Louis XVI takes the throne in 1774, he inherits an extremely troubled nation burdened by debts, inflation, and growing discontent among the people. The huge govenmental bureaucracy, wars, and supporting the monarchy require great sums of money, and became the nobles and the church are not taxed, the burden falls on the middle class and peasants.
France never completely rejects classical influence despite the dominance of the of the Rococo style in the first half of the 18th century. They call for a new classicism, one that is rational, truthful, and natural or derived from nature.
Te motifs come from Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Egyptian sources. They include garlands, swags, frets, guilloches, plaments, classical figures, sphinxes, masks, flowers, bouquets, baskets of flowers, shephereds, shepherdesses, farm tools, balloons, bows, Chinoiserie, and singerie.
Types: Churches, palaces, and hotels are the older buildings. Newer buildings include markets, hospitals, theaters, and auditoriums.
Site Orientation: Structures face streets or squares.
Floor plans: Plans are generally rectangular or centralized.
Materials: Brick, stone, marble are the main materials but some building have cast-iron details.
Facades: Exteriors are often composed of largegeometric blocks and plain walls. Smooth, low-relief rustication highlights lower stories and some entrances and ends. Columns are structural not decorative, while pilasters and engaged columns articulate facades and mark bays.
Wall: Smooth and flat to emphasize volume. Most structures have a prominet cornice between wall and roof.
Windows: Large and rectangular with plain and relatively flat surrounds.
Doors: Designers emphasizes doorways with columns, pilasters, pediments, and rustification and central placement.
Roofs: Are flat with balustrades.
Color: Dominated by pale green, white, gray blue, and pearl gray. Black and red dominate Etruscan rooms.
Lighting: The use of oil lamps increases during the period. The designs of ceiling lanterns, lustre a cristeaux, flambeaus, candelabra, appliques, and gueridons reflect the new taste.
Walls: Symmerty continues to define wall paneling even to the point of a false door to balance a real one. Decortive painting, wallpaper, or fabric adorns panel centers. Carved stucco becomes an alternative to wood paneling.
Windows: French door/windows maintain univeraslity. Windows in important rooms have curtains.
Doors: Doorways in public spaces serve as important paths of circulation and therefore display elaborate classical moldings. Heights are greater than in residential buildings.
Ceilings: Public spaces feature vaulted and coffered ceilings enhanced with callical moldings. Domes are in important areas.
Furnishings and Decorative Arts
Louis XVI furniture depicts Neoclassical motifs in te form and scale of Rococo. Pieces are simple rectangles with outlines softened by ornament.
Seating: All Louis XV types of chaises, fauteuils, and canapes continue, but reflect Neocalassical design principles.
Tables: They are small and large, remain numerous as before. Dining table are more common in this period.