While referring to the French style of furniture, most people often think about the grand royal style common in the kings’ courts. French furniture, however, has another equally elegant style known as the provincial furniture. It was the royal style that took center stage in the 18th century. But people are now having a renewed interest in provincial furniture. Thus, the value of French provincial furniture has soared.
Why the term ‘provincial?’
During the kings’ rule, all places outside of Paris were referred to as provinces. Thus, the styles that evolved from the countryside came to be known as provincial styles. They were originally developed as an affordable and rustic counterpart of the royal furniture. Provincial pieces of furniture carried a similar grandeur to the luxurious pieces of furniture. The wealthier families residing in the provinces used them.
How to identify the provincial style?
The provincial style of furniture emerged from regions such as Normandy, Provence, and Bordeaux. Local carpenters from these places had little or no contact with the Parisian elite. Thus, each province in the countryside had its unique provincial style that local artisans’ skillful hands developed. There is no uniform provincial style.
However, some unique markers are common to the provincial style. One such feature is the cabriole legs. It is a feature used to identify French provincial furniture uniquely. Tables/chairs with cabriole legs have curved legs with a double arch.
Another common feature is carving. The local craftsmen used to make carvings on the wooden pieces to add to their beauty. One can find carvings of flowers and mythological creatures on vintage pieces.
What distinguishes it from the royal furniture?
These pieces of furniture were not high-maintenance like the ones in the royal mansions. The main difference was in the finish – the royal pieces of furniture had a glossy finish, while painted finishes are common in provincial styles.