Louis XIV: 1640-1715
Louis XIV, also known as "The Sun King", had the longest reign of any European monarch. His focus on opulence and splendor was imposed upon France. The Palace at Versailles is a lasting example of his love of the arts and luxury.
French court furniture was built for grandeur rather than comfort and only the king was allowed to sit in an armchair. Stools and benches were covered in velvet, silk, damask, and gold brocade. Chairs and settees were just as elaborate.
Furniture introduced in this period includes the writing table or desk and finely detailed chests, which became one of the most important furniture types of the 18th century. The finest materials were used and the furniture is characterized by intricate marquetry, elaborate carving, gilding, inlaying, lacquer, gold leaf decorations of scalloped shells, lions' heads, dolphins, laurels and, of course, the sun and its rays.
There was an increasing fascination with the Far East and all things Asian. French craftsmen copied the style and added flourishes of their own. This was the beginning of "chinoiserie".
The "Os de Mouton" chair is the one of the most significant pieces of the era. As the name implies, this chair had curved legs shaped like those of a lamb.