style is characterized by straight lines rather than the curves that dominated the baroque period. Curves, when they appear, are precise and compass drawn rather than the freeform curves of rocaille. The legs of furniture are often fluted to imitate the columns of ancient Rome. Musical motifs transformed into depictions of the lyre, a Roman instrument, rather than the horns and violins of the preceding period. Roman urns also become a popular theme. More exotic themes can be found during this time as well, such as Arabesque, Chinese, and Etruscan figures. Specialized pieces were also invented, such as lightweight chairs for men sitting at gambling tables, and specialized chairs for boudoirs, dressing rooms, libraries, and antechambers.
Despite the turn to a newer, simpler style, the lightness and grace of Louis XV style is maintained during the reign of Louis XVI, making furniture from this period a continuing popular style for today’s homeowners and interior designers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]