Louis XIV

French Baroque seeks to awe and inspire, not to the glory of the church as in Italy, but to the absolutism of the Sun King, Louis XIV. As the first indigenous example of French decoration, French Baroque porjects projects grandeur and luxury embedded within an overall unity of composition a standard of beauty totally intergating the landscape, architecture, furniture, and decorative arts into an elaborate statement of court taste. This Baroque style marks France as the new artistic leader of Europe.


`Exterior facades display classical architectural features such as columns, pediments, arches, balustrades, draped figures, niches, quoins, swags, and cartouches. Motifs at versailles include intertwined L’s, sun face, musical instruments, military symbols, fleur de lis, and crowns. Other details are acanthus leaves, cherubs, classical statues, cartouches, dolphins, Chinoiserie, singerie, pagodas, and landscapes.

Chinoiserie- Pseudo- Chinese

Singerie- Monkeys in human activities


Public and Private Buildings

Types- The main building types are hotels, chateaux, and the Palais de Versailles. Only a few churches are constructed, as dwellings are more important.

Palais de Versailles

Chateau de Maisons

Dome Church, Les Invalides, Paris

Site Orientation- Buildings are integrated with the urban and natural environment and are situated along a longitudinal axis that directs progression toward a series of goals or focal points.

Floors plans- Plans strive for symmetry along at least one axis, if not two. Rooms generally are rectangular, although a few have oval salons orstair halls. There are no interior hallways. Within this context, French architects carefully plan the distribution of rooms to support formality, rank, ceremony, and the attributes of an aristocratic life.

Materials- Typical building materials are stone, with brick used for lesser structures, and wood plaster incorporated in vernacular examples.

Facades- Superimposed pilasters divide walls into bays and define tha overall ordering as well as the edgeof a unit. Traditional elements, such as rustication, string courses, and quoins, organize and unify facades. A series of stepped planes that define interior spaces leads to the center of composition and the entrance.

Windows and Doors- The proportion of window to wall is greater than in Italy as windows are larger to admit more light. French windows, a French invention, extend to the floor and open as doors onto porches or balconies.

Roofs- They include mansard, hipped, and flat, usually covered in slate with cresting at the apex. Roofs pitch steeply as before. Each unit may have its own roof.


Public and Private Buildings

Types- Ceremonial interiors are the most lavishly appointed and the most formal. Most dwellings even Versailles, have less formal, private spaces that will proliferate in the next period.  No room is set aside primarily for dining yet, although spaces identified as salle a manger appear during the period. Several rooms typically hold dining furniture so that people can eat where they please.

Materials- Rich and costly materials delineated in classical details dominate interiors. Interior architectural details includes niches with classical figures and pilasters dividing walls into bays, which repeat the exterior design.

Color- The typical palette includes white, gold, crimson, cobalt, purple, and deep green. Paintings, materials, and particularly, textiles, supply rich, saturated colors.

Lighting- Candles serve as the primary source of illumination with the quality enhanced through prisms and mirrors. Important lighting fixtures of the period include an applique, flambeau, candelabra, torchere, and lustre a cristeaux. They are made of gilded and carved wood, ormolu, and silver.


Lustre a Cristeaux

Floors- They are of wood, marble, or other masonry, often in complicated patterns. Use of parquet increases throughout the period. The French favor lozenge shapes in oak.

Walls- They retain classical proportions and details with an emphasis on the chimneypiece placed on the wall opposite the entrance or the windows and ornately accented above. Marble and wood mantels consist of either a bolection molding or pilasters and a cornice. A trumeau usually includes an elaborately framed mirror or a painting. Walls in Versailles are covered in polychrome marble in rectilinear patterns. Textile wall coverings include damasks, plain nad patterned velvets, and embossed leather.

Windows and Doors- Windows in ceremonial rooms, bedchambers, and dining parlors feature draperies in velvet or silk in panels or restoons that draw up with tapes. Most rooms have interior wood shutters to block light. Many rooms, particularly important ones, have double-entry doors. Doors match boiserie whrn present, but otherwise are paneled. Paintings hang above doors, and grand rooms often have portieres that help prevent drafts and add to interior opulence.

Ceilings- They are rectangular, heavy in scale, and very elaborate. They may be flat, compartmented, coffered, coved, or vaulted with guilded or painted plasterwork.

Frunishings and Decorative Arts

Types- Furnishing types, numbers, and designs reflect the formality of life. Cabinets, tables, and storage pieces are more common thnt other types.

Materials- Principal wood for construction are beech, oak, walnut, and ebony. Many pieces are guilded and feature marquetry or parquetry.

Seating- Sets of upholstered chairs and sofas are very fashionable. Typical pieces, rectangular with high backs, include the chaise, fauteuil, bergere, and canape.

The Chaise

The Canape

The Fauteuil

The Bargere

Tables- They support a variety of activities including gaming , conversation, and entertainment.

The Bureau Plat

Storage- Rooms are built without closets so clothes and other items usually are stored in armoires with doors or newly introduced commodes.



Beds- They are monumental, rectilinear, and completely surrounded with costly fabrics. Hangings, which may match or contrast with other textiles in the room, are emblished with fringes and trims adding to the richness of effect.

Decorative Arts- Types includes clocks, lighting, tapestries, rugs, ceramics, fireplace furniture, fire screens, paintings, mirrors, and vases.

Ceramics and Vases









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