French Furniture Styles

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Dazzle Vintage Furniture specialises in sourcing and selling authentic French armoires and antique mirrors. We have a passion for French craftsmanship and design and want to share the beauty of original pieces.
This is a very brief guide to the world of French furniture, covering some of the the various styles a buyer is most likely to encounter.   
 
 

French furniture styles


As in British furniture each era generated a wealth of styles. Confusingly, unlike Victorian and Edwardian furniture, styles named after royalty don't necessarily date to individual reigns. Many overlap and have sub-divisions of styles, being sometimes more of a subtle evolution, than a revolution. 

Louis - Probably the most recognisable, influencing modern British reproduction 'French style furniture'. Original Louis XV pieces date from around 1730 onwards, evolving into the Louis XVI style, beginning around 1760. These two styles of furniture often get grouped together under the simple umbrella of 'Louis'. Much of the French Louis style furniture on the market today dates from the mid 20th Century. Notable features include curved lines, cabriole feet and decorative motifs dominated by shell designs, birds and floral carvings.
 
Henri II (1860-1900) - Also known as French Renaissance, Henri II furniture is notable for its size and solidity. Pieces tend to be huge and rectangular in composition, with heavy carving, dark wood and large bun feet. Armoires are notable for their often elaborate cornices with large finials and crests, and show a strong Italian influence in their carving and design. Mirrors and beds tend to be very ornate, with carved pillars and finials. Armoires have either solid wooden doors or glass mirror doors. 

Provincial/Country - Provincial furniture was made in the provinces, as opposed to the furniture made for the King and court in Paris. Court fashions often took a while to filter to the provinces, and as result French provincial furniture displays an array of overlapping styles. Most notable are pieces showing the influence of the countryside - woven rush chairs and simplified carving representing wheatsheaves and foliage. Pieces tend to be highly rustic in finish and style but beautifully made. Most notable are the huge armoires which are fully knockdown and held together with chunky, hand made wooden pegs. 

Breton - Breton furniture is highly distinctive. Often made of heavy, dark oak and highly carved, with fretwork a notable feature. Squares and rectangles predominate, with intensely carved human figures and faces, animals, plants and ships wheels. Maritime motifs also predominate, reflecting Brittany's close association with the sea. Armoires are often shorter than other styles and many come as bedroom sets with matching beds and pot cupboards. 
 
Louis Philippe - Louis Philippe style French furniture emulates the furniture popular during the reign of Louis Philippe I (1830-1848). Known as the 'Citizen King', he was a popular figurehead, leading a less than lavish lifestyle. Similarly the furniture named after him is beautiful for its simplicity. These pieces epitomise elegance and tend to be less ornate and more refined than other styles. Armoires are recognisable by their wide cornice, tall body and raised feet. Like the Louis style, these are much imitated, but originals tend to be beautifully constructed and cleverly fully knockdown.
 


 
 
Art Deco (1920s - 1940s) - The Art Deco movement first appeared in France during the 1920s. Reflecting a new modern era, Deco embraced geometric forms such as rectangles and zig zags. French Deco furniture is often quite chunky, with chunky feet, geometric lines but also strong floral motifs that are far bolder and heavier than previously seen. 


Dazzle Vintage Furniture

We sell all kinds of authentic French vintage and antique furniture. Check our Ebay listings or visit our website to see our current stock. All our furniture is sourced in France. 
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