Period Styles Reign
CHALLENGE: There seems to
be a lot of interest among designers and clients these days in decorating
and designing rooms in themes from important historical periods
such as Louis XV, Art Nouveau and many 19th-century classics. A
particular client of mine is obsessed with the Louis XV style.
Could you please offer some information on styles, decorative motifs
and any additional information on architectural styles used during
the reign of Louis XV that would assist me in talking with my client
and choosing appropriate furnishings for her home?
SOLUTION: The age of Louis XV
seems to be a transition period between Rococo and Neoclassicism.
Louis XV was very interested in the fashion of his wardrobe and
the furniture in his chateaux.
Fashion commanded the most important place in furniture and interior
design during this period. Furnishings such as chairs reflected
the apparel fashion of the period, as the gowns worn by women demanded
the arm of a chair to be placed farther back so the gown’s
ample folds of silk would set gracefully over the petit-point tapestry
that adorned the seats.
Rocaille, the leading motif of the Louis XV style, is defined as
ornamental design derived from motifs found in nature. The exaggerated
interpretation of the Rocaille motif was called Rococo. This is
a very important point in recreating the authentic look of the period
for your client.
The furniture of the Louis XV period included comfort and convenience.
The rooms consisted of carved wood panels that would surround the
bronze, lacquer and gold work that appeared on the furniture. Padded
silk and brocade along with tapestries adorned every room. A chair
designed by Louis Delanois called the marquise a gondole is an excellent
example of chair styles of this period. Small writing-tables, one
in particular designed by A.F. Delorme in the second half of the
18th century, is one of my favorites. The legs were curved and splayed
with the use of intricately inlaid woods.
Each piece of furniture was detailed in a manor beyond comprehension.
The previous reign of Louis XIV and the Regency period reflected
on this era. The lighter Rococo decoration was also used throughout
The J. Paul Getty Museum in California exhibits some excellent examples
of furniture from this period. Its Web address is: www.getty.edu
and by accessing the site you will be able to view some of the incredible
furniture from this time period.
Decorative accents such as vertical striped wallpaper in neutral
tones, along with wainscoting also were used. Very elaborate carved
panels adorned the walls. Screens consisted of very richly carved
frames. The variety of decorative accessories made this period stand
out more than any other to this point. Soft paste porcelain in pink,
green, blue and gold adorned many tabletops, desks and additional
pieces of furniture. Porcelain pieces would consist of cups and
saucers, milk jugs, vases, soup tureens and plates.
As for the window treatments of this period, soft curved designs
played a very important role. Some rooms included heavy, deep colored
pleated velvets, while others included soft swags and cornices.
Versailles, residence of the monarch, was a model palace that was
replicated by every European sovereign.
As for some of the architecture during the period when Louis XV
began his reign, architects stopped using brick for facade and used
fine gray or yellow cast stone. Robert de Cotte was a very important
architect of this period, and you may want to research some of his
buildings to get a feel for the architecture during this period.
Another fine example of architecture during this period is the stairway
at the Hotel de Ville, situated in the Place Stanislas. It was built
by Emmanuel Here in 1751. The grand stairway spirals up on two sides.
The top of the stairway is completed by a beautiful set of arched
windows that are inset. The ceiling is very decorative in detailed
I hope these descriptions have painted a picture for you of the
Louis XV period. Please be sure to visit the J. Paul Getty Web site
for excellent examples from this period.
Editor’s note: If you have a question you would like Anderson
to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential and
commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty member
at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured in
numerous books and publications.