Directoire, French Empire

Neoclassism dominates the time period, although it changes in response to political and social developments. The French Revolution, which begins with great hopes of changing injustices in the political an social systems, deteriorates into terror, violence, and random destruction. Members of all classes are executed, including King Louis XVI and his queen. Then a five-person Directory, as stipulated by the new constitution, begins to govern France from 1795-1799. Some restoration amongst the country takes place…but not substantial.

So as for the architecture of the period, concepts included:
-three styles emerge: Directoire, Consulate, and Empire
-architecture, interiors, and furniture reveal symmetry, horizontality, proportions evolving from slender to heavier in style, classical details, and an emphasis upon archaeological correctness (meaning accuracy of the design)

But this is what you really need to remember for the Directoire time period:
1. classical forms and motifs dominate the architecture
2. they have a fancy for ancient forms
3. scale evolves from small to light to larger, bolder, and more monumental
4. Directoire – reflect charm and grace of Louis XVI, forms and motifs are simplistic, focus on ancient Greek concepts and designs
5. Empire – grandeur of Egypt and Rome, pompous, formal, and more masculine furniture selections, assert France’s dominance
6. types: some form of monument to Napoleon that emulates ancient models (no new building types are introduced)
7. site orientaion: Napoleon commands palaces to be cleared to open space and the restoration of public gardens
8. floor plans: rectangular in form, symmetrically distributed
9. materials: stone with iron balconies at the windows, cast iron is introduced and used for bridges, domes and support
10. facades: little ornament and few details, columns are known to surround buildings
11. windows: rectangular windows, large and small, along facades of both state and lesser buildings
12. doors: imposing with columns or pilasters and pediments identifying them
12. roofs: flat with balustrades, pyramidal or gabled with a low pitch in the antique manner

I know that was a lot to read. But now is the fun part …PICTURES!!

Now on toward the Furniture!
Classical attributes, forms, and motifs define furniture from Directoire to Empire. For inspiration, desingers were often found studying Pompeii, vase paintings, and stucco reliefs.
Types: New! Sofa and center tables! round tables with basins and pitchers.
Features: closely resembles Louis XVI but when you look at the rolled back chair, saber leg, emphasis on Grecian prototypes and motifs related to the Revolution….it distinctly is of its own.

Moving onward to Symbols and Motifs!
Classical Motifs appear extensively throughout the period as embellishment and include the classical figure, acanthus leaf, swag, rinceau, rosette, anthemonium, scroll, arabesque, cartouche, vase and the lyre. Common also during Directoire are lozenges, rosettes, spirals, and symbols of the Revolution (oak leaves and clasped hands). Then the funniest thing to me, being when Napoleon decides to make a campaign to Egypt and he comes back in deep love with Egyptian items: such as the motifs, sphinxes, obelisks, pyramids, and head-dresses of pharaohs.

Lastly we move into the Decorative Arts portion of our Journey đŸ™‚
Window Treatments become a huge sensation at this period in time as does wallpaper. Porcelain becomes large, monumental and completely covered with applied or painted decoration. Fancy guilded borders are common to accompany frames. Mantel clocks also have a rise in popularity and become more grand.

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