French Furniture - Table of Contents .......... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

French Furniture Glossary


French for large, movable clothes wardrobe or closet, originally one used to store armor.

Contains shelves, hanging space, and sometimes drawers.

Usually an important piece of furniture.


An all-upholstered low armchair, usually with exposed wood frame and enclosed sides. The upholstered arms are shorter than the length of the seat, and a soft loose pillow rests on a fabric-covered seat platform.

The bergere was similar to the fauteuil, but was completely upholstered including the sides and the arms.

Introduced in the Louis XIV (Baroque) period and also popular in the Louis XVI (Neoclassical) period. Variations are still produced today.


Originally, a 17th-century small, two-seater couch covered with a canopy. The canopy was later removed but the name still applied to a small sofa.




In France, ebony, the only wood heavier than water gave its name to the craftsmen who used it - the "ébénistes" or cabinetmakers. Sawn by hand, the sheets of wood differed in thickness by more than one millimeter.

See also Charles-Honoré Lannuier


French for armchair. An upholstered armchair with open sides, usually with upholstered arm or elbow pads.

Popularized in the Louis XIV (Baroque) period; the arms originally were placed directly over the front legs. In the Regence and Louis XV (Rococo) periods, the arms were set farther back, and the legs were shortened. In contrast, the early Renaissance armchairs were not usually upholstered.

Charles LeBrun directed the completion of the palace interior, and the workshops of the Gobelins produced some of the finest examples of interior furnishings made during the seventeenth century in the Louis XIV (Baroque) style. Since the scale of the palace was monumentally oversized, the furniture was proportioned accordingly. Louis XIV himself stood an astounding 6 feet 3 inches (unusually tall for the period), and since his comfort was a primary concern for LeBrun, chairs were adequately oversized and not scaled for normal stature.

A typical French Baroque armchair, or fauteuil, has a tall rectangular back framed by carved wooden arms. The back and seat were usually upholstered; however, some had cane backs. The arms placed lower toward the front of the chair than at the back allowed for a more relaxed positioning of the arm. Various leg forms were used; however, the square pedestal type was more common. Since some fauteuils weighed a hefty sixty pounds each, stretcher systems, either saltier or H-form, were necessary to support the massive carved legs and frames.

Although the frames for chairs and other furniture items made for Versailles were of carved wood, most were gilded with either gold or silver. Written accounts specifically refer to furnishings made exclusively of silver. Unfortunately, the solid silver items were melted down when France suffered extreme financial burdens late in the century.


French Provincial



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