Monday, January 24, 2011

The Louis XVI Chair

The list of Louis peppering French history is long. Five have furniture named after them: the Louis XIII, XIV, XV,  XVI and Louis-Philippe.

I think the easiest one to recognize is Louis 16. The one married to Kirsten Dunst?

Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI's Queen.

I like the number instead of Louis' Roman Numerals. No one has complained (so far), and after all these years my brain does not instantly register XVI as 16.

To identify a Louis 16 style chair or bench, check the leg first. Stick straight, a slight taper, more often than not, fluted.

A 16's chair back will be flatish, round or square. The frame of the back is frequently carved.

A reproduction of a Tilliard chair from Artistic Frame.
Let me know who focuses on the fabric first, or the frame first.

Or sometimes not.
Another Artistic Frame chair. I like the light finish with the black leather upholstery.
No nonsense, slightly masculine, nice lines.
Although this chair looks a tad stern, the pitch of the back would make it a comfortable dining chair.

Arm chairs have little pads.

Antique from Glustin, Paris

And a "square block" at the top of the leg where it meets the rail which is almost always carved with a flower, acanthus leaves, a diamond or disk:

also from Glustin, Paris

From Ave Home.

Lastly, if all the above plus it looks like it may not be the most comfortable chair in the room, then a Louis 16 it is.

Contemporary interpretations of 16's add cushions, thank you, an ottoman, also very nice, a light waxed or painted finish, a restrained use of gold gilding, or none at all.

 From Decorative Crafts.

All of these tweaks lend Louis 16 a very livable style that mixes well with modern.

Atlanta designer Kathryn Williams' triplets hanging out in the living room. Via Traditional Home.

A very calm palette. A great example of mixing modern with traditional styles.

Technically, Ms. Williams' chairs are Gustavian. Traditional Home explains that Sweden's King Gustav III, a contemporary of Louis the 16th, loved the style, commissioned furniture from Swedish cabinet makers who promptly lightened up the look, but kept the lines.

What's your take on 16 style? Love it? Hate it? Own it?

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

1 comment:

  1. I have always loved this furniture, though to be sure it does not look very inviting for long enough to read or relax. Rather, I sort of admire it's haughty condescension, especially toward lesser, opposite furniture like a classic American La-Z-Boy. Whereas the Louis 16 is the equivalent of a well-postured, patient guest sipping a delightful aperitif in a well-lit salon, the overstuffed La-Z-Boy represents a post-barbecue, sticky-palmed redneck with a body-mass index of at least 31 crashing out for a nap in a dingy trailer. The Louis' sustaineded appeal in better design and pop-culture reveal the continued chasm between those who wish to be surrounded by beauty and light, and those who shop at Slumberland. Vive le France.


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