When I first began trying to decorate my family’s home, I used to get stressed about what “period” and “style” I wanted to follow. I guess the art historian in me was initially uncomfortable with mixing objects from different categories. Thankfully, I got over that when I realized that if I just invested only in things I really loved, a style would emerge organically. I’m still obsessed with labeling furniture styles, though, and I finally identified the name of the style I am most often drawn to–Directoire.
Just as the late 1700s saw France transition from an absolute monarchy to a democracy, the Directoire style marks the transition from the rococo excess of the Louis XVI style to the neoclassical grandeur of furniture made during the imperial reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. It takes its name from the Directory–the government of directors that emerged during the French Revolution and lasted from 1795 until 1799. The increased taste for classical forms–spurred, perhaps, by revolutionary interest in ancient republics–is reflected in the furniture and its ornamentation as well as in the Neoclassical painting championed by such giants as Jacques-Louis David (who actually designed some furniture in this style). The French design firm Maison Jansen manufactured reproduction furniture in this style during the 20th century, infusing the neoclassical severity of the Directoire style with the glamor of Hollywood Regency. I love Jansen’s ebonized pieces–their elongated, simplified lines and delicate proportions balance out the ostentatious gilt accents and marble tops.
From top left: 19th century painted officer’s trunks, available at Portuondo (via 1st Dibs); detail of a Directoire style console table, available at James & Jeffrey Antiques (via 1st Dibs); 20th century gueridon, available at Marcia Sherill at Roland Antiques (via 1st Dibs); 19th century arm chairs, available at Thomas Jolly Antiques (via 1st Dibs) 18th century French daybed, available at Alhambra Antiques (via 1st Dibs); Maison Jansen Directoire style desk, available at Greenwich Living (via 1st Dibs)
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How about you? As always, I’d love to see your links to what’s inspiring you this weekend!