The Régence period in France, not to be confused with Regency in England a hundred years later, saw the beginnings of much lighter and more frivolous designs in furniture with the death of Louis XIV in 1715. His successor Louis XV was too young to become king, so his uncle Philip, Duke of Orleans was appointed as regent. This short period of French history or Régence saw a reaction against the heavy Versailles style of Louis XIV which resulted in a radical change in the furniture style that was to spread across Europe.
Cabinet maker to the Regent, Charles Cressent’s development of pieces such as the bombé commode chest of drawers, changed the shape of furniture from rectilinear to curvilinear. His commode not only curved downwards but also around the belly of the commode. The word bombé literally means swollen and these pieces were sometimes colloquially referred to as ‘pregnant’ when the serpentine shape was particularly pronounced. Cressent also increased the use of ormolu mounts and marquetry in these curvaceous pieces of antique furniture.
Louis XV finally became king in 1723. Although Cressent did not as such create Rococo, he heralded the way for the more outlandish interpretations of Rococo by goldsmith and architect Meissonier. Rococo or the French word rocaille means rock and shell although neither of these is found predominately on Rococo furniture.
The Rococo style became popular in England around 1750 and has been loosely ascribed to Chippendale’s designs of the time. When looking for period and revival Rococo antique furniture, such as antique dining chairs , in Lancashire, Cumbria and other counties, reputable antiques dealers should be able to advise you.
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