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Understanding the Louis XV period furniture

History of the period:

Louis XV was the grandson of King Louis XIV and ruled France between 1715 and 1774. He is generally known to be one of France's most unpopular kings. During his reign he managed to thwart almost all social groups in his country. Yet, surprisingly and exclusively, this segregation from his people has led the antique furniture of the Louis XV period to be among the most sought after French furniture in the world. world.

Due to the imbalance of his country, the remaining furniture of Louis XV is perceived as a great treasure that announces a serious public unrest in France and symbolizes the determination of the whole of its people, but especially of its designers of continuous furniture. to inspire, create and deliver a legacy of fine, intricate and detailed furniture that remains a coveted design style to this day.

In spite of all that went wrong with the reign of Louis XV as king of France, one thing is undeniable, it is the detailed quality of the furniture that arose from this dark period in the history of France. to make head to hair. Something quite opposite, at once elegant and fluid, at a time of black misery.

What makes a piece of Louis XV furniture? A Louis XV furniture?

A number of revealing design features articulate this design style. It is quite common to hear or see furniture wrongly described as being Louis XV, while in reality it is Louis XIV. What separates them is actually quite distinctive, and I will list them below.

Louis XV furniture is :

  • Designed more curiously
  • Shapes and flowing shapes
  • Not done with straight lines, straight cuts or anything that seems angular
  • Finely carved and seemingly infinitely detailed
  • Hand painted
  • The shells tend to form the focal points of each design
  • Symbolic of romance, sensuality and love
  • Light and graceful

Louis XV furniture is not :

  • Depending on the presence to assert its claim, such as Gothic Furniture
  • Made with straight cuts
  • Big, bulky or angular
  • Strong and masculine
  • Machine painted
  • Machine cut

You will find that Louis XIV furniture has a style opposite that of Louis XV and that, where I listed the above points that are not associated with Louis XV, you will tend to find these same characteristics present in the Louis XIV furniture, for example, it will be more angular and less graceful, more in harmony with a force of masculine style than a will fire graceful and romantic as seen in Louis XV furniture. This is a very common mistake, probably because of the name similarities, but it is essential to identify your antique furniture for the dates to be accurate, as this can cause chaos for the buyer to auction!

The next problem that I tend to see quite often in my field is the missing replica of the originals.

Identify real furniture from the Louis XV period

Yes, sad as it is, there will always be people among us who feel the need to distort antiques for personal gain by selling copies or replicas. When buying antiques, especially online, be sure to use a respected retailer, such as LJR Windwake & Sons, or a specialist seller in the desired style, in this case an antique furniture specialist. Louis XV. It is extremely important to be scrupulous when buying antiques online at auction sites or at dealers, but luckily I have some good tips for you ensure that the furniture you buy is the real deal .

1. Ask for details about cupboard manufacture

Be sure to ask the seller to explain how the piece was made, making sure you have the joints described in the wood. If they are visible, and keep in mind that the carpentry of a & # 39; ancient & # 39; would not be machine cut but would actually be cut by hand, ask him to describe them to you. Chances are that hand-cut seals will be rougher and may not be as accurate as machine-cut seals, which should be a good indication of the originality and antiquity you buy is actually an "antique". and not something that was flipped from a production line in ShenZhen, China, 2006.

The best way to find a cut is to remove a print and look closely where the front and back of the drawer are attached to the sides of the drawer. If a joint were made by hand, it would be dovetailed and have only a few joints, and they would not be exactly equal. If the dovetails are closely spaced and cut, it will have been cut to the machine. Handmade dovetails almost always indicate a piece made before 1860.

2. Look for imperfections such as nicks and cuts

Another great way to help determine the validity of an old or handcrafted piece of furniture would be to look closely for nicks and cuts on the back, sides and bottom of the board. Nicks and cuts usually indicate that a hand tool has been used to plan, shave or cut the wood. Straight cuts, like those you get with a straight saw, are also good signs, while circular cuts mean that the cut was made with a circular saw, which was not used only after 1860.

3. Exact symmetry? No way!

This is probably the simplest sign of machine-made furniture compared to hand-made furniture. If something looks exactly symmetrical, it is very likely that it was cut by machines. So be sure to ask for many pictures of the furniture you buy.

4. Request a detailed description of the finish

The finishing style is also a great way to identify the age of a Louis XV piece. Some finishes have been used at different times, which is a great way to determine the age of your antique furniture. For Louis XV, everything should be painted by hand. Hand painting is often identifiable with slight imperfections in brush strokes or edges, although some of the finest Louis XV show no signs of human error because the quality was so high, it is always advisable to ask for pictures of any painting, especially for imperfections, as these can actually add to the value of your furniture.

5. Make sure the seller explains the type of wood used in the manufacturing

It is often a simple method to gauge an age because, as a rule, everything that was before 1700 was made from oak, from 1700 (our Louis XV era), mahogany and walnut were the preferred woods. if its pine, it normally indicates American furniture and normally indicates slightly cheaper jobs. The very precious and ancient treasures of the Louis XV period will be mahogany or walnut.


Be always careful when buying antique furniture, but if you are planning to buy furniture, be sure to bring you the maximum amount of research before attending an auction. It is also very wise to go to an auction with an object in mind. Visit open houses, take notes, go home and research what you saw, then attend the auction with a renewed knowledge of your purchase and always try to always get as much information as possible from the seller, as whether for purchase or sale. online or in an auction house.

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