Setting the Scene: 18th Century France

By: Carly Hill, Staff Writer • Apr 10, 2012 • 0 Comments

This week, we’ll be focusing on 18th century French furniture.  Furniture from this time period is known for displaying the highest level of artistic and technical ability.  Latique carries a grand supply of furniture from this time period.  Stop by our blog frequently this week to learn more about 18th century French furniture.

Today, rather than focusing on the commodes and buffets, we’re going to set the scene and take you back in time to what it was like in 18th century France. 

Right at the turn of the century began the War of Spanish Succession which lasted from 1701 to 1714.  The effects of the war nearly caused France to collapse in 1709, but France made it through the war without losing any territory.  The French and Spanish thrones were to never be united.  Immediately following the war, King Louis XIV died, ending his 72 year reign.  The year was 1715, and Louis XIV left France with a massive financial problem that affected the nation for most of the 18th century.  This was due, in part, to his foreign policy and his grandiose construction projects.  Of course, the nation’s financial problems trickled down and left France with more problems such as famine, population decline, failed industries, and a bad memory of their late king.

Louis XV was fortunate to rule during a long period of peace.  France was fresh off of two wars and for most of Louis XV’s rule, there were only minor conflicts.  Although Louis XV was enjoying the throne, the country of France didn’t enjoy him so much.  They were tired of the political system of monarchy and fed up with Louis XV’s sexual escapades and for losing Canada to the British.  Louis XV was not as strong of a leader as his predecessor and the people knew it.  The King’s 59-year reign ended when he died of smallpox in 1774.

Next in line was his grandson, Louis XVI.  Louis XVI was popular at the start, but after a decade, was widely despised for his excessive spending and ignorance.  The thread of disappointing leaders and the devastating state of the French economy and moral led to the French Revolution which began in 1789.   The Enlightenment ideas began to influence society and transform the country from a monarchy into a   equality, citizenship, and inalienable rights.  On September 21, 1792, the French First Republic was established.

It’s beneficial to understand what was going on during the time period to understand the furniture.    Artists and craftsman, at this time, had to abide by very strictly enforced guild regulations.  Stop by on Thursday to learn about French furniture from the 18th century.  Until then, Happy Tuesday and Happy Latiquing!


Photo above is an oil painting depicting the palace of Versailles in the 18th century