When you hear the words Rococo furniture, what image do they conjure up for you? The state apartments in the Palace of Versailles or the bedroom of the French king's celebrated mistress? The intricate work of the famous English cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale or the elaborate drawing room confections of eighteenth century French ébonistes like Antione Gaudreau? Some of these images would be right, others not quite. Read on! The Palace of Versailles was built by the French King Louis XIV. the famous Sun King, and is indeed well known for its opulence and the intricacy of its exteriors and interiors, but the style of Versailles is Baroque. Rococo is a later trend, developed in the time of the Sun King's successor Louis XV, as a reaction to the constraints imposed on architects and designers by the strict rules of Baroque design. The notorious courtesan, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquisse de Pompadour, was a big fan of the new style so award yourself a point if you chose her over Louis XIV's sumptuous palace. Did you pick Chippendale for the second question? Not a bad guess, because he was much influenced by the French design, but British rococo avoided the intricate excesses of the French style. Perhaps he thought all those curves and mountings were just too sexy for the staid English temperament. So another point of you went for the French ébonistes, many of whom were originally German. Could their wedding cake styles have been a celebration of their escape to freedom in the land of wicked permissiveness?

What do Rococo Items Look Like?

Rococo is a style which was applied widely: in architecture, in art, and in furniture. But it was above all an interior fashion. This was because, after the death of Louis XIV, French high society moved back to Paris, a city already crowded with buildings.

With no opportunity to express themselves in new building, all the artistic imagination and effort was directed towards the inside of what was already built. This was because, after the death of Louis XIV, French high society moved back to Paris, a city already crowded with buildings. With no opportunity to express themselves in new building, all the artistic imagination and effort was directed towards the inside of what was already built.

And what an imagination! Wide use was made of S and C asymmetric curves, gilt-bronze (called ormalu), surfaces curved in three dimensions (bombé), and the use of inlaid veneers (marquetry). Everthing had to be irregular. For the rococo designer and craftsman, it was a cardinal sin to leave a straight line or a square corner anywhere. Another feature in chairs and sofas was upholstery, with elaborate patterned fabric which could be changed to suit the season and the design of the rooms.

Collecting Rococo

Rococo is unique stylish furniture which is combining the wild imagination of designers and high level of skills of the craftsmen who made the items. All passionate collectors could find the right item from that style which will garnish their collection.

Genuine 18th century pieces are hard to find, but there is a supply of later reproduction or in the style pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries.

You're still looking at several thousand pounds (or even tens of thousand) for an early sofa, but fortunately there are later Victorian examples which have the look if not the quality of the genuine 18th century items. You can get chairs sofas and tables from this era for starting at less than £100 and up to a few hundred. If you want to have a bit of a naughty 18th century French look in your bedroom, it's not impossible.

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