13th November 2020 | Galerie Atena
Napoleon III style, which lasted from 1852 to 1870, is characterized by a vast mixture of styles from the 16th century to the 18th century. A large number of furniture items in Boulle style, Louis XV and Louis XVI living rooms, Renaissance and Empire style dining rooms were made in France in the second half of the 19th century. Small tables - such as guéridons and consoles - were particularly appreciated. Crafted of black lacquered wood, ebony, walnut or rosewood, those tables had various uses and their aesthetics was indebted to the old styles.
Large dining room tables faithfully reproduced Louis XVI or Empire tables, and more rarely, Renaissance tables. Louis XVI style, under the impulse of Empress Eugénie, a great admirer of Marie-Antoinette, perfectly imitated Louis XVI furniture, which gave this style the name "Louis XVI-Impératrice".
Our Empire style dining room suite takes up the forms and decorative motifs of the Directoire and Empire styles: gondola chairs, eagles, swans and geometrical patterns.
Furniture items in the style of André-Charles Boulle had small and monumental sizes, and their quality was exceptional. Boulle marquetry is a superposition of tortoiseshell and brass decoration. This technique named after the famous cabinetmaker of King Louis XIV, was brought by him to its most accomplished heights. Boulle used "partie" (light on dark, brass ornamentation fitted into a tortoiseshell ground) and "contrepartie" marquetry (dark colors against a light ground, tortoiseshell arabesques on brass) in his wardrobes, tables, clocks and desks. Several famous Napoleon III cabinetmakers specialized in Boulle style furniture, such as Joseph Cremer (1811-1878) and Charles-Guillaume Diehl (1811-1885).
The Second Empire period appreciated small tables with various uses: gueridon tables, console tables, nesting tables and "travailleuses" tables. Most of these pieces of furniture were crafted of black lacquered wood, and decorated with multicoloured paintings (flowers, chinoiseries or Renaissance scrolls). Some of them imitated Renaissance and Louis XVI styles.
Many gueridon tables were crafted of black lacquered wood or inlaid papier-mâché. A balustrade-shaped shaft connected to the round or rectangular top with a hinge that could open to tilt the tabletop vertically. Those guéridons were richly decorated with painted flowers inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
Napoleon III cabinetmakers used dark woods such as ebony - for Renaissance, Louis XV-style or Boulle style-furniture. Almost all woods for cabinet making were used during this period, however black lacquered wood was the most popular. It was especially adopted for small furniture with inlayed or painted decoration. Black lacquered furniture painted with multicoloured flowers are representative for this period.