Thursday, April 29, 2010

French Elements

I found these gorgeous French inspired collage bottles created by 'The French Elements' whose aim is to bring the past into the present in all their little creations. So pretty and unique! You can find them at

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beautiful Bench

I while ago I posted about the origins of this beautiful 19th century bench. I've just had cushions done for it and photographed it one last time before it goes out today...and now alas I have to say goodbye!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

French Empire - Why the materials changed...

You learn a new thing every day! It's all about supply and demand - even 2 or 3 hundred years.

The fashion world, both clothes design and interior design have always been shaped by social influences and interestingly antiques are no exception. It was not simply that they woke up one day and decided that they preferred different timber and design.

There were obviously many well documented social influences on French Empire Furniture such as archaeological and architectural aspects of the Roman Empire, but today I learned something that is perhaps not so commonly known.

The Napoleonic era, French Empire is famous for simpler furniture designs and use of local materials such as brass as opposed to designs that came before it which were predominantly made up of foreign timbers and mounts.

One of the reasons for this? Many of the exotic timbers used for elaborate inlays, in English and French furniture design in the 18th century were imported from the West Indies. During the Napoleonic Wars, there was a battle between France and England to control the entrance to the English Shipping Channel. As a result, the waring countries went to great lengths to prevent enemy ships from passing through the channel and as such, the foreign timber supply became scarce.

This in turn affected furniture design and both France and England were forced to use brass and other local materials to decorate furniture instead of the exotic timbers and metals once used during the Louis periods.

These are some photos of French Empire furniture and their respective metalwork and complexity relative to an earlier piece.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

French Detail

I've been watching our restorer do up this Louis XVI French centre table for a client. I bought it in the south of France last time I was there and fell in love, as I do with most of it. No matter how many times I see it, I can't get over the detail and time they invested in creating these pieces. It's just beautiful!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Louis XVI

So often people come in and ask if we have a Louis chair or a Louis table. Louis XV or Louis XVI I ask? Oh just Louis they say. So for those that aren't sure of the difference, a few pointers in Louis XVI...
First of all, curves were not used excessively in the legs as with Louis XV, in fact quite the opposite. For those that love the beautiful French painted furniture around the place, Louis XVI should be your first stop! Marie Antoinette greatly influenced art during this period, and this influence was also felt in the furniture of the period. A slightly more severe style came into vogue. It was the first time in history that chairs were used for purely ornamental reasons.

Look out for...
  • Straight, tapering 'fluted' legs is classic for this period rather than the curved cabriole leg of Louis XV;
  • Gilt was replaced in many instances with 'paint', (coloured french polish) and gilt was used as relief rather than across entire pieces of furniture;
  • Louis XVI was still a period of opulence, and marquetry designs were used banded in geometric shapes;
  • Chair seats were generally trapezoidal and the backs were carved with lyre, vases and flowers.

Take a look at the typically French Louis XVI Chairs above!