2.21.2011

Louis XIV and His Furniture, In a Nutshell

Louis XIV. Louis Quatorze. Sun King. French Golden Boy. Leonardo DiCaprio.

Hollywood's golden boy and my mental hook for Louis 14.
I like the song, "Here Comes the Sun" too.

In 1643 Louis Thirteen dies. His son, Louis (aka Leonardo DiCaprio) is only 4 years old. His Mom, Anne of Austria




(actually she's the daughter of the King of Spain) is appointed regent but hands power over to Cardinal Mazarin.

The next 17 years are one expensive war after another. Plus a couple civil ones.

Mazarin dies in 1652. Louis/Leo is now 23 and officially becomes Louis XIV. Mazarin left him with a bankrupt France and unhappy citizens. What's a young King to do? Create jobs; just like James Carville said, it's the economy, stupid.

Royal workshops employ cabinetmakers, carvers, metal smiths, bronze casters, upholsterers, weavers, sculptors, artists galore, and a mirror factory to compete with Venice. All in pursuit of Louis' dream, Versailles.

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles (no lounging about in chairs here)

But, like history, furniture styles evolve from something. We don't go from bankruptcy to the Hall of Mirrors overnight.

Early on, Louis/Leo's chair would have a high back and an "H" stretcher -- just like his dad's, a Louis Thirteen. Homey. Conjures images of sitting by the hearth.

A pair of early Louis 14 style chairs from Trianon Antiques in Boston, walnut, 1900's.
This style of stretcher and foot is called os de mouton, or mutton bone. 
I've grilled many a leg of lamb; I can't recall the bone. I'll pay more attention next time but 
with the grill buried under 4 feet of snow, it won't be soon.


Change the stretcher to an "X", give the carver artistic license, call in the goldsmith for a little gilding, ask the weaver for a fabulous fabric, and voilĂ ! a once ordinary chair is now grand and majestic.


Via Sotheby's Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture. 
We will be hard-pressed to find a chair like this outside of a museum.



In fact, everything and every surface receives the grand and majestic treatment. The Louis/Leo 14 style is really "state" furniture. Never intended for practical use, but to impress visiting ambassadors and remind the aristocracy of who's really in charge.


  
A monumental wardrobe by Andre Charles Boulle, the Louvre.

And he was in charge for more than half a century until he died in 1715.

Two more Louis to go, 15 and Louis Philippe.

What do you think about this style?

I love the chandeliers. And the gloves.

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

if you'd love to have a home you love coming home to, contact me!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting how the government made such an incredibly dramatic statement to the peons by way of furniture, architecture and fabrics.

    ReplyDelete

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