The Directoire Style: A Light Elegance between Revolution and Empire

The Directoire Style, emerging as a transition between the splendor of the Louis XVI Style and the opulence of the Empire, is part of a pivotal period covering the Revolution (1789-1792), the Convention (1792-1795), the Directory (1795-1799) and the Consulate (1799-1804).

The year 1791 saw the suppression of the guilds, and the disappearance of the high-end aristocratic and ecclesiastical clientele plunged the craft into profound disruption.

 

Characteristics of the Directoire Style

The Directoire Style is distinguished by its marked love for ancient art, but with an interpretation imbued with lightness, embodying what we call the “Etruscan” style.

 

Decorative Elements

The floral elements of the previous style persist, with palmettes, Greek sphinxes and griffins, as well as caryatids sometimes topped with a basket. Geometric elements, such as diamonds and hexagons, add a touch of order to this aesthetic.

 

Furniture in the Directoire Period

Furniture from the Directoire period retains the rigid geometric structure of its predecessor, but takes a lighter direction. Furniture legs often take on a sheath shape, generally of a square section.

The use of mahogany and lemonwood in plain veneer is common, with purfling and inlaid designs of ebony or lemonwood. An obvious economy is evident in the simple painting of the motifs, while gilded bronzes are rare. Ridged plates at the top of the uprights add a distinctive touch.

Some furniture dares to use exclusively metal, whether bronze or iron, seeking to imitate those discovered in Pompeii.

The seats have a light look, often with openwork backs and a variety of shapes. The rear legs, inspired by klismos, take on a “saber” shape, and gondola chairs as well as curule chairs gain marked popularity.

The Directoire Style, at the crossroads between tradition and innovation, stands out as a unique chapter in the evolution of design and craftsmanship at the turn of the 19th century.

 

 

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