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A Louis Seize interior: Cabinet doré de la Reine , Palace of Versailles

The Louis-seize (also: Louis XVI , pre-revolutionary classicism ) is a style in the French and French influenced European art and architecture of the 18th century between 1760 and 1790. The style is named after the French King Louis XVI. (Reign: 1774–1792).

Definition and demarcation

The Louis-seize belongs to classicism. His typical styles already developed towards the end of the previous era of Louis XV. ( Louis-quinze ) from about 1760 to about 1774; this period is therefore seen as a transition phase ("transition") from Rococo to the beginning of classicism .

Bagatelle Castle , Paris (1777)

The second and actual phase of Louis-seize is the period from 1774 to 1790, i.e. the reign of Louis XVI. before the outbreak of the French Revolution . In practice, the style was more influenced by the taste of Queen Marie Antoinette and the elegant decorations created for her in Versailles , Trianon and Fontainebleau than by the king himself.

In addition to the history of architecture, the term is mainly used for a style of interior decoration or for interior items, in particular a style of furniture . In Germany the plait style corresponds to it , in Austria the Josephinism , in England and the USA the Late Georgian or Adam Style and for furniture Hepplewhite , in Sweden the Gustavian style.

The styles preceding Louis-seize are the Louis-quatorze (French baroque ) under the "Sun King" Louis XIV and the Louis-quinze (French Rococo ) under Louis XV. (in England: Chippendale ). The engravings by Henri Salembier and the furniture by Jean-Henri Riesener were important pioneers .

The Louis-seize is followed by the Directoire (main period 1795–1799) and Consulate (1799–1804), followed by the Empire (main period 1804–1820).

Design language

In contrast to the rounded, curved and asymmetrical forms of the Rococo , the Louis-seize style is more straight and angular, but very delicate and elegant.

In terms of ornamentation, the organic, abstract-baroque forms of the rocaille are replaced by geometric shapes and subtle, naturalistic applications, such as flower baskets, twigs, birds, fruit sticks , fruit pendants, garlands, festoons and ribbons, and on the other hand, by the classicistic orientation towards antiquity , with meander ornaments , medallions , trophy jewelry , musical instruments and attributes of the various arts and sciences. Decorations in the so-called Pompeian style , which was inspired by the excavations in Pompeii , or Egyptian allusions with sphinxes were also popular (see e.g. Bagatelle Palace or the Cabinet doré of Marie Antoinette in Versailles ).

There are both very simple interiors - e.g. B. the private rooms with the library of Louis XVI. in Versailles -, as well as very imaginative, playful and precious room creations, such as B. the decor made for Marie-Antoinette in the queen's bedroom in Versailles with lush, colorful floral decorations on Lyons silk , or her Pompeian boudoir in Fontainebleau . Overall, there is a tendency towards the intimate.

Belvedere pavilion with the 'big rock' in the English park of the Petit Trianon


The most important representative in architecture is Ange-Jacques Gabriel with the prime example of the Petit Trianon . With Gabriel, the distinction between the two sub-phases is easy to understand: the second phase, influenced by Marie Antoinette , is of more delicate elegance. Another important building by Louis-seize is the Bagatelle castle in the Bois de Boulogne , built by François-Joseph Bélanger in 1777 .

In garden art , the typical French garden was replaced by the English landscape garden - a development that was prepared in terms of the history of ideas by Rousseau's natural philosophy.

Furniture and interior design

In general, the design of the objects is less strict and reduced than in classicism. In addition to the repertoire of capitals, gables, etc., there are also quotations from flora and fauna. The furniture is delicate and made of hardwood, sometimes mahogany, and has fine wood veneer or even inlay work . Also very splendid furniture in Boulletechnik occurs.

The floor plan of the cupboard furniture and secretaries is mostly rectangular with angled corners. The legs on or off there are typically straight and have a round cross-section. Playful or organic finishes and corners are not to be found, they mostly point to furniture of earlier or later styles, such as those of Louis Philippe (restoration).

When it comes to seating furniture, the Voyeuse and the Bergère, developed since 1740, are frequently represented. A very special type of Louis-seize furniture is the so-called Louis-seize chair . His legs are fluted , i.e. provided with a groove. Well-known manufacturers were the Parisian cabinet maker Nicolas Quinibert Foliot (he also made for Marie Antoinette ) as well as Jean Baptiste Claude Sené and Georges Jacob .

See also


  • Ferdinand Luthmer (Ed.): Interiors, furniture and works of art in the Louis Seize and Empire styles: based on models from the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century . 2 volumes. Frankfurt am Main: Keller, 1897 and 1903
  • Julius Hülsen (ed.): The Louis Seize style in old Frankfurt . 2 volumes: exterior architecture (vol. 1), interior architecture (vol. 2). Frankfurt am Main: Keller 1907

Web links

Commons : Louis-seize  - collection of images, videos and audio files