Archeological discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum in the mid 18th-century helped to spark an era of neoclassicism at the court of Louis XVI. Following Roman and Greek ideals, the flowing lines of the rococo were replaced with rectilinear symmetry.
The curved cabriole leg gave way to the fluted leg, a slightly tapered form with vertical ridges reminiscent of a classical column. Greek key motifs, urns, laurels, and other ancient symbols also appeared in carving and marquetry, as well as dentils, pilasters, and other elements from architecture. Bureaus and commodes were often mounted on sharp gilt sabots that glitter against rich exotic woods like pieces of jewelry.
But even though the sinuous shapes and natural references of the rococo fell out of favor, the dedication to comfort and proportion that became popular in the earlier period did not. Chairs remained low, deep, and comfortable and furniture in general retained a graceful scale that gives it such an enduring appeal. When coupled with the restrained geometry of neoclassicism, those proportions created in Louis XVI furniture a delicacy that feels feminine, timeless and is currently sought after.
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