The Louisquatorze

powerful divergent beams, clearly indicates for whom the apartment was designed. The furniture, to which this painted and gilded woodwork forms a setting, calls for no special comment beyond that already made, save that I may point out that a comparison of the legs of the pier table with some of the earlier forms of the " Chippendale " chair leg, may be instituted with results both interesting and instructive.

In concluding this chapter, and before proceeding to review the u Louis-Quinze," I must reiterate what I have previously written upon what may be regarded in the study of early French work as a puzzling confusion in style. It must, I repeat, be fully understood that changes in style were not, by any manner of means, exactly coincident with changes in monarchy; while one style was at its zenith the seeds of that which was destined to follow had been sown, and were steadily germinating and fructifying. It is in this way that forms which we now regard as " Louis-Quinze," for instance, are found to have been designed and made at a time considerably prior to the period with which that mode is generally associated. The 11 Louis-Seize " bed is found in the bedroom of one of the favourites of Louis the Fifteenth, and so on ; and to draw a hard-and-fast line of demarcation is quite impossible. We can only class characteristics with certainty, and must not be guided altogether by dates.


Whether we agree or not with the idea that the character of a man, or of a nation, may be, in a certain measure, gauged from the character of his or their domestic surroundings, certain it is that the theory advanced receives striking demonstration in the styles in decoration and furniture which were originated and prevailed in France during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as during the earlier years of the nineteenth. The reign of Louis the Fourteenth, at the work of which we have glanced in the preceding chapter, was one of national reorganisation and empire building; conquests abroad, and the rehabilitation of affairs at home, were the order of the day, and these were accompanied by a spectacular display of pomp and magnificence of which the complete history never has been, and probably never will be, written. It was pomp and magnificence in the fullest sense of the words; for, while the eye was delighted with the splendours by which the court and all that appertained to national affairs were surrounded, the delight was ever tinged to a greater or less degree by a sensation of awe and oppression at the magnitude of it all. The spirit of domination and triumph pervaded the whole " setting,1' and it seemed to be the one particular aim of the artist, as well as of the statesman, to emphasise and perpetuate that theme to the utmost, doing all that was within his power to make it agreeable to the senses. Dumas sums up this phase of the matter admirably in writing of Versailles—that masterpiece of Mansart, Le Brun, and Le Nôtre—when he says : " Louis the Fourteenth, the creator of etiquette, a system which shut up each individual within bounds beyond which he could not

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