Friday, January 18, 2008

Young Louis XVI

He was called "Berry" until after his father died in 1765, and then Louis-Auguste assumed the title of the Dauphin. Here are some pages about the education of Louis XVI from Dr. Hardman's biography, based upon the very thorough research of the Coursacs. Louis-Auguste was without doubt a well-read, curious and intellectually precocious child. A site dedicated to the Expiatory Chapel in Paris has this to say:
A sciences and geography buff, Louis XVI was also passionate about history. A book filled him with enthusiasm as a small child and he kept it by his side till death: The History of England by David Hume. His admiration was such that he told the English philosopher so in a little compliment of his devising when he happened to be at Versailles - the young prince was nine years old.

The simple tastes of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette influenced furniture and architectural designs. As an article on the Louis XVI style says:
Marie Antionette was but fifteen years old when in 1770 she came to France as a bride, and it is hardly reasonable to think that the taste of a young girl would have originated a great period of decoration, although the idea is firmly fixed in many minds. It is known that the transition period was well advanced before she became queen, but there is no doubt that her simpler taste and that of Louis led them to accept with joy the classical ideas of beauty which were slowly gaining ground. As dauphin and dauphiness they naturally had a great following, and as king and queen their taste was paramount, and the style became established.

Architecture became more simple and interior decoration followed suit. The restfulness and beauty of the straight line appeared again, and ornament took its proper place as a decoration of the construction, and was subordinate to its design. During the period of Louis XVI the rooms had rectangular panels formed by simpler moldings than in the previous reign, with pilasters of delicate design between the panels. The overdoors and mantels were carried to the cornice and the paneling was usually of oak, painted in soft colors or white and gilded. Walls were also covered with tapestry and brocade. Some of the most characteristic marks of the style are the straight tapering legs of the furniture, usually fluted, with some carving. Fluted columns and pilasters often had metal quills filling them for a part of the distance at top and bottom, leaving a plain channel between. The laurel leaf was used in wreath form, and bell flowers were used on the legs of furniture. Oval medallions, surmounted by a wreath of flowers and a bow-knot, appear very often, and in about 1780 round medallions were used. Furniture was covered with brocade or tapestry, with shepherds and shepherdesses or pastoral scenes for the design. The gayest kinds of designs were used in the silks and brocades; ribbons and bow-knots and interlacing stripes with flowers and rustic symbols scattered over them. Curtains were less festooned and cut with great exactness. The canopies of beds became smaller, until often only a ring or crown held the draperies, and it became the fashion to place the bed side-ways, " vu de face."


Anonymous said...

I was perusing a copy of 'Architectural Digest',and found it interesting how, in this Century, many of the featured homes displayed decor influenced by that period.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, it was quite pervasive, and the elegant simplicity of the lines in contrast to what came before and after.