Reindeer Antiques recently acquired a fine selection of French antique furniture in the Louis XV stlye. During the later 17th Century French daily life was dictacted by a strict formality due to the traditions followed by Louis XIV and his court at Versailles. At Versailles, everything from the toilette ceremony in the morning to the coucher ceremony at night was carried out in front of the public eye. Throughout the Régence and the early 1700s the French began to reject this strict way of life and so there was an increasing desire for intimacy, luxury and comfort in the domestic space.

The French notion of 'commodité' became paramount and the menuisiers and ébénistes responded to this through the emergence of the rocaille or rococo style. The Rococo style is more commonly known in the world of antiques as the Louis XV style, although stylistically it began before and continued long after the political reign of King Louis XV. The Louis XV style was characterised by lighter, more decorative forms, with curved and sinuous lines, asymmetry and an excessive use of ornament based on nature.

The most typical Louis XV chair is the bergère which can be seen here. This style is characterised by a wide, low, deep armchair whose moulded frames are often enhanced with rich flora, foliage and shell carvings. Pierre Verlet has noted that seating was very much dictated by female fashion as a widespread desire for novelty required new forms of dress. From 1718 a full hooped skirt was the height of fashion for French women and as such menuisiers had to heighten the position of the arms on the chair and lower the seat in order to accommodate this.

Here we have a lovely pair of Louis XV style antique open armchairs of generous proportions with walnut showwood frames with acanthus carved downswept arms and an apron which is carved with a central Venus shell flanked by acanthus scrolls. This is raised on cabriole legs which are carved with a cabuchon to the knee and terminate in acanthus carved French scroll toes which are common features of antique Louis XV furniture.

Tables also became much lighter and simpler in style with cabriole legs and bombé forms. Both the following are small yet very versatile antique side tables which could easily be moved around the interior without the help of a servant thus granting people more privacy.

Here is a pair of late 19th Century Louis XV style kingwood veneered side tables: with a lovely geometrically veneered top above a frieze drawer which is raised on cabriole legs.

During the Louis XV period there was a greater variety of native and exotic woods available to craftsmen. Here we have an elegant pair of antique Louis XV style kingwood veneered and ormolu mounted side tables of bombé form. The well figured top is banded with ormolu above three frieze drawers and raised on cabriole legs terminating in ormolu mounts. Interestingly, one table is mid- Eighteenth Century and the other is a late Nineteenth Century copy. In the 1800s it was actually quite common to copy examples of 18th Century furniture. In fact the 4th Marquess of Hertford whose collection now forms the majority of The Wallace Collection in London had the cabinet-maker John Webb make him no fewer than 7 copies of French 18th Century furniture and in some instances the Marquess paid as much, if not more, for copies as for original pieces.

If you are looking to add a touch of French luxury, comfort and glamour to your interior we can highly recommend one of these fine pieces of antique French Louis XV furniture.



June 04, 2014 — Peter Alexander