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After the Revolutionary War feelings were strong against England, and our new young country looked for designs toward France who had helped us in our fight for independence.
Directoire, popular from 1805-1815, was the forerunner to French Empire fashions. Napoleon had been made Emperor in 1804 and desired martial, spartan and patriotic motifs. His time abroad inspired the neo-classic motifs with Egyptian and Roman decorations.
Directoire is noted for its saber-leg sofas (so called because of their resemblance to cavalry swords), Grecian couches, curule legs, lyre-back chairs and forward curving chair legs.
Mahogany was still the preferred wood and was often carved. Mahogany paneling was used for walls.
Neo-classic decorative designs were employed. They included wreaths, laurel branches, lyres, stars, rosettes, urns, palm leaves, as well as the more martial designs of battle axes, torches and shields.
Patriotic colors of red, white and blue were very popular in our country along with the American bald eagle. The more typical colors for Directoire, however, are terra cotta, orange, dull chocolate brown, blue-green, green-black, and yellow-green. Painted furniture was often soft grey or beige.
Striped fabrics and small delicate patterns were used. Toile de Jouy cottons were a favorite fabric.