Charles X style

Charles X style lasted from 1818 to 1834, partly during the reign of Charles X, comte d’Artois, during the Bourbon Restoration. One of the main features is the softening of shapes from the Empire style, as pieces of furniture were curvier. Dimensions were decreased so that pieces of furniture could fit smaller appartments. Comfort was one of the key-words in the making of furniture.
The use of bois clairs - light woods in warm blond tones such as bird's-eye maple – as well as marquetry and inlaid decorations made out of dark woods were fashionable as they suggested the monarchist splendour.
Charles X style, which took some features from the Empire style while differing from it, allowed a transition to Louis-Philippe style, as the abundant decorations broke definitively with the sobriety and Neoclassicism from the French Empire. For instance, the "style à la cathédrale" (cathedral-inspired style) started during Charles’s reign and thrived during Louis-Philippe’s.

Directoire style

The Directoire style, which takes place from 1789 to 1804, is concurrent with the French Revolution, the Directory and the beginning of the Consulate. The period thus inherits a certain classicism, particularly through references to Antiquity both concerning the motifs and the rectilinear and geometric forms. The curule seats become for example a popular model.

The Revolution and the Le Chapelier Law cancel in 1791 the system of corporations releasing the artists of the restrictions on their area of performance. Jacob Frères, famous cabinetmakers of the time, are an example of this new freedom as in their Salon of Madame Recamier, surely the most known furniture of the Directoire style.

However, the period will not be at the origin of a real new creation. The Directoire style corresponds to the transition from the Louis XVI style to the Empire style: if it retains the rigor of the first, it announces some decorative themes of the second, especially after the coup of 18 Brumaire which brings the military and imperial motives.

Louis-Philippe style

Under the reign of Louis-Philippe I, the decorative arts, especially goldsmithery and furniture, have its glory days. Jacob-Desmalter and Bellanger take part in the diffusion of this new opulent style which seduces quickly the new bourgeoisie.

Imposing and massive furniture with an important comfort and practice research characterizes the style. The chest of drawers and the tub chairs are emblems of the period, as well as the appearance of casters on the furniture. The style perpetuates a certain classicism with its very straight lines. Bronzes and ornaments gradually disappear.

Neo-Renaissance style grows during this period with for example the famous cabinetmakers Grohe and Fourdinois. This style is linked to the movement of rediscovery of the national past. The dark woods (mahogany, rosewood, ebony, blackened beech and pear) become very fashionable.


Linked to the current political events with the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the colonization, Orientalism grows during the 19th century and is characterized by an important occidental interest for foreign lands.

First very present in literature and painting, Orientalism, thanks to the World's fairs, soon inspires architecture and decorative arts, and gives a certain forms and patterns renewal to ceramists and glassmakers in particular, such as Theodore Deck and Philippe-Joseph Brocard. The Barbedienne and Christofle houses will be the Parisian paragons of this dreamed East.

With the rediscovery of quarries in Algeria, onyx also becomes a privileged material, which Charles Cordier, especially, will exploit. Although decors are sometimes fantasized and create with multiple inspirations, the artists make a point of honor reproduce, even compete, with traditional techniques.

Rocaille and Rococo

Invented by the decorators Oppenord, Meissonier and Pinault, the Rocaille ornaments are key elements of the Regence style and the Louis XV style. Shells and plants thus invade the decoration, transforming themselves according to the caprices of dreams into abstract and eventful forms.

The Rocaille ornaments are hence the French expression, in the decorative arts, of the late Baroque exuberances throughout Europe. In the nineteenth century, art historians forged a new term from "Baroco" and Rocaille to designate this European aesthetic of the eighteenth century: the Rococo.

Rocaille or Rococo, objects with capricious forms in the taste of the Louis XV style can often be described as both. More precise, however, we will prefer to speak of Rocaille for asymmetrical ornaments, evoking natural forms. These dreamlike forms continued to seduce in the nineteenth century as witnesses the success of François Linke and Leon Messager, to name but a few. Finally, the Art Nouveau also retains the lessons of these turbulent lines.