French Provincial Architecture ...............French FURNITURE styles................... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary
French Provincial / French
Provincial Revival furniture styles
AKA French Country Style
The term usually associated with simplified furniture of the Louis XV or Rococo style. However, plain furniture was made in the provinces in all times and styles, usually of walnut, oak, or fruitwood.
Provincial furniture is simpler in line than the prevailing high fashion and rarely veneered or decorated with marquetry or ornate carving.
"The buffet and cupboard forms are the most important provincial types... The armoire also developed in variety according to local usage... Straw-seated chairs ... The panetiere, or breadbox, is universal, as are wall shelves and knife boxes." - The New Encyclopedia of Furniture, by Joseph Aronson. Crown Publishers, 1967, p. 231.
As the styles of the French court gained attention, they were popularized in less expensive and smaller-scaled adaptations for less ostentatious interiors. French Provincial, more informally known as French Country Style, mutes down the exuberance of Louis XV and XVI design into a less showy, more serene, and considerably less labor-intensive rendering of the Rococo, or occasionally Neoclassical style.
The French Provincial interior strips off the elaborate Rococo framework of boiserie and ornament, replacing it with walls paneled in light wood or fabric. The curvilinear silhouettes and asymmetry of the style adapt well to such understatement, which retains its outlines but avoids carving beyond simple panel shapes. In lighter and more accessible local woods, the furniture is both better suited to the ambiance of a country residence, and more affordable as well. Finishes are less showy, avoiding the high-gloss, high-maintenance French polishes used in the court styles.
Window treatments are also simpler, often using the printed-linen toiles in bucolic pastoral scenes that have become associated with the style. French Provincial is an evolution of the most fashionable Gallic styles, but rendered with a lighter hand and a casual air.