The many ways to Louis XV

Art History Decor Decorative Arts Furniture History

Just as there are many ways to love, many ways to travel to the same place or many ways to enjoy mangoes, there are many ways to employ the Louis XV style.

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A quintessential Louis XV bureau de dame in the style of Zweiner Jansen Successeur. Adorable brass cast putti whisper their secrets to their faithful companion, alluding to the private nature of a lady's desk. The desk features three private compartments and a hidden drawer, along with a secret nook tucked in somewhere, for the romantic or the nefarious. Click on the photos to explore. 


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Apart from lending his name to the style of the age, Louis the Beloved had perhaps less to do with this style than those at his court, specially his mistresses. In the years before Louis XV came of age, France was under the Regency of Phillipe II, which marked the early Rococo style in art.

Previously, Louis XIV's regime had been marked by strict adherence to the uncompromising Versailles etiquette. As a part of the propaganda around the Sun King, heavy classical motifs were employed to express grandeur and divine kingship. By the time of his death, Louis XIV had been successful in his mission and aristocratic life and power in France was largely centralised at Versailles, with the King at the centre of this system. This allowed his successors to ease the protocol, which gradually gave way to a more casual and relaxed court life and a more excessive lifestyle.


A jardiniere is the most elegant way of bringing greenery into the house. This one features true marquetry in three woods and custom brass mounts with pied de biche feet. Click on the photos to explore.

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Court life moved from the formal salons of Versailles to the more private royal apartments where etiquette was relaxed. In art, this is reflected in the softer Rococo flourishes, Louis XV curves and overall lightness compared to the Louis XIV style. Formal symmetry of form was maintained but the motifs were replaced by the vivacious rocaille. Louis XV pieces are iconised by the curved leg. The commode was invented with its serpentine shape. Louis XV bergère seats were designed to accommodate the growing panniers of the age, and at a reclining angle too. At the same time, the very light en cabriolet represented the zeitgeist of court life. Satinwood leant its exquisite sheen to the marquetry of the age. As furniture transformed into art, furniture makers started becoming known and stamping their work with their names. These stamped pieces of well-known names are covetable antiques today

Among the mistresses of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour is revered in art history as a great patron of the arts and tastemaker of the age. She was most notable for her patronage of the porcelain industry in France, whose conception and commission was almost entirely owed to her. She is recognised for the development of the Rococo style, which continues to be associated with the image of France. It was under her patronage that French industries came to be analogous with fine taste and luxury. She also patronised artists like Boucher and encouraged the development of pastoral styles, classicism and French idealism. She entertained the most well-known enlightenment thinkers in her famed salons, and patronised print and literature as well.

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Apart from court furniture, the Louis XV era saw an elevation of country pieces as well. Though nowhere close to the craftsmanship of Versailles or Paris, country furniture saw an amelioration nonetheless. Principles of form and proportion were better understood, and even the simpler country styles became more refined and polished. Among the dilettante needlework that graced country seating, some of the more well-preserved examples have even made their ways to museums. Aristocratic life also began to move away from Versailles and country manoirs and châteaux experienced a revival. 

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