This style came about in France during the reign of the Sun King, and is defined by pomp and splendour; it spread based on the example of furnishings of the royal residences (especially Versailles), greatly influencing the style and decor of furniture from all over Europe.
Driven by the desire to give to the French throne a prestigious foundation, in 1662 Louis XIV founded the “Manifacture Royale des Meubles de la Couronne” headquartered at Gobelins; management of this vast structure, which included carpenters, cabinetmakers, upholsterers, sculptors, plasterers, embroiderers, goldsmiths, etc., was given to the first court painter, Charles Le Brun, whose taste of courtly solemnity left its mark on all products.
A typical characteristic of Louis XIV style is that of gilded furniture, where the architectural structures are almost hidden by the exuberance of ornamental reliefs – exaggerated fullness, dramatic contrast of colour, and passion for exotic styles are also strong themes that have characterized the style of Louis XIV.
The importance of the furniture as an expression of wealth and power is also found in the more elaborate materials used for this style, such as ivory, tortoiseshell, brass, horn and imported Japanese lacquer.
Towards the end of the reign of Louis XIV, the design of the furnishings took on a delicate and curved contour of “rocaille”, which moved away from any reference to the architectural form, anticipating the upcoming style.