The fauteuil, elbow chair, arm chair or president’s chair heralds from early 18th century France, and remains the general term in the country for many types of easy chair. Antiques writer Plantagenet Somerset Fry has referred to the Louis XV version of this very French chair as the most elegant ever made. Typical examples from around 1740 were made of walnut, with heavily carved and gilded rails and arms, set on carved and gilded cabriole legs. The back and seat was fully upholstered and the arms partially upholstered in Gobelins tapestry which incorporated the floral Rococo designs so typical of the period. This gave the chair a very sumptuous yet light and pretty look. During the Régence period and the reign of Louis XV, the wealthy elite in France were tending to live in smaller apartments and moving away from the grandiose living of Louis XIV. Furniture reflected this change and became smaller, and the light Rococo styling gave the fauteuil particularly a much less formal appearance.
Thomas Chippendale designed many armchairs similar to the fauteuil with his own version of French Rococo styling from around 1750 onwards in England. These again had upholstered backs, partially covered arms and large covered seats set on heavily carved cabriole legs.
Original Louis XV fauteuils are rare and expensive. However, fine examples of the French fauteuil were reproduced in England during the 19th century. If wishing to decorate your home in the French style, well made revival armchairs and antique dining chairs are to be found in Lancashire where local dealers have many fine pieces.
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