Rococo Furniture: A History of a Design Revival
When Louis XIV’s 72-year reign ended with his death in 1715, the Rococo style was born. Design became looser than the strict, formal and austere Baroque era. Rococo was optimistic, light, feminine and exuberant with shell, plant and flower motifs.
Rococo was replaced by Neo-classicism and a return to Greek and Roman design. In 1840, however, the fluid lines of Rococo became popular again. Rococo Revival became one of the dominant designs in the Victorian era and lasted into the 1870s.
The characteristics of Rococo Revival furniture were:
- Medium to large scale
- Tufted upholstery with interior springs
- Symmetrical scrolls and curves
- C and S curves
- Lavish, high-relief carvings of nature motifs
- Curved cabriole legs on casters
- Marble tabletops
- Mahogany, rosewood, walnut
- Feminine, resulting in furniture mostly for the parlor and bedroom
Examples of Rococo style
John Belter, a well-known Rococo Revival furniture maker, used laminated rosewood with deep carving and piercework, and thick, upholstered, tufted seats and backs. Even the fabric was elaborate with floral designs.
This Rococo Revival sofa has birds and bird nest carvings. If you look at all the photos, you will also see the carved cabriole legs on casters.
Rococo design flourishes
Side chairs were less ornate, but were made with tufted upholstery and cabriole legs on casters.
This Rococo Revival étagère was machine made, but the flowers were hand carved. Note the typical C and S curves.
Lighting fixtures were brass with a variety of elaborate designs.
Another Rococo revival?
I am curious to see if Rococo makes another comeback. Even though my tastes are simple, I can appreciate the extensive work involved and the idea of Rococo being a sign of freedom and openness.