French styles: from baroque to empire

French styles: from baroque to empire

France, as the image is associated with romance and refinement – such a French style in the interior of houses, as well as a cafe. It is chic without pretensions – all elements of design are chosen in harmony and without pretentiousness, keeping the space easy for perception.

In the 17th century the Renaissance style departs from the strict imitation of antiquity and becomes very sophisticated – the Baroque style is formed. The Palace of Versailles, begun in 1661 for Louis XIV, is a vivid embodiment of baroque. This palace is an enfilade of large, luxuriously decorated rooms containing many people. Their walls are divided into panels, filled with tapestries, marble cladding, mirrors or glazed windows. Doors and other wooden parts were carved and, as a rule, gilded. Furniture, usually made by Dutch craftsmen, was also covered with gilded carvings or complex inlays of precious wood and metal. Many types of tables and chairs were developed, each with a specific purpose. Among the decorative motifs classic acanthus leaves, cupid figures, fruits and flowers, stylized grape leaves and ivy were dominated. Tapestries, silk fabrics and drawings were widely used for the upholstery of chairs, bedspreads and floor carpets. The French palace established that high level of royal luxury, which all European courts subsequently sought to achieve.

During the reign of Louis XV, a new rococo style emerged (1730–1760), largely reflecting the tastes of the overgrown stratum of large merchants and small nobility. In the chateau country houses, in Parisian houses and Versailles itself, smaller, more intimate chambers came into vogue. The designers began to widely apply the finishing of the interior walls with plaster and their subsequent painting in pastel colors. The ornament, still rich and carved, was dominated by continuous wavy and twisting lines. All this created a general effect of carelessness, grace and comfort. At the same time, the dimensions of the furniture decreased, in the development of which curvilinear outlines, curved surfaces and curved legs also prevailed. For the first time, there was furniture designed for increased comfort – chaise lounges and ottomans. Preference was given to thinner and lighter fabrics decorated with a small pattern of ribbons and waves, bouquets and shells. The spread of Oriental motifs in the form of pagodas, pheasants or monkeys reflected the fascination with the East.

France continued to dictate European fashion under Louis XVI, when neoclassicism became established (1760–1789). The discovery of the ruins of ancient Roman buildings in Pompeii in 1748 again aroused interest in the classical tradition. As a result, whimsically curved surfaces were crowded out with straight elements, reminiscent of the classical columns of ancient Rome. The interior was dominated by white color with a slight addition of gilding. Everywhere: in the armrests of the seats, cornices or framed doors – a clear system of division into the base, trunk, capital and entablature prevails. Furniture and fabric designs were characterized by small scale and refinement of proportions.

The military expeditions of Napoleon to Egypt, Greece and Rome had a huge impact on the formation of the French Empire style. Interest in Roman antiquities, which had already appeared under Louis XVI, now covers most of the styles and manners of antiquity. The interiors are dominated by dark colors with an emphasis on white columns, statues and draperies, stacked like a tent. The fashion includes the image of swords, copies and instruments of a military orchestra. The furniture is enlarged and somewhat weighed with images of animals. The invention of the 1801 jacquard weave opened up the possibility for the creation of new, intricately interwoven multicolor fabrics of factory production.

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