One of the questions that I get asked most often is how to recognize Louis XV and XVI furniture.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I’m completely smitten with this style of furniture, especially furniture from the Louis XV period. Today I thought I would share some tips on how to recognize Louis XV furniture.
How to Recognize Louis XV Furniture: A Guide for Beginners
If you’re an antique lover and you love scouring antique stores, flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales, and antique markets, then I’m sure you have come across Louis XV style furniture even though you may not have recognized it.
Louis XV furniture is a style that was popularized during the reign of King Louis XV of France. This style of furniture was a reflection of the luxurious lifestyle of the French aristocracy during this period, and it remains a popular choice today for those who appreciate its timeless beauty.
Furniture makers of this period were skilled at creating pieces that were both elegant and functional, and were often commissioned by royalty and other wealthy patrons.
Louis XV style furniture is known for its elegance, curves, and ornate decoration. Recognizing Louis XV furniture can be easy just by keeping a few key features in mind.
Key Features of Louis XV Furniture
One of the most notable features of Louis XV furniture is its curves.
This style of furniture is characterized by its sinuous lines and flowing curves, which are often seen in the curvy cabriole legs of tables and chairs, as well as in the arms and backs of sofas and armchairs.
Another key feature of Louis XV furniture is its ornate decoration.
Louis XV furniture is often adorned with intricate carvings, gilding, and marquetry, which can be seen in the details of the legs, arms, and backs of chairs and sofas, as well as in the surfaces of tables and cabinets.
Recognizing Louis XV furniture can be a rewarding for those who appreciate the elegance and beauty of this style. By paying attention to its curves and ornate decoration, it is possible to easily identify the Louis XV style and appreciate its unique characteristics and classic beauty.
I have a well known weakness for Louis XV style chairs, and when I find them at a good price, it’s really hard for me to walk away from them. Especially those that are made of gilded wood. This antique Louis XV child’s chair was a true unicorn! I still can’t believe that I found one on Facebook Marketplace after searching for one for almost 12 years!
Even though it’s diminutive in size, you can see that this sweet child size chair exhibits the key features of the Louis XV style in it’s curvy cabriole legs and the carved ornate detail on the back and front of the seat.
History of Louis XV Furniture
Louis XV furniture was developed during the reign of King Louis XV, who ruled France from 1715 to 1774. As you can see, ol’ King Louis definitely had a sense of style!
This era of furniture was a departure from the formal and rigid furniture styles that had been so popular in the previous centuries, and was characterized by its lightness, elegance, and grace.
I’ve always felt that Louis XV furniture is a bit flirty and feminine with it’s curvy and ornate features. Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite style.
The Louis XV style was heavily influenced by the Rococo movement (an exceptionally ornamental and dramatic style), which was characterized by its ornate and decorative design. Rococo was popular throughout Europe in the 18th century, and Louis XV furniture was one of its most notable expressions.
Louis XV furniture remained popular throughout the 18th century, and continued to influence furniture design well into the 19th century.
It’s a beautiful and highly decorative style and even to this day, it is highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. It’s considered one of the most important and influential furniture styles in history and it’s influence can still be seen in furniture design today.
This pair of Louis XV gilt wood chairs are one of my favorite purchases. When I found them over ten years ago at a local antique market, they had been redone in upholstery grade burlap, giving them a modern day French Country look. They are a substantial size and make quite a statement in any room they’re in.
I’ve used them as captain’s chairs at the dining table in the past, but today they grace our living room.
Louis XV furniture is often made from high-quality materials such as mahogany, walnut, oak, and rosewood, and is adorned with decorative elements such as gilt bronze mounts, marquetry, and carved details in the wood.
These woods were often chosen for their durability and beauty.
Walnut was a popular choice for the frames of chairs and tables, while mahogany was often used for larger pieces such as armoires and cabinets. Oak and walnut was also used for larger pieces, but was more commonly used for the frames of chairs and other seating furniture.
A few years ago I found this amazing French Louis XV Vaisselier.
It’s made of walnut and is very heavy. I found it at an antique shop in Pensacola, FL from a gentleman that was going out of business and had everything marked on sale, so I was able to get it for a song! Notice the iconic Louis XV carvings and curvy legs.
Beautiful, elegant chairs are often a hallmark of Louis XV style furniture. Maybe that’s why I’m slightly addicted to them!
They are characterized by their curved cabriole legs,intricate carvings, and gorgeous upholstery.
Louis XV chairs are typically armchairs with cabriole legs, while sofas and chaises lounges feature curved frames.
Another one of my favorite Louis XV estate sale finds is this chair upholstered in turquoise velvet. The frame is a very simple Louis XV style, but note that it still has the curvy cabriole legs and simple carvings in the wood.
Louis XV cabinets, dressers, and other furniture pieces that have drawers or compartments for storage will be known for their curved lines, intricate carvings, and gorgeous hardware.
Some of the most common pieces include commodes, armoires, and secretaries. Commodes are typically low chests of drawers with curved legs, while armoires are tall cabinets with doors and shelves for storage. They all will have curvy cabriole legs.
I found this fabulous Louis XV armoire in Montgomery, AL.
It was also from a vendor that was downsizing their booth and they had it marked on sale for a great price. It’s the perfect piece to house the television in our bedroom.
I have a second Louis XV armoire in our living room. This piece was purchased from a dear friend of mine that was downsizing. I fell in love with it because it still has it’s original paint in pale shades of blue.
Of course, no conversation about Louis XV style commodes would be complete without showing my infamous blue buffet!
And, our most recent project was the makeover of this French buffet.
Notice the commonalities in all of these pieces.
Louis XV furniture was often upholstered in luxurious fabrics such as silk, velvet, and damask.
These fabrics were typically chosen for their rich colors and textures, and were often paired with decorative trims and tassels. Furniture makers of this period were also known for their use of intricate embroidery and needlework, which was often used to embellish upholstered pieces.
Louis XV furniture is characterized by curved forms, lightness, comfort, and asymmetry. It replaced the more formal, boxlike, and massive furniture of the Louis XIV period.
In summation, Louis XV furniture is known for its intricate details and ornate designs. The details commonly found in this style of furniture:
- Curved lines: Louis XV furniture is characterized by its soft, flowing curves. Chairs, sofas, and tables often have sinuous lines and asymmetrical shapes.
- Carvings: The furniture is often adorned with intricate carvings of flowers, leaves, and other organic shapes. These carvings are typically shallow and delicate, adding to the lightness of the overall design.
- Gilt accents: Many pieces of Louis XV furniture are finished with gilded accents, such as gold leaf or gold paint. These accents add a touch of luxury and elegance to the pieces.
- Cabriole legs: One of the most distinctive features of Louis XV furniture is the cabriole leg. This leg is curved in two directions, with a convex curve at the top and a concave curve at the bottom.
- Marquetry: Louis XV furniture often features marquetry, which is the art of inlaying small pieces of wood, metal, or other materials into a larger surface to create a decorative pattern or image.
- Upholstery: The upholstery of Louis XV furniture is typically made of luxurious fabrics such as silk, velvet, or brocade. It is often tufted or ruffled, adding to the overall softness and comfort of the piece.
I hope this will help you to recognize Louis XV furniture! The next time you’re out antiquing, keep an eye out for those curvy cabriole legs and carved details! Next time, I’ll share tips on recognizing the Louis XVI style, so stay tuned!