The Louis XVI style fully represents the French Neoclassicism, characterized by the return of the straight line and geometric shapes, and neat decoration with elements that recall classical architecture. This style precedes by a few years the regency of Louis XVI (1774-1793), from which it takes its name.
From the sixties of the eighteenth century, there is a renunciation of rounded shapes in favor of more refined, simple and sober lines. A composure of forms, therefore, is opposed to the complex and bizarre forms of Rococo, which characterize the style known in France as Louis XV Style, which defined the previous era.
The common thread of the Louis XVI style is undoubtedly the reference to classical culture both Greek and Roman. The renewed interest is undoubtedly aroused by the archaeological findings of Herculaneum in 1738 and Pompeii ten years later. Thanks to these findings, the idea of a new perfect model to imitate spreads.
The Louis XVI style furniture
The return to the classic model leads to a preference for geometric composure and symmetrical decorations.
The furniture is elegant, refined and light with a reference to the Louis XIV style. The most popular furniture during this period are undoubtedly the commode and the secrétaire, initially characterized by rich decorations in bronze, mother of pearl or porcelain and then, towards the end of the eighteenth century, characterized instead by decorations with classical inspiration simpler.
The style requires the use of exotic woods such as mahogany and ebony or woods of light colors, such as oak and cherry. The tops of tables, chests of drawers and consoles are then sometimes embellished with marble, preferably light and sometimes covered with silk. The furniture can also be inlaid with draperies, cords and tassels, medallions or cameos. Even the decorations respect the refined and sober style, remaining elegant and light.
Even today, Louis XVI style furniture is synonymous with refinement and balance.
The Louis XVI style furniture
The Louis XVI style furnishings also feature geometric shapes and a refined and elegant taste. They are treated in detail and the technique of realization is impeccable, to make it almost impossible to create copies.
The decorative elements evoke classic themes with geometric patterns or gilt bronze inserts, decidedly soberer and less bizarre compared to the rococo decorations. Inlays and decorations often depict mythological scenes, but there are also floral motifs, garlands or laurel leaves.
The cabinetmaker Giuseppe Maggiolini in Italy
In Italy, one of the greatest cabinetmakers of the Italian neoclassical period is Giuseppe Maggiolini. He is in fact remembered as the “master of marquetry” or better, the “master in cabinet-making”. The name of Maggiolini has always been linked to the cabinet decorations of furniture, including especially bedside tables, cabinets, caskets and box-casket.
He worked for the major families in Milan and also for the major European courts. He specialized mainly in the creation of drawers, reaching the use of almost ninety different types of woods, including mahogany, ebony, maple, olive and hawthorn.
Its furniture, in perfect neoclassical style, is characterized by pure geometric lines that give a sober and refined taste at the same time. Giuseppe Maggiolini is credited with the invention of the bed table, commissioned by the Habsburgs, in particular by the Archduchess Maria Beatrice following an influence.