French Style Furniture

Interested in buying some French style furniture? Want to know what goes into making French style furniture?

There are many different styles of French furniture, each belonging to a different period in the history and heritage of France and consequently having their own peculiar influences and appearances. The last style of antique French furniture to become internationally famous and which is still seen in many houses across the world today is the reproduction French Empire style of furniture.

French Empire Style Furniture

French Empire Style Furniture has its roots in the 17th century when France was ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon was a military genius whose military conquests were vast and spanned different continents. French Empire style furniture flourished under the rule of Napoleon with the impetus behind the furniture designs being an attempt to communicate the Imperial grandeur that France had achieved under Napoleon. Interestingly, two of Napoleons conquests included Italy and Egypt, both of which had powerful empires at one point in history. Many of the artisans, architects and sculptures in Imperial France would borrow concepts from their Roman and Egyptian predecessors and incorporate them into French artistic endeavors, including the production of French style furniture.  Thus, in a way the French style of furniture known as Empire furniture is an attempt to encapsulate the glory of bygone empires while attributing that grandness to France.

Characteristics of French Empire Style Furniture

French Empire style furniture, unlike provincial country furniture, often makes use of metal decorative motifs, often symbols taken from ancient Egypt, such as winged lions, falcons or sphinx. These motifs, known as ormolu are quintessentially French empire style furniture and the best way of identifying empire style from other types of French furniture. One easy way to spot a table done in the French empire style is the use of a carved animal, often a sphinx, as a tale leg. Also many pieces of French empire style furniture have the letter carved N in them. N, which stand for Napoleon, is further evidence of the nationalistic fervor that inspired much French empire style furniture.

French empire style furniture also relies on size to communicate its grand intentions, and in comparison to preceding French furniture styles like Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI involves very little wood carving but relies more heavily on high sheen veneers.