Neo-Classicism: A Time of Refined Opulence

The emergence of Neo-Classicalism in France came during Louis XVI reign from 1774 - 1789, it offered a more refined style following the heavier, grandeurs curves of the early 1700’s Rococo style. Neo classical designs were influenced by the themes of the ancient Roman villas in Pompeii and Herculaneum. This prompted architectural style to focus on the principal of symmetry-clean lines and geometric designs resembling that of classical motifs.

Artisans used thin pieces of wood and arranged them in geometric designs, chair backs were rectangular or oval with tapered fluted legs as seen below with our Louis XVI Style Side Chairs.

Pair of Louis XVI Style side chairs rectangular back centred with ribbon crest and turned fluted legs. French, late 19th century

Fabrics were also resemblant of clean lines and patterns, with striped and toile de jouy upholsteries. Below a contemporary take on a traditional fabric by Dedar, Italy. 

A Louis XVI style Carved and Painted Settee

During the reign of Louis XVI, he and his wife Marie Antoinette oversaw the most influential and prominent developments in art and design and were avid encouragers of the neo-classical style. The return to more simpler styles and congruous lines causing a restraint on heavy ornamental finishes. Their interiors were flushed with pieces inspired by columns and would often have inward tapering. Freizes and pediments were elegantly incorporated into the furniture design. Gilding techniques of applying finely ground gold, also known as ormolu, were a present distinction on furniture and mirrors making bespoke pieces one of a kind.

A fine pair of ebonised Louis XVI style bedside tables


A Louis XVI period carved and giltwood mirror

Centuries later the luxury, elegance and romantic Neoclassical design is still prominent in today’s interiors. The design schemes of sophistication are continuously being used to elevate different landscapes. If you are interested in bringing neoclassicism to your room by adjusting the space’s architectural elements, feel free to touch base with us at The Vault to have a look at our pieces of French antiques.


Words by Christina Annaheim

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