The Second Empire style or Napoleon III style is marked by a return to luxury and the taste of luxury. It is inspired by the richest influences of furniture, especially those of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The Empress Eugenie, who was passionate about Marie Antoinette, strongly encouraged the production of furniture of this period, attests to the recurring presence of the attributes of Louis XVI style: the flowered basket and the knots of ribbon.
Characteristics of the Napoleon III style:
One of the major features of the Napoleon III furnishing is the extreme richness of the ornament and decoration. The ornamentations in gilded bronze are present in superabundance, richly worked and very neat.
Napoleon III furniture is often made of veneer or marquetry. Some abandoned techniques are thus restored to the taste of the day: the marquetry Boulle or Martin varnish. The decorations with mother-of-pearl inlay, tortoise shell or porcelain plates are very fashionable. To highlight these inlays, blackened wood is preferred, replacing the use of natural wood.
The Industrial Revolution is on the way, and new methods of work and materials (such as paper mache or rattan) are emerging. Metal became more and more important at that time, especially cast iron, which served as a structure or a base for many pieces of furniture.
Cabinetmakers mainly work in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine and recruit their clientele in the bourgeoisie which developed in the nineteenth century.
The garniture of fabric is characteristic of this time. The fabric upholstery is used to hide the chassis and even the entire structure of the furniture. They are sometimes extended by skirts of fringes.
Furniture characteristic of the Napoleon III style:
- Armchair "confident" and "indiscreet"
- The ottoman
- The sulky (kind of couch)
- Games table
- Tilting table
- Offices of all kinds
- Pianos and billiards
Wood used: mahogany, walnut, pear, black beech, rosewood, ebony, oak, rosewood, amaranth ...