Furniture History: the Rococo Style

In our continuation of our Furniture History series, today we delve into the world of Rococo furniture. Rococo was an 18th century art movement originated in France at the height of its monarchy. The influence of French furniture was predominant in Europe at this time and French designs were widely imitated.

Rococo painting

What’s interesting about the Rococo style is that it originated as a backlash against the rigid and heavy style of the Baroque.

Although also a complicated style, Rococo is viewed as more graceful and light than the Baroque. The main characteristics were the use of fluid lines and curves, ornate designs and patterns based on flowers, vines and shells.

Door with Rococo-esque detail

The use of sinuous, curvilinear forms and asymmetrical designs was introduced en masse in the production of furniture for the Royal and aristocratic classes.

We must highlight here the importance of Juste-Aurèle Meissonier. Meissonier was a goldsmith to king Louis XV, a sculptor and an architect. His role in creating the Rococo was immense as he developed artistic features to be abundantly found in Rococo furniture and interior design: the C-scroll, scrolled foliage and floral motifs, to name a few.

Commode by André Charles Boulle

One of the most popular pieces of this time was the bombé commode. A chest of drawers often with a marble top and with a surface enriched with finely modelled ormolu mounts.

The use of marquetry in decoration also gained importance. Furniture was often decorated with marquetry of floral or geometric patterns combined with ormolu mounts.

Rococo-esque commode

In painting as in interior design, Rococo represented a certain lightness of heart and delicacy with its intricate ornamentation, fluidity of movement, playfulness and choice of intimate mythological scenes, love scenes and images of daily life.

Rococo style in painting. The Shepherdess from Jean-Honoré Fragonard

The love of luxury and exuberance characteristic of the 18th century French monarchy, before the French Revolution (1789) still lives in the European collective imagination to this day. Not strangely than, every act of daily life performed by an aristocrat was catered to by some specialized piece of furniture or object designed for that act alone. Basic furniture pieces like chairs, tables, wardrobes, etc were designed and decorated in innumerable forms.

The cabinet makers imagination had no boundaries during this time.


Source of information:

1. Encyclopedia Britanicca