French Architecture and Furniture Styles ........Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary.

French Directoire (Directory)

Directoire (Directory) style

In French interior decoration and costume, the manner prevailing about the time of the Directory (1795-99), from which the name is derived.

It followed the Louis XVI (Neoclassical) period and was the transition from the Greek styles of Louis XVI to the Egyptian and Roman qualities of the Napoleon I Empire style.

Essentially a continuation of the classic tradition of the Louis XVI style with the addition of Revolutionary motifs: symbols of liberty, triumphal arches, liberty caps, spirit levels, pikes, oak boughs,clasped bands.

Egyptian motifs were also introduced as well as martial Roman elements like spearheads, drums serving as stools, etc.

A style transitional between Louis XVI (Neoclassical) and Empire, it is characterized by a departure from the sumptuousness of the aristocratic regime.

Furniture became more angular and severe; marquetry was replaced by large surfaces of painted and waxed wood. These new forms and the continued taste for Greco-Roman design, which forecast the Empire style, were established by the architects Percier and Fontaine and the artist Jacques-Louis David.

The chemise gown with low neckline and high waistline, inspired by antiquity, pervaded women's fashion. The incroyables, dandies of the period, favored tight breeches and coats with wide lapels.

Directoire (Directory)

Group of five men who held the executive power in France according to the constitution of the year III (1795) of the French Revolution. They were chosen by the new legislature, Council of Elders (or Ancients), and by the Council of Five Hundred; each year one director was to be replaced. Governing a nearly bankrupt nation, the Directory had a stormy history. Discontent with the Directory rose to a high pitch with the military reverses of 1799. Director Abbé Sieyés secretly prepared the coup on November 9, 1799, which put Bonaparte in power and replaced the Directory with the Consulate.

The Consulate form of government (1799-1804) provided for three consuls to be appointed, one of whom was Napoleon Bonaparte who was made first consul for life in 1802 and emperor in 1804.

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