February 26, 2017

17th Century French World of Interiors

In the quest to learn how to recognise the different periods of French furniture through the knowledge of the symbols and codes that distinguish each style I signed up for yet another tour. I would come to understand what techniques differentiate the master ebonist from the cabinet-makers and hear which were the various influences and where they came from. Before this tour I hadn't even considered at which point in time comfort and function became as important as style and image.

Well, I was taught that looking closely at the creations of famous French ebonists, one can read in them their account of the fashions, the social habits and the cultural legacy of the previous centuries. The pronounced taste of the Ancien Régime's nobility for luxury didn't prevent wide variations from over-elaborated magnificence to neo-classical austerity. The solemnity of Louis XIII creations was followed by Louis XIV elegant interiors, which soon gave way to the refreshing charms of the Rococo rooms, before the whimsical curves bowed to the supreme elegance of the neo-Pompeian styles: in other words, a feast of interior designing!

Who knew the superbly restored Musée des arts décoratives could dazzles the visitor with its extensive furniture collection set in original period rooms, many of them transposed here with all their original contents. It was just a question of finding the right guide, a lady of Greek origins with big long blond locks and an incredible knowledge of France's history, art, aristocracy, architecture, social and economic background as well as its past and present foes and allies.

Pretty funky staircase for the Pavillon of Marsans
(part of the Palais du Louvre's western wing)

My favourite arrangement of furniture

How to show off the foreign influences without loosing the "French touch"

How many drawers do you think this cupboard has?

Starting to see more curves than lines

He seemed like a jolly fella

A marble fire place mantel 

Interesting choice of disposition and wall colour

Intricate detail of woodwork 

Ebony and Ivory in geometrical harmony

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