Ever wonder whether it's a Rococo or Régence? Louis XV or Louis Philippe? A Bergère or Fauteuil? Each week, we will highlight a word, term, or phrase to help identify antique furniture, periods, and styles.
tor·sade [tawr-sahd, -seyd]
noun [tawr-sahd, -seyd]
1. Furniture. refers to the twisted column that was a chief element in furniture design during the reign of King Louis XIII.
2. Clothing & Fashion. an ornamental twist or twisted cord, as on hats. Also called barley twist from barley sugar twist.
Origin: 1880–85; < French: from obsolete tors twisted, from Late Latin torsus, from Latin torquēre to twist.
Torsade or Barley Twist Leg
In French design, the spiral shape known as a torsade became a major element of the Louis XIII style. The shape dates back to 333 AD when Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, brought back a pair of helix shaped columns from Jerusalem to be used in the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. According to tradition, these columns, known as Solomonic columns, were originally used as structural pillars for the roof of the Temple of Solomon.
Gianlorenzo Bernini's Baldacchino in St. Peter's Basilica
A new basilica was constructed in 1506, and the same spiral columns were preserved and used in the new architecture. They still stand, built into the supports of the church across from Gianlorenzo Bernini’s Baldacchino (one of the greatest examples of Solomonic columns), and are viewed by the millions of visitors to the site every day.
Intricately carved French church alter front and back
Often used in altars or on the dial case doors of late 17th and early 18th century longcase clocks, as well as the legs of French, Dutch and English furniture, these intricately carved twisted columns gained popularity in the Catholic regions of Europe and became a feature of the Baroque style.
While English collectors and dealers often refer to the twisted shape as barley sugar twist after the sweet barley sugar twist stick candy that resembled the 17th and early 18th century leg, the French prefer torsade or barley twist.
1. Louis XIII style barley twist dining chairs 2. 18th century Louis XIII style walnut armoire 3. French Louis XIII style barley twist side table 4. Rare Louis XIII open barley twist writing table
It's easy to add a French Twist to any decor! Try it...
post originally appeared on Lolo's French Bloguette
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When this self-described Francophile is not reading or writing about all things French, she's dreaming up charming new ways to showcase Lolo French Antiques et More or traveling to France with Lolo to buy delightful treasures for their store. Mimi, Lolo, and their new French Bulldog, Duke, live in Birmingham, AL.