The Louis XVI furniture era in some ways was a rather dramatic change, bringing on a more delicate and dainty appearance to the style of furniture. However, some of the characteristics of Louis XVI furniture were brought forward from the previous Louis styles.
What to Look for in Louis XVI Furniture
- The structure of Louis XVI furniture evolved into a more linear and rectangular style giving up the ostentatious curves and bows of the previous Louis styles.
- The legs were mostly straight, either being reeded, turned and fluted or turned and spiral.
- Classicism returned, although it was more naïve than that of the Brothers Adam and often appears dainty and somewhat playful.
- Generally speaking, all the elements were fine and dainty, perhaps appearing more so following the Louis XIV and Louis XV eras.
- Ornament changed dramatically from the two previous periods. It became far more subtle. The depictions were of cherubs, nymphs, birds and pastoral scenes.
- Flat surfaces on cabinets were often framed by straight borders or parallel borders rather than ornament.
- Bisymmetric balance returned.
- The colors tended toward the pastels with lots of neutrals, again a departure from the previous eras.
- Furniture was often painted. In fact, more furniture was painted during this era than any other period.
- The overall style is definitely feminine, being dainty and in many cases the pieces were smaller.
- Mahogany was the wood of preference although all woods were used.
- Upholstery fabrics were mostly brocades, as in the two previous eras, but with smaller and quieter designs.
See examples below: