Louis XV style
Louis XV style was a French Rococo style mainly used in the decorative arts and some forms of architecture. It is datable to the personal reign of King Louis XV from 1723 to 1774. It overlapped with the Régence period at the beginning and the Neo-Classical period toward the end.
It was a complete contrast to the previous Louis XIV style which had embodied dignity, splendour and opulence. Louis XV style was highly decorative yet elegant, designed to blend with the rest of the interior decor.
Furniture design became lighter, smaller and less grand. New types of furniture were introduced such as the bergère comprised of a deep seat and encircling padded back, the causeuse and marquise designed for two people to sit on and the duchesse, a kind of chaise longue with a rounded back.
Charles Cressent and Jean-François Oeben, both renowned cabinet-makers, designed furniture with ornamental gilt-bronze moulds displaying intricate C and S scrolls, swirling tendril-like shapes that spiralled, sculpted birds, dragons and putti in striking vivid designs. Complex geometric Parquetry and Marquetry of flowers and ribbonwork.
The more expensive furniture would be decorated in polychrome reproduction vernis martin or lacquer panels. The panels themselves would have ornamentation in the form of Chinese-style figures, Porcelain plaques, landscapes or floral designs.
Several factories were producing porcelain during this period including Chantilly, Saint- Cloud and Mennecy.
The most significant of all the factories was Vincennes (later known as Sévres) which the king had granted a 20-year exclusive privilege to in 1745 to manufacture soft-paste porcelain. It was also the only factory in France permitted to use yellow Ground colour and Gilding.
Madame de Pompadour, the king's mistress, became chief patron of Sévres porcelain production thus increasing its popularity with other European aristocracy.
Amongst the factory's many wares were groups of lovers and children which were popular Rococo subjects and wares adorned with sprigs of flowers and bouquets.
Silks woven at Lyon were also decorated with flowers as were the tapestries of Beauvais and Gobelins and Savonnerie carpets.
Well known silversmiths of the period such as Thomas Germain and Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier made silver ware that represented the Rococo ideal of naturalism.
During the 1750s and 1760s a backlash had started against the superficiality of the Rococo style and Neo-Classicism was introduced.
By 1774, the end of the king's reign, Neo-Classicism had become the dominant style and this would continue during the Louis XVI period.
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