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Decorative Periods:
Decorative Stles And Periods In The Home
General Antiquity
Pompeian Decorative Styles And Periods
Gothic Decorative Styles And Periods
The Renaissance
Decorative Styles And Periods In Italy
Decorative Styles And Periods In France
The Style Of Louis Quatorze
The Style Of Louis Quinze
The Style Of Lous Seize
Empire Decorative Styles And Periods
Elizabethan Or Tudor Styles Sixteenth Century
Jacobean Period
Queen Anne
Chippendale Middle Of Eighteenth Century
The Adams Brother
Hepplewhite Book Issued 1789
Shearton - End Of The Eighteenth Century
English And American Empire
Art Nouveau

The Style Of Louis Quinze

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



REIGN OF LOUIS XV-1715-1774. REGENCY-1715-1723

As the Mohammedan lays aside his shoes when entering the temple, or the Chinese when entering his house, so we, when we enter into the decorative period which bears the name of the fifteenth royal Louis of France, are inclined to kick off the clods of the street and slip our tripping feet into red-heeled shoes, to carry a garlanded crook or a musical pipe in hand, and perch a wreath of flowers saucily sideways on well-coiffed head.

And as we would deck the person, in like manner prepare we the mind which it reflects, coming to the feast, to the music of the most sophisticated of shepherd's pipes, with a heart for any fate, so it be gay, a trifle mocking, capricious, and extravagant. All thoughts of seriousness are cast away, all responsibilities except that of mirth, and while the spirit of youth pervades all, it is assisted by an affectation of rusticity more than piquant.

Prepare the mind to dismiss its seriousness, even lay aside for the moment its moral prejudices so that the time may again speak eloquently, as it did to those who lived and made it what it still remains, the most marvellous decorative period of France. The superlative is dangerous to use, for many men there be, and these have many minds and tastes, but if any one has prejudices against the work of this period they are founded, not on the style in its most exquisite development, but on those corruptions and exaggerations to which it easily lent itself. Indeed, its greatest beauties were exactly those features which were first tormented into the hideous, as, for example, the wonderful balanced relation of its irregular scrolls - but that we shall consider later.

The perfection of the style was produced by the best living artists and craftsmen, and it is their work which must be borne in mind when the style is considered. From whence their inspiration sprung it would be hard to say, so numerous were the sources, and even the East contributed artistic motifs, but from it all was evolved a style which belongs exclusively to France, and to her artists the honour. The period preceding turned a backward look over the shoulder towards Italy, as though the pomp of that old Rome which was being excavated was the desired motif for the Great Louis. Splendid the time was, and spectacular - but was it altogether a comfortable humanising sort of thing to live with? Its decorations when copied now are the favourites of big hotels and clubs which give space for their architectural effects of pilasters, and its furniture is only appropriate in single pieces, unless one's home contains an immense gallery of tapestry or paintings.

And the period which follows, that of Louis XVI, went for its central thought again to Italy, where Pompeii was yielding herself to the excavators.

But the style of Louis XV was entirely French made, and this being the case, it is only a pleasure to look into the causes that produced it, the times that it reflects. If it is gay, is not gayety a necessity of bravery? If it is inconsequent, is not that its peculiar charm? If the style is illogical, does it not parry by baffling, and coquette with reason?

One style melts into another with no more discernible mark of division than separates the tints of a sunset sky, so already, before Madame de Maintenon bade farewell to her dying royal spouse, a foreshadowing had come of the comfortable curves that were to ease man's body in the succeeding reign, although the pretty decorative gambolling of shell and curve did not come until much later. The backs of chairs had already, however, departed from the rectilinear, and swept in a curve which had the hybrid look of all things transitional. The straight back, plain, with upholstery, or covered with a gilded carving, was more in keeping even though the head of the careless sitter may occasionally have received a knock in nesting itself among the protuberances.

But the true transitional period is due to the influence of him who was not monarch at all, but had the training of the succeeding one. Philippe de Bourbon was regent during the childhood of Louis XV, that baby monarch being but five years old on the death of his grandfather Louis XIV. As the child was allowed to reign, was called " of age " at thirteen, it is but natural to suppose that his uncle Philippe continued his sway over him, but his influence depended, alas, on the ways of effeminacy, and however much they may have helped out, they scarcely contributed to self-control and firmness of character.

It is only just to the king who gave himself over to such folly in his manhood to remember the influences that directed his childhood until the death of the regent in 1723. Philippe himself had not been hardened into vigour by those processes which we Anglo-Saxons consider necessary for the making of a man, but himself might have stood for model in one of Moliere's satirical humourous plays which showed the follies of fashion. He is hardly disassociable from his pots of cosmetics, his rouge and powder, his curls and laces, his mincing ways. He was tied too closely to the side of his injudicious doting mother to develop as a man.

And so sweet luxury being the desire of those that stood in high places, the note was followed by the workers. Louis XV, brought up to self-indulgence and ease, departed not from the ways in which he was trained, and so this time signalises the triumph of an artistic sensuality.

The State ateliers established under Henry IV and, as we have seen, so magnificently developed under Louis XIV, were still the centre of artistic production, notwithstanding that the high-minded and able Colbert and Le Brun were no more. Un appartement au Louvre was still an attainable prize, and the Gobelins factory was strong to produce, notwithstanding sundry shocks. The importance of these State ateliers cannot be over-estimated, for it is to them that France owes her best periods of applied arts, and without them there would not have been the co-ordination that leads to permanent result.

Those who look sadly on modern efforts, who think pessimistic thoughts over the forests of Michigan as presented in furniture form, must not compare these days of sporadic effort, of isolated individuals, with the time when the entire government co-operated to develop the arts and crafts. Such comparison would be unfair, but also such comparison makes us more than ever eager to procure for ourselves the works of the past.

Artists of the ateliers were quick to seize the new idea, to cater to a taste at variance with that which had for so long been sustained. The line of rectitude which the king in his age had attempted in life as well as in its decorative expression, melted into curves beneath the warmth of luxury as ice-blocks melt beneath the sun. The regency lasted but eight years, yet in that time such changes came as would not have been thought possible, and from these changes grew all the daintily florid decoration of Louis XV, - the Well-Loved they call him, possibly concealing a double meaning in the title.

It is not supposable that any one exists who does not know the general characteristics of the style, for no patterns have been more assiduously copied than these, yet it was the daughter of a cultivated family who inquired if the difference between Louis XV and Louis XVI was not that one was crooked and the other straight. Unhappily for those who do know the fine points of difference to a degree exceeding this example, the market is now being flooded with cheap machine-made imitations, which bear a painful resemblance to the real. It is annoying, surely, to run against the echo of de Pompadour in the department store, set between kitchen hardware and groceries, but these impertinences of fresh wood and machine-turned tool are but upstarts, and, like the toadstools on the lawn, will not last. Perhaps they cultivate the public taste, but I doubt if that is ever done except by study of the best.

And the best - no matter how the prejudice of the day resents it -the best is of the past, and for this simple reason the mission of the French aristocracy of that day was to direct the arts of the nation, to nourish the art of today and prepare the art of the future. These people's lives were not utterly frivolous when they co-operated with workers through their patronage instead of, as now, submitting their taste to the guidance of dealers at sales where prices are regulated by cupidity of the seller and ignorance of the buyer.

But if forms are copied, workmanship rarely is, and this must always be remembered. Being thus warned, we may consider a few examples of work and their salient features. In chairs, the greatest divergence is made from the preceding style. Comfort, ease, abandonment to pleasure, speaks from every line of the curved shapes, wherein not a single angle is to be found. One fancies the body at once relaxing, falling into a delicious abandon of attitude on the comfortable cushions within the wide-spread arms which invite the indolent frame. The supports are all curved, too, in their easy grace giving themselves to the line of pleasure and beauty. Straight were the chair-legs of the time of the Grand Monarque, but in his grandson's time such rigidity suggested work and duty, and these were the last things in the world that Louis XV cared to think about or to do. But as art concerns itself not with morals, it flourished happily without them, and we who believe that outward evidence corresponds to inward grace must hunt up some other theory of accounting for the exquisite results of this licentious time.

The chair called the chaise bergere was invented to the joy of those who like to sit long and lazily. Its arms embrace, and also enfold, with the upholstery, not content to rest in little pads for softening the asperities of wood against angular elbows, but reaching around the sides to the back, making cushioning complete. Thus could the sitter slant himself sideways with as great comfort as in sittin; more properly, and thus were backs screened from draughts.

The wood was usually walnut, usually gilded, but before the gilder had his way the piece was long in the hands of one of the sculpteurs du bois, who carved thereon a pattern elegant in its entrancing details. The slender legs of graceful curve were decorated at foot and knee, formed in harmony with the design which followed all around the frame of the seat. The back was joyfully seized by the workers as a field for light fancy, and was treated as a decorative frame for holding the upholstered cushion. From a central shell or flower the carving fell in grace over the curving corners, clinging to the frame as softly as though the flowers had really grown in the terraced garden just outside, beside the artificial fountain.

The C curves, which were arranged with a symmetry that satisfies while it defies all rules, are seen more on larger decorations, chairs not being a fair field for their tricks of balance, but instead shells and flame-like motifs half floral, suggesting everything and nothing; these, with realistic flower forms, were the basis for chairs and also sofas. Upholstery was considered too important to cede place to carving, for upholstery meant bodily comfort, and carving, which was meant for the eye, could be, and was, lavished on large pieces and on walls, where was no question of contact.

The covering of chairs was less awe-inspiring, less suggestive of pomp and its prodigious formalities than in the preceding reign. The huge designs, appropriate only to a church or hall, were replaced by the smaller and pleasant patterns that invite near and familiar inspection. The licentiousness of the day it is not agreeable to dwell upon, but the human note in design, the coming down, as it were, from the court of pompous Jove to the elegant familiarity of a boudoir, touches an answering chord of sympathy in our modern taste.

This was especially a time of the boudoir, in other words, intercourse with persons of importance was had in a prettier way than hitherto when the monarch and all great personages gave audience enthroned at one end of a discouragingly large room, after the manner of the stage. The ways of Louis XV lacked dignity for all kingly purposes, but for our domestic and social uses the fittings of the boudoir are a pleasing remainder of the time when beautiful comfort became the fashion.

To suit the elegance of the chairs and sofas of the time, then, the silks made at Lyons were gentler in design, usually floral with a prettily naturalistic quality, suggesting the sophisticated garden where none but choice flowers were allowed to bloom. Occasionally a stripe was woven, but this in general is accorded to the succeeding style and, for some arbitrary unreason, is apportioned to Marie Antoinette alone.

The tapestry factories at this time were kept active supplying coverings for chairs; and however workmen were oppressed then to finish with skill, but haste, the pieces for chairs, sofas, and screens, that the soubrette du Barri or the merciless de Pompadour might not be kept waiting for her luxuries, nowadays we know no sentiment but unrestrained pleasure on beholding a piece of Beauvais left from those times. It is no exaggeration to say that such pieces are intoxicating in their loveliness of design and colour, a monument not to the immorality of conspicuous patrons of art, but to the gifted invention and inspired industry of the artists who designed, and the craftsmen who conscientiously executed.

Each piece of tapestry was a perfect composition, carefully proportioned to the place it filled, and as all artists worked in unison to complete one thought, the woodwork of the piece was arranged about the tapestry as a frame encloses a picture. NO daintier conception has ever occurred, and perfect harmony is the result. An examination of the examples given will reveal the beauties of this system.

The Gobelins factory wove mainly the large tapestries used for enriching walls, and the noticeable change at this time was in design. Oudry was now director, and he, in trying to paint with wools, greatly over-stepped the possibilities of the medium. To be explicit, the older weavers employed but nineteen colours, and these of sufficient strength to last, but under the new idea of faithfully copying large paintings which were executed without the slightest reference to dyed wools, this new idea demanded so many tones that the number grew to a thousand colours of twelve shades each. The pictures were faithfully copied, but such delicacy of shading could not long withstand the assaults of sunlight, and have now faded until original effects are lost. For this reason the older tapestries with their honest colours are more sought.

Boucher succeeded Oudry, and it is easy to see how his delectable touch, his peachy skin-textures would fade when entrusted in all their delicacy to any less changeable medium than paint. Both he and Oudry were influential in changing the class of design. Martial magnificence and solemn pomp, whether of the Romans or of the Grand Louis, were not in keeping with the softness of the court of Louis XV, and artists, not wishing to present unwelcome subjects to their patrons, drew sylvan scenes, wherein disported sophisticated maids with mock-modest mien and boldly persistent gallants in inappropriate silks and satins.

Ridiculously futile and too consistently amorous these fanciful people parade before the eyes of practicality, but they have a power to charm into unwonted alligresse the descendants of the Puritans' shovel-hat and linsey-woolsey frock. They were done with the touch of the true artist, and so they live and tell us that joy is as much a part of life as joylessness. Boucher has left us many a painting of this class besides the charming portraits of the young daughters of Louis XV, which glow sweetly from the canvas and claim the admiration that is beauty's due.

No large piece of furniture of the time we are considering was complete without the metal mounts introduced by Boulle, originally to cover the join at the corners of his shell and metal inlay. The perfection of these mounts is reached in the worldcelebrated piece in the Louvre known as le Bureau du Roi. This metal work was executed by Oeben, the pupil of Boulle, assisted by Riesener. Another conspicuous metal worker was Jacques Caffieri whose history and whose family history is matter of record and gossip. It interests, because it illustrates the times and shows a little of life outside Versailles and other palaces, the life of the commoner of whom one hears so little in this reign. The first Caffieri was imported by royal favour from Italy to execute the king's pleasure in his handicraft, leaving the service of so great a person as Pope Alexander VII. His son Jacques worked at the Gobelins factory when it was producing its marvels of metal work, and took first rank, not only in execution but in design. To him is due the substitute of another leaf in place of the age-honoured acanthus, the leaf of the endive or celery. Its decorative advantages are many, for while embellishing it did not conceal, but leaves exposed the wood or stone behind it, trailing itself in light fantastic curls peculiar to this period.

After the Regency all attempt at having a design alike on both sides of a given centre disappeared in metal mounts, and the handles of drawers, escutcheons and the like, strayed into delightful abandon, yet never disturbed harmony. Only masters like Gouthiere and Caffieri could originate a style which combined so happily rebellion and accord.

The name of Gouthiere is associated with a bit of personal history. He, like Caffieri, worked at embellishment of the king's meubles, and more especially at those for the king's favourites, producing candelabre, branch lights, and such independent pieces, in addition to the decoration of tables and cabinets, down to the very keys which were sometimes marvels of small design and which now we prize so highly.

Gouthiere was employed by the heartless du Barri, La Petite Jeanne as she was called, but probably not in affection. With the wild prodigality of the day, and more especially of those whom the king's conduct caused to forget that money had a value or coffers a limit, this spoiled grisette ordered of Gouthiere so much of his work that she fell in debt to him for -56,00o francs. The favourite could not pay, the king was dead. Gouthiere applied to the State, which repudiated the debt, for a new order reigned. Another case of serving with too much zeal an unworthy master. Gouthiere, however, lived to see another day, for he was but thirty-four, in the height of his talent's productiveness, when Louis XV died. This artist was the inventor of the dead gold finish on metal which has ever since added refinement to gilded bronze.

We are considering a time when names are not disassociable from works. Where now could we find the name of the man who made a piece of modern furniture? The name of the manufacturing firm perhaps, but not that of the man who gave grace to the design and elegance to the finish - for the work is subdivided and one man makes a leg, another a draw, another assembles the parts, and another affixes metal mounts moulded by the thousand, and no man of them all ever sees or cares to see the completed whole.

One cannot go far in mentioning the conspicuous features of decoration at this time, without mentioning the names that have become immortal in their line of decorative art. There is, for instance, the exquisite Vernis-Martin with its satisfying loveliness, its sleek beauty. There was a whole family of Martins, and they were nothing but coach varnishers, until inspired by the incomparable lacquer imported from China and Japan. The father of these industrious men was a simple tailor, a fact which sets one wondering, as sporadic cases of talent seem to contradict the theory that like produces like. Voltaire in a play represents the titled heroine of the piece as receiving a valuable specimen of Vernis-Martin for a wedding gift, showing the high esteem in which it was held.

The discovery of this lacquer enabled large pieces of furniture to be embellished in a way hitherto impossible, a way which charms with its daintiness. Watteau himself painted for the Martins his entrancing scenes of rustic affectation, the portrayal of sophisticated youth ever playing at pretty innocence, all elegantly arrayed, continuing their duel of love amid pastoral scenery.

The method of making the lacquer which preserved these paintings was elaborate and costly, and suited the time. Large fields were covered with green of a shade both restful and piquant, powdered with gold, and this is especially associated with the name of Martin, and is reproduced even today. It was an ideal background for the dainty paintings of Watteau and Boucher, but also has charm enough to need but slight embellishment. Large fields were sought for this treatment, as its beauty was lost on small surfaces, therefore, it was used for large panels for over-mantles and over-doors.

The sedan chair was one of the coquettish luxuries of the day, and these afforded an unusually fine surface for decoration. Fortunate indeed are those who can find one now. Little danger there is that my lady's chair will ever again stand outside with lackeys, for now it is an honoured guest in the drawing room, where, posing as a cabinet, it speaks with piquant suggestion of the intrigues at which it once assisted, of powdered wigs and patches, of masks and veils, of pursuing footsteps, dropped notes, and all the rest of the play that seems but a play when seen at this distance, but was alternately gay and bitter, serious and sweet, as life is now in the modern home which harbours this relic of Vernis-Martin.

It was the fashion to paint the wood in those days for some of the delicate boudoirs and chambers, to paint it in the palest shades and soften all the paint with many a coat of varnish carefully rubbed down. Enamelling, we would call the process now. Carved chairs were not thus treated, but those in which the sweeping lines were uninterrupted, and this made a cheaper sort of furniture for purposes and homes where elaboration was not required.

Inlay of woods - not metal and shell - were astonishingly unambitious, considering the tendency to let decoration run riot. Exception must be made, however, to such work as Riesener's on the Bureau du Rot. The usual patterns were a sort of diaper, varied by floral sprays of an impoverished nature, as though the artist were handling an unaccustomed medium, one not thoroughly understood. The manner of panelling in the time of Louis XIV was continued, slightly more elaborate, that is, panels were made by cutting and laying the wood with the grain running in slanting lines instead of horizontal or perpendicular. Commodes of bombe shape were usually decorated with veneer thus applied instead of leaving exposed the wood of which the piece was made.

The habit of incrustation was still strong in the makers. Perhaps it remained for the entry of mahogany to route it in the arts as applied to furniture, and that across the channel. Tulip, maple, rosewood, amaranth, represents some of the woods used in these attempts at inlay which have a certain quaintness as of an old-fashioned bouquet. Perhaps marquetry was not thought artistic by those fine designers, for it was flourishing in Holland and could not, therefore, have been unknown. Indeed, there are many who hold this opinion now, especially in America where, the best dealers say, it is hard to find a market for it.

In 1753 Louis XV made a royal institution of the Sevres porcelain factory. This gave fresh impetus to the work, and made fashionable its wares for more uses than merely setting out feasts for fastidious beauties where moral frailty exceeded that of the pate tendye. The makers of furniture planted dainty placques in their work, where they still stay in undaunted brightness, a contrast to the time-marked wood that frames them. Watteau scenes and ladies' portraits were painted on the placques, and du Barri pink became a popular border. Gouthiere, whose love of elaborate detail was ever casting about to paint the lily and refine gold, hit upon the vases of the Sevres factory, and twined about them his unsurpassed metal mounts, and others followed him.

It was at this time that mirrors were introduced over mantles in place of the heavy carvings of the preceding reign, or the painted panels of the present one. The frames made admirable opportunity for decoration, one blending with the general scheme of the room. One might think that the vanity of the day would have rejoiced in this opportunity to see the face and toilette reflected at every turn, but a French writer of the time complains pettishly at the innovation, that they are a cause of sterility and produce nothing but the figures of those before them.

The especial feature of this decorative period is the well-known rococo or rocaille, which is so well known as to make even its mention seem unnecessary. The connection is apparent between the name and the rocks and shells to which are accredited the inspiration of the style. With its irregular symmetry we are familiar, but before the audacity of its original designers, we must ever stand admirers. To appreciate the daring and the originality, we have but to consider the time preceding, when classic rectangularity signalised all constructive lines.

Apartments had hitherto been treated almost like embellished exteriors. Under Nicolas Pineau the architectural effects vanished, and rooms became a field for the gentle play of delicate relief laid on with refined energy of design. Ornament was drawn with power and grace, and a rich treatment of sculptured wainscot took the place of architecture.

It is said of Pineau that he achieved a determined symmetry by the ingenious balance of opposing curves, giving no hint of the excesses into which it was betrayed by those who took his thought but not his art. This sums it all, the perfection and the decadence of the Louis Quinze style; its secret lies in the happy conception of its balanced relations, its ruin is the perversion or misuse of these.

Those who condemn the style as a voluptuous perversion must consider its best expression, and there will be found abundant evidence of its beauty. It was too marked in its peculiarities not to have many imitators, and these have travestied the work of its originators so that any irregular distortion of Spain or Italy is called after this period. To show the excesses to which these countries let unrestraint rule, a console is illustrated from the palace of the Corsini in Rome. A comparison of this with the two doors given on other plates shows the difference between talent and coarse imitation.

It is impossible to look on the work of this period with a cold eye, for it speaks not alone the language of art but of human interest, a tie which obliterates time and circumstance. We know that the apartments at Versailles, decorated with an art " seductively elegant in all its details," held men and women whose lives might be similarly described. The consummate art of these chairs and sofas was more than equalled by the social arts of those who reposed in them their voluptuous forms and plotted their many intrigues for the heart of a lady or the possession of royal favour. On yonder dainty desk of VernisMartin, notes were penned which set hearts abeating with what passed for love; behind that threefold screen hid youths or ladies caught where they should not be; and on that table lay a telltale fan left by a flying dame.

It was a pretty time, but a depraved. Looked at only on the surface we can adore it, feed our fancy with its piquancy, its audacity, and its consummate talent for giving pleasure. We can see a flock of lovely women - always young, always beautiful, always dressed in elegant picturesqueness -women with a wit which sparkles the more brilliantly for its setting. These privileged creatures seem always to be doing the agreeable things of life, dancing coquettishly over terraces, or half hiding in a bosquet, with the inevitable accompaniment of gayly suing lovers, music, laughter, and an inseparable elegance.

Looking deeper, we see unpleasant retributions - heavy ennui that succeeds indulgence of the senses, remorse, regrets, and baffled ambitions among those of high estate, cynicism among the philosophers, and unmitigated suffering among the poor, and already the deeper imprecating groans that presage the Revolution. The time of Louis XIV had faults to deplore, and weaknesses to ridicule, but it had been a time of building up. The time of Louis XV was a time of destroying.

The king himself, we all know him, and in him see the good and the bad. We look delighted on his young beauty, his strong, young manhood, and are gratified that he was always the most beautiful youth in France, and it gives us pleasure that when he rode out to war at the head of his army, his was the most superb physique. Yet it is not sweet to remember that he allowed the Duchess of Chateaureaux to follow him, and that he went to Metz with his accompanying train like that of an Asiatic monarch.

The people called him the Well-Loved, and he had qualities warranting it, but he chose to exercise those qualities on unworthy objects. The training he had received under the regent had not fitted him to resist temptation, so when it assailed him through the schemes of a corrupt court, he yielded elegantly and often. The reiterated choice of weakness made of him the blindest and most inefficient of rulers, for absorbed in those matters which make for us such picturesque reading, he let affairs of the nation suffer beyond repair. He amused himself with the three de Nesle sisters one after the other, while war was going on; under the enchantment of de Pompadour he senilely ceded the territories by treaty which it had cost the country millions of money and rivers of blood to win. Before the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle he was devoting himself to his favourite; and at the time of settling, sensuality had produced in him the weakness and indecision which led him to say to his astounded generals that he would make a treaty not as a haggling merchant, but with the royal generosity of a king. And thus lightly he gave up all they had won for France.

Certain names mean certain periods, and seem their crystallised essence. The two names of this time which represent its lighter side are Madame de Pompadour, born Antoinette Poisson, and Madame du Barri, born Jeanne Vaubernier.

For the Pompadour the king set artists and factories to work to produce the decorations and the furniture, the paintings and the bibelots that now we prize so dearly. Unlike the favourites of Louis XIV, this woman was of the common people. So also was du Barri, which gives rise to the theory that this is a bourgeois period of art, an attempt to please the taste of bourgeoise and grisette. But the conceptions of the leading artists were not thus debased. They were brilliant and gifted enough to please alike those who understood their art, and those to whom mere prettiness was beguiling.

De Pompadour had her brother put in the place occupied by Colbert, and this gave him the direction of the applied arts. He, with Soufflot, took a journey down into Italy, and from this grew a great matter, one destined to set the note for the next great decorative period. This journey was responsible for the beginning of a pseudo-classic revival.

She worked hard, this brilliant bourgeoise, to satisfy the king's fickle taste and gratify her own untiring vanity. We think of her as leading the lightest of lives, but in reality it was one full of unceasing effort. Voltaire and the philosophers were among her affectations and dealt out much flattery to this woman who ruled in place of the pious queen, Marie Leczinska. As a bit of decoration we tolerate her, but the French feeling can be found in the laconic description of La Rousse in his incomparable dictionary, wherein he says laconically, she was the favourite of Louis XV, and she cost France-not the king, mind - forty millions by her prodigalities.

It was by caprice of du Barri that the Pavilion at Lucennes was made a suitable residence for a king, for this king was more fond of the life of a private gentleman than of regal grandeur. He would at any time desert the palace for the private house of elegance, where he could amuse himself in petty talk, in mixing sauces to pique his palate, in working tapestries to try his manual skill. In the grisette du Barri he found what he needed to amuse him after all else had palled, but France calls her the Doorkeeper of the Revolution.

It were sad indeed if all the beauty and elegance of this time were used only by roues and courtesans. But we can always reflect with satisfaction on the consistent virtue of the queen and her bevy of young daughters, whose tastes also were pleased by the productions of the artists and ateliers.



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