Antiques writer Peter Philp describes the French Rococo as the illegitimate daughter of the “rather depressing propriety” of the Baroque that “pirouetted into circulation apparently free from parental discipline and exhibiting all the waywardness once displayed by the Baroque in its youth”. Perhaps Louis XIV had been on the throne for too long. Certainly Rococo was all about fun for the new king rather than propriety.
As well as the many sea and floral metaphors used in Rococo furniture design, there were also elements of Chinoiserie where Louis XV had a passion for Chinese art. Much of this ornamentation was carved around pieces such as mirrors, chairs, and wall brackets and then gilded, however elaborate marquetry and lacquer designs were also used on flat surfaces such as tables and cabinets. Art itself also became a favourite embellishment on pieces and scenes in the style of Watteau were popular.
Tremendous skill was required of cabinet makers to create this Rococo styling and many were paid high prices for their work. Guilds existed for these skilled artisans and entry was heavily restricted. Some of these craftsmen would stamp their work so if you are lucky enough to own a period commode or writing table, any mark will raise the value of the piece enormously.
Much furniture of this mid 18th century period was copied during the 19th century; however these pieces can still be of the finest quality. When buying revival Rococo antique chests, Lancashire dealers will be able to advise on quality.
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