Some Knowledge About the Regency Period Furniture (Part 2/2)

In the last blog, I have discussed the characteristics of French regency furniture in the transitional period from the comparison between the chest of drawers and the desk. Today, I will continue to discuss this topic with the seat series as an example.

In terms of the craftsmanship of the seat, we can also find a gradual but very slow process. Essentially, or more precisely, in terms of structure, the chairs have not changed; it's just that their original design concepts have changed, which has led to changes in their styles.

With the advent of the Renaissance, the back of the Gothic high-back chair was significantly shortened, and the decorative elements were more derived from human design rather than religion. With the advent of the Baroque style, the seat gradually developed into a style that required a cushion, the legs of the chair were bent or turned into a column, and the back was slightly tilted back. Despite these, in fact, the design of the chairs did not give up their original structure, but still contained them in an imaginary cube.

Gothic Chair

Renaissance Chair

Baroque Chair

The reforms during the Regency changed traditional forms and decorations, and provided truly novel things, which were in violent conflict with the old things in the past. For a society that wants to sit comfortably but does not want to give up beauty, craftsmen and artists have created miracles. They smashed the cube and replaced it with a circle to harmonize function and beauty.

The curve reflects the human figure, and people bring ergonomics research into the design of the chair. Before the regency, the chair itself was a thing, and so was the body sitting on the chair. After the regency, people worked hard to adapt different types of chairs to the human body. From this point of view, the sofa chair is the most creative masterpiece of all the furniture in the transition period, which has opened the way for future development. The Regency did this through three important changes.

Louis XV Armchair

Regency Chair

The first change lies in the gradual liberation of shapes from structural patterns inspired by architecture. On the other hand, the concept of decoration related to the style of Louis XIV is almost completely changed. Louis XIV is rich in sculptural elements, and favors semi-precious stones and metal inlays, the best representative of which is the craftsmanship of Bühler. On the head of the lion in the Regency period, Louis XIV’s favourite pattern disappeared, as did the symbols of war (shield, helmet, arrow).

The second change is the use of curves instead of conservative styles and methods like Louis XIV. The Louis XIV period curves were limited to the legs or the round corners of the chest of drawers, but the Regency period allowed them to gradually invade the entire structure. Generally speaking, if this style does not meet the characteristics of the Louis XV style, then the difference between the Regency style is to open up a new aesthetic path for furniture design.

The third and final change, the logical result of the other two changes above, is to harmonize the shape of the fragments with their decoration, without letting the withered element dominate.

In practice, the Regency only succeeded in highlighting the new shape of its decoration, but the subsequent Louis XV style showed that the partially failed style in the Regency succeeded in that period.

In short, we should not forget that the Regency style marked the transformation of furniture from masculine to feminine. This transformation led to the removal of religious (Gothic), humanistic and cultural (Renaissance) or political (Baroque-Louis XIV) meanings in furniture design throughout the 18th century. Instead, the return of new and old decorative elements, the pursuit of the most perfect and elegant, and the change of style has accelerated at an unprecedented speed.

From the next article, I will begin to explain Louis XV furniture.