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The History of Rococo Furniture, and How to Identify It

Rococo Furniture HistoryThe Rococo style of furniture and design was born against the formal and austere look of the Baroque era.  After French monarch Louis XIV’s death in 1715, Rococo-style characteristics ushered in optimism with light, feminine touches including shell and floral motifs. The Rococo era was marked by a newfound enjoyment of life, and the furniture and art of the time reflected that.  Artisans traded in the regal sobriety of the Baroque for a softer, more playful aesthetic.  It is commonly referred to as the Louis XV style, though there was a much broader European influence.

While Rococo-style furniture is still opulent, the color palette is much lighter and uses pastel colors instead of dark, symmetrical Baroque features. Baroque furniture used excessive and heavy gold, dramatic shadows, and depicted serious scenes in its carvings.  History’s best Rococo furniture makers used elements to create lighter airy themes with s-curved cabriole legs, organic themes like gardens, seashells, and vines.

You will also find that Rococo furniture is asymmetrical, in a more whimsical fashion.  Legs, armrests, and backs are often gilded, but not as heavily laden as previous styles.

Rococo in Art and Other Media

The Rococo style was not only popular in furniture; It was popularized in painting, architecture, sculpture, and other decorative arts. While Rococo began in Paris in the early 18th century, the design was adopted throughout France and other European countries soon after.

You can find pristine examples of French Rococo architecture and interior design at the Salon de Monsieur le Prince in Petit Chateau at Chantilly and the salons of the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris. These structures manifest Rococo style in their design, furniture, and art.

Rococo Furniture Characteristics

The Rococo style of furniture came into style in 1715 when it replaced Baroque, but was quickly overshadowed by Neo-classicism and a resurgence of Greco-Roman design. However, Rococo furniture had a revival in the 1840s and was produced during the Victorian era until the 1870s. So how can you identify a Rococo or Rococo-revival style furniture piece?

  • C- and S- curves, soft lines
  • Upholstered seats that includes interior springs and chair arms
  • Curved cabriole legs, usually on casters
  • Woods such as rosewood, walnut, and mahogany
  • Ornate carvings of natural, organic scenes
  • Marble tabletops

If you have a piece of Rococo furniture that needs refinishing, Aaron’s Touch Up has the knowledge and expertise to handle antique furniture restoration. This French style is still popular in homes today, though it requires more maintenance than other antiques.

The characteristics of Rococo furniture are beautiful and elaborate. It represents freedom and creativity from previous staid styles. With flowing curves and organic motifs, the Rococo style of furniture is a rejection of rules and a desire for leisure and comfort. Bring that into your life with refinishing services from Aaron’s Touch Up and Restoration.

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