French styles
 
French styles in furniture ...   French styles in construction ...
A few tips to identify styles in French furniture :
 
   
The reign of Louis XV (1723-1774) is the apex of the French cultural influence in Europe ; Baroque style ; no straight lines ; complicated forms ; fantasy ; marquetry

(credit)

A typical Louis XV armchair
Under Louis XVI (1774-1793), more simplicity, straight lines (credit)
Typical Louis XVI armchairs

The Directoire (1795-1799) was a period of liberty and fantasy after the horror of the Revolutionary Terror ; a clear return to the Romans and the Greeks ; a lot of painted wood

(credit)
Directoire bed
The Empire (1804-1815) was a period of military glory and new money ; the style is pompous with columns, bronze and guilded decoration (credit)
A typical Empire buffet
   
 

And read more about those kings!

USEFUL TIPS ..... Remember : there are no strict rules for styles because at the same moment some regions may be experiencing a new form of art while other regions, more isolated, still produce pieces according to the previous style.

 
Medieval castles were designed to resist a siege and discourage the enemy ; high towers, a moat, very small windows (credit)
A typical medieval castle
Progressively, the old medieval castles were transformed : larger windows, a spectacular facade, external sculpted staircases, art and beauty everywhere (credit)
A typical Renaissance castle (Blois)
The improvement of guns made medieval castles vulnerable ; Vauban, under Louis XIV, built a ring of fortified cities all around France ; (credit)
Cities fortified by Vauban (here : Rocroi, Norhern France)
With Louis XIV (1643-1715) the castle of Versailles becomes an instrument of the power of the King : to force the nobility to live near the King (and weaken their regional power) and to impress Europe (with the vision of such richness and beauty) (credit)
Versailles : an abstract idea made castle : read more about what this castle means for the French
The elegance of the French XVIIIth Century influences all of Europe (and even the new American Republic : see Washington D.C. and most State monuments) (credit)
A typical XVIIIth Century castle (Canon, Normandy)

A few tips to help you enjoy more your visit...

  Facts and figures about antiques, art, etc.
  • Know a little more about French history : each style is the expression of its epoch and is easier to understand and enjoy if you can relate it to its time (wars, French supremacy or peace and prosperity)

  • When you visit a castle, look carefully at details such as the silk curtains, the precious tapestries, the porcelaine plates, etc : they illustrate the strength and the persistance of the sector of luxury and artcraft

  • There is a French style for gardens, the "Jardin a la Francaise" : an abstract vision of nature. Read about it.

  • Test the comments above on the monuments of Paris : see my page historical Paris

  • More to come ...

 
  • The Salle des Ventes Drouot is a popular auction place in Paris (9 rue Drouot 75009) ; every day except Sundays several auctions take place ; you can see the objects for the next auctions and attend the auctions of the day.

  • Famous names and what they mean : Andre-Charles BOULLE (the most famous cabinetmaker, end of 17th century), Emile GALLE (Art Nouveau, i.e. furniture inspired by nature, c.1900), Andre LENOTRE (1613-1700) is the master of gardens (Versailles, Vaux-ke-Vicomte), Jules Hardouin MANSARD (1646-1708) the architect of Louis XIV, etc.

  • More to come

To related pages : French History, to unknown Paris, to the ugliest buildings in Paris, etc...

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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books :

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
  • "French Toast - Heureuse comme une Américaine en France", Ramsay, Paris 2005

More on Harriet's books (excerpts, upcoming events, testimonials, etc..)

To email me

Together or separately, Harriet and Philippe Rochefort speak about Intercultural Differences : click here for information.