Thursday, October 27, 2016

Difference between Louis XIV and Louis XV style

Nothing irritates me more than some interior designers, whom clients rely on for their knowledge of interiors, confuse the style between Louis XIV and Louis XV.  Often times, even though they may know there are differences between Baroque and Rococo style, they fail to acquire the knowledge.  I see in magazines that a Rococo chair been described as Baroque style and on television Baroque interiors get confused as Rococo style.

Baroque style started in 1600s and probably the most famous building in Baroque style is the Palace of Versaille outside of Paris.  If you stand in front of the palace,  you will notice that architecturally, the building is stately, balanced, and formal.

Rococo style started around 1720s as people got tired of formality and desired more playfulness in their everyday living.  The most famous building in Rococo style is the Hermitage Museum/ Winter Palace.  Comparing it to Versaille, you will notice the outside is less formal and use of color is lighter and less stuffy if you will.      

So what is the biggest difference between both styles when it comes to interiors?  The biggest difference between both style is symmetry.  Baroque style is always symmetrical whereas rococo style tends to be asymmetrical.  In addition, Baroque furniture tends to be heavy visually.  In response to the heaviness, Rococo is usually very playful and light.

The easiest way is look at plaster on the wall when one is trying to identify if a room is Rococo or Baroque.  With a Rococo interior, which the word Rococo is derived from the French word Coquilles (seashell), you will often see seashells.  So whenever you see seashell plaster work on a wall, you are most likely looking at a Rococo interior.  

When it comes to furniture, it is actually pretty easy to identify which ones are Baroque and which ones are Rococo.  Case and point.  Here is a Boulle commode (chest of drawer) on the left hand side.  Andre-Charles Boulle is often associated with Baroque style.  The chest of drawer is ornate and heavy looking.  It looks like it will easily take an army of four guys to lift this chest up.  As you can see, the decoration is symmetrical.

On the right hand side, we have a BVRB commode.  BVRB, aka Bernard II Van Risemburgh, is often associated with Rococo style.  Here we have a chest of drawers that is covered in Japanese lacquer.  As you can see, the image on the lacquer is not symmetrical and the feet that commode stands on are much smaller compare to Baroque chest of drawers.  Even the gilt bronze decoration is much lighter and more delicate looking.

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