How to Tell the Difference in French Louis Chairs!
Hello, my name is Cindy and I am a French chair-oholic!
Yes, it’s true, I feel like I have an addiction to French chairs. At least hubby seems to think so! Which has me wondering lately, if any of you have the same addiction?!?
The French Louis chairs are my weakness, and a quick scroll through any French style magazine leaves no doubt as to the Louis chair’s enduring appeal.
The Louis chair is an icon of French furniture history.
Did you know that there are actually a few different types of Louis chairs?
It took me some time to be able to recognize the difference, so today I’m sharing three styles of Louis chairs, and how you can tell the differences between each one.
By breaking down the key features of each Louis style, it’s easy to know the difference when shopping for a new chair or spotting one at your favorite estate sale.
Once you get the basics, you’ll be able to distinguish a Louis XV chair from a Louis XVI chair with ease!
The first Louis chair you should be familiar with is that of Louis XIV.
Louis XIV was known as the Sun King.
Reigning from 1643 to 1715, he was the mastermind behind the decadence of the Versailles palace, feeling that his surroundings should mirror the divine power of the monarchy itself.
Artists and craftsmen replicated this in furnishings that were highly ornate, often gilded, and very dramatic.
Things to look for in a Louis XIV chair:
- Silhouettes are grand and throne like, with high backs.
- Legs will feature H or X shaped stretchers, resulting in a heavier look.
- Armrests extend to the front edge of the seat, and seat backs are straight and upright.
Of the three, the Louis XIV style is my least favorite.
King Louis XV’s reign was from 1715 to 1774. It aligned with the Rococo period in European art and design. This timeframe was one of extreme wealth, and the distance between the classes was monumental.
France was the most powerful nation on Earth during this time, and in keeping with this, the wealthy demanded bigger and better, which was reflected in their love of organic motifs and intricate ornamentation.
Chair styles became curvier and more comfortable.
Things to look for in a Louis XV chair:
- Seat backs are often rounded and feature curved wood frames, typically with carved decorations and design. Chair legs, set at an angle, are often cabriole, or S-shaped.
- Wooden chair frames often feature a gilded finish.
- Seat backs are sometimes angled for increased comfort. Armrests shorten in length, ending before the edge of the seat.
King Louis XVI was in power from 1774 to 1791, the start of the French Revolution.
The reaction to the over the top ornamentation of the Louis XV era favored a clean and crisp aesthetic, dictating a decorative restraint and an emphasis on clear architectural forms.
Things to look for in a Louis XVI chair:
- Clean lines, geometric shapes, and straight legs are featured in the Louis XVI style. Chairs may feature round, rectangular, or shield shaped upholstered backs.
- Decorative carvings reflect classic motifs such as scrolls, fluting, and ribbon details.
- Armrests meet the front edge of the seat, often ending in a graceful scroll.
Though it can sometimes be confusing, the biggest difference between the three Louis styles is the leg design.
More than anything else, this one characteristic can be relied on for identification, and the leg style is what I always look for in recognizing these French beauties.
I have to say that the Louis XV style is my favorite….there’s just something about those curvy legs that get me every single time. What about you? Which style calls your name?