The Directoire Style In France

Unnoticed beginnings eventuating in a new mode are naturally always at work before the Style itself has sufficiently developed to become recognized. So in the laSt days of Louis Seize we already see some considerable simplification of the mode of that reign in response to the growing Republican tendency of the times and the decided drift toward a more literal classicism. Jacques Louis David, a tremendous classicist of the moSt rigid description and of the wideSt influence in all affairs of art, made painter to the King in 1783, was nine years later—in 1792—eledted to the Convention, ordered the furniture for it, and was "chief manager of the great national festivals and spe<5tacles of the Republic." Later he was patronised by Napoleon, who appointed him his chief painter. It was David who presented to Napoleon Percier and Fontaine, "the creators of the official Empire Style."

One of the world-famous paintings is David's portrait of Mme. Recamier in which she is seated upon a Grecian sofa of his own design. As early as 1790 there existed in his Studio furniture "faithfully imitated from the antique" designed by him and executed by Georges Jacob, the founder of the celebrated dynaSty

—Georges himself 1765-97, his sons Jacob frères 1797 to October 1803, and the surviving son Francis-Honoré, under the title Jacob-Desmalter & Cie, till 1825; the firm continuing in the family till 1847. Each firm ¿tamped the frames of its furniture with a separ* ate mark, but, as we shall have need hereafter to remember in my tracing of the sources of American furniture, we cannot always work these matters out chronologically, for we have not before us everything they made; and, as is well known in France, the later firms continued to make furniture that had originally appeared under Georges the elder, as well as their own designs. A chair made, therefore, by Jacob frères may have been originated by the founder of the family fortunes some few years earlier. They made much other fine furniture, but their great specialties were chairs and sofas.

There were other designers, Dugourc especially, working in the antique or near-antique vein, but the disturbances of the times prevented the actual rendering of many such designs until the Consulate and Empire years.

The Revolution actually began with the sitting of the National Assembly in May 1789, but was not completed till the forming of the Convention and the proclamation of the Republic in September, 1792. The guilds were then suppressed, production discouraged, and comparatively little was again made till »the establishment of the Directorate in 1795. Under that régime and the Consulate, end of 1799, all work was again encouraged, expositions were held, and a museum of applied art announced. Napoleon, as consul for life, in 1802, orders gilded woods as in royal times. On May 18, 1804 he became Emperor.

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