Understanding Antique Louis XV Furniture

History of the period:

Louis XV was the grandson of King Louis XIV and ruled France from 1715 to 1774. He is best known for being one of the most unpopular kings of France. During his reign, he managed to upset almost every social group in his country, but surprisingly, in his own unique way, that segregation of his people has led to antique furniture from the Louis XV period being some of the most sought after French furniture in the world. world. world.

Due to the imbalance of his country, the remaining furniture of Louis XV is seen as a great treasure that presages a time of serious public unrest in France and symbolizes the determination of its people as a whole but, in particular, in its furniture designers for continue to inspire, create and deliver a legacy of beautiful, intricate and detailed furniture that remains a coveted design style to this day.

Despite all the things that went wrong with Louis XV’s reign as King of France, one thing that is undeniable is the detailed quality of the furniture that emerged from this dark time in French history to show something quite the opposite, both elegant and elegant. flowing, in a time of gloomy misery.

What makes Louis XV furniture Louis XV furniture?

There are a number of revealing design features that articulate this style of design. It is quite common to hear or see furniture incorrectly described as Louis XV, when in fact it is Louis XIV. What separates the two is quite distinctive, and I’ll list them below.

Louis XV furniture it is:

  • Designed with more curves
  • Free flowing shapes and forms.
  • It’s not made with straight lines, straight cuts, or anything that looks angular.
  • Intricately carved and seemingly infinitely detailed.
  • Hand painted
  • Shells tend to form the focal points of every design.
  • Symbolic of romance, sensuality and love.
  • light and elegant

Louis XV furniture It is not:

  • Depends on presence to assert its claim, like gothic furniture
  • Made with straight cuts
  • Large, bulky, or angular
  • strong and masculine
  • machine painted
  • machine cut

You will find that Louis XIV furniture is completely opposite in style to Louis XV, and where I have listed the above points that are not associated with Louis XV, you will tend to find these same characteristics present in Louis XIV furniture, for example. , it will be more angular and less graceful, more in line with a masculine force of style than a romantic and graceful touch as seen in Louis XV furniture. It’s a very common mistake, probably due to similarities in name, but it’s vital when identifying your antique furniture to get the periods correct, as it can unsurprisingly cause chaos for the buyer at auction!

The next problem that I tend to see quite often in my field is replicas being deceptively sold as originals.

Identification of antique Royal Louis XV furniture

Yes, as sad as it is, there will always be those among us who feel the need to misrepresent antiques for personal gain by selling copies or replicas. When shopping for antiques, especially online, be sure to use a respected dealer, such as LJR Windwake & Sons, or a dealer who specializes in your desired style, in this case a Louis XV antique furniture specialist. It’s vitally important to be extremely scrupulous when buying antiques online from auction sites or dealers, but luckily, I’ve got some great tips on how to make sure the piece of furniture you’re buying is the right one. real deal.

1. Ask for details on how the cabinet was made

Be sure to ask the seller to explain how the piece was made, making sure they describe the joints in the wood. If they are visible, and note that an ‘ancient’ woodwork would not be cut by machine, but by hand, ask him to describe them to you. Hand cut joints will most likely be rougher and perhaps not as exact as machine cut joints, which should be a good indication of originality and the antique you are buying is actually an ‘antique’ and not something that was removed from a production line in Shenzhen, China, 2006.

The best way to find a cutout is to remove a drawer and take a close look at where the drawer front and back attach to the drawer sides. If a joint were made by hand, it would be dovetailed and would have only a few dovetailed joints, and they would not be exactly uniform. If the dovetails are close together and cut accurately, it will have been machine cut. Handmade dovetails almost always indicate a piece made before 1860.

2. Look for imperfections like nicks and cuts

Another great way to help identify the validity of an antique or handmade piece of furniture would be to look closely for nicks and cuts on the back, sides, and bottom of the drawer. Nicks and cuts usually indicate that a hand tool was used to plan, shave, or cut the wood. Straight cuts, the kind you’d get with a straight saw, are also good signs, while cuts that appear circular mean the cut was made with a circular saw, which again wasn’t used until after 1860.

3. Exact symmetry? No way!

This is probably the easiest telltale sign of machine-made versus hand-made furniture. If something looks exactly symmetrical, it’s likely been cut by machines, so be sure to request plenty of photos of the piece of furniture you’re buying.

4. Request a detailed description of the finish

The style of the finish is also a great way to identify the age of a Louis XV piece. Certain finishes were in use at different periods, which is a great way to identify the age of your antique furniture. For Louis XV, everything should be hand painted. Hand painting is often identified by slight imperfections in brush strokes or edges, although some of the best Louis XV will show no sign of human error, because the quality was so high that it is always advisable to ask for photographs of all paintings. especially for blemishes, as these can ADD value to your furniture.

5. Make sure the seller explains the type of wood used in manufacturing

This is often a simple method of measuring an age because usually, as a rule of thumb, anything before 1700 was made of oak, 1700 onwards (ours was Louis XV), mahogany and walnut were the woods. chosen. if it is pine, it usually indicates an American piece of furniture and is usually indicative of slightly cheaper works. Really valuable and vintage Louis XV antique treasures will be made of mahogany or walnut.


Always be careful when shopping for antique furniture, but if you’re thinking of buying it, be sure to do as much research as possible before going to auction houses. It is also highly recommended to go to an auction with a specific object in mind. Visit open houses, take your notes, go home and research what you’ve seen and then go to auctions with a renewed knowledge of your purchase and always, always try to get as much information from the seller as possible, whether it’s buying online or at an auction house.

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