Louis XVI and French Provincial Architecture

“Rejecting the unclassical Rococo and responding to the renewed interest in antiquity, Louis XVI style is a return to classicism.”

Louis XVI takes the throne in 1774. He inherits a massive debt from the people. Overall, Louis means well but does not know how to govern the people in a way to solve the multiple of problems that Louis XV left him. Eventually the monarchy is overthrown in 1792, France is declared a republic, the king is convicted as a traitor, war is declared on France, the king is guillotined in 1793 and the queen, priests, and commoners of the court are executed.

But during the reign of Louis XVI, architecture was still moving forward with the rest of the world, no matter the impact of governmental recession. Architecture reflects the rationalist views of its designers, who strive for geometric volumes, structural honesty, and simplicity. Structures are blocklike with plain facades and minimal ornamentation. Designers, using antique models that supply form and details, often exactly reproduce individual parts, such as columns, but rarely copy entire buildings. The scale of buildings varies from monumental to elegant and refined. Proportions are broad and often derive from antique sources. Designers emphasize horizontals, clarity, stability, and repose. Provincial means rustique or regional refering to houses, interiors, and furniture of the peasants and bourgeoisie in the rural areas of France from the reigns of Louis XIII through the French Empire.

Things to remember about Louis XVI and French Provincial Architecture:
1. Older building types, such as churches, palaces, and hotels continue.
2. New building types, such as markets, hospitals, theaters, and auditoriums are constructed.
3. most structures face streets or squares.
4. adapt antique floor plans to the modern, but still apply logic to the planning
5. materials include brick, stone, and marble
6. exteriors are often composed of large geometric blocks and plain walls
7. walls are smooth and flat to emphasize volume
8. windows are large and rectangular with plain and relatively flat surrounds
9. doors are emphasized with columns, pilasters, pediments, and rustication and central placement

Below are some examples of Louis XVI architecture:
1. Place de la Concord 2. Another photo of Place de la Concord 3. Le Hameau 4. Petit Trianon 5. Pantheon (Saint Genevieve)

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