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lacquer/lacquer work: Oriental varnish obtained from the sap of the lacquer tree. Gave a high-gloss finish to furniture in Europe in the 17th century. Mother-of-pearl, coral and metals were often inlaid in the lacquer to create a decorative effect.
ladder back: A chair back in which horizontal cross rails give a ladder effect.
Lalique: A luminous, transparent glass introduced in the early 20th century by Rene Lalique of France. Most of his designs have a sculptural quality achieved by pressing and alternating a dull with a polished surface.
lambrequin: A border pattern giving a draped effect, such as an ornamental motif terminating in scallops simulating swags of drapery with tassels. Probably from the Middle Dutch word lamperkijn for veil.
lattimo: Opaque white glass with a name derived from the Italian latte or milk. Milk glass.
lavabo: A washstand or washbowl, often with a fountain or water supply.
linen fold: Form of carving which imitates the vertical folds of drapery, especially characteristic of gothic design.
lit: A 17th-19th century French bed.
lit de repos: A French daybed.
lithograph: A print made by putting writing or designs on stone with a greasy material, and producing printed impressions from this process.
loupe: Abnormal growth on a tree that produces mottled or speckled patterns in the cross section of wood and is very prized in veneers. Literally, "burl."
Louis Philippe Period (1830-1848): Louis Philippe style French furniture emulates the furniture popular during the reign of Louis Philippe I, the Citizen King, and a popular figurehead who led a less than lavish lifestyle. Similarly, the furniture named after him is beautiful for its simplicity. It epitomizes elegance and tends to be less ornate and more refined than other styles, with flat panels and a lack of moldings. Straight and smooth support posts are bare of ornament and their corners are rounded with few decorative motifs. Armoires are recognizable by their wide cornice, tall body and raised feet. Like the Louis styles, these are much imitated, but originals tend to be beautifully constructed and cleverly fully knockdown.
Louis XIII Period (1610-1643): Louis XIII furniture features massive, solid construction with geometric carving, sturdy and heavy compared to later styles. Diamond point, pyramid patterns and large, bun feet on cabinetry are common decorative themes. Other typical design themes include putti, fruit, scrolls, flowers, swags, cartouches, ball and claw, chimeras, acanthus leaves, scallop shells, cornucopias, bulging vases, grotesque masks and lion and ram heads. Chairs were high back with a round shape or low back and square in shape with elaborately turned legs and stretchers, which help identify pieces as Louis XIII style. Leather, tapestries and fine fabrics were nailed directly to the chair’s wooden framework; seats and backs were padded. The Os de Mouton chair is the most notable example of the era, with legs shaped like those of a lamb.
Louis XIV Period (1643-1715): The era of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, marked the definite end of the Renaissance period in France and the beginning of a series of distinct period furniture styles, the first being the enormously influential Baroque. Louis XIV style is marked by dignity, grandeur, bold effects, lavish but not excessive ornament, and faultless workmanship. Curves were modest, straight lines prominent and elaborate ornamentation reigned supreme. Chairs varied, ranging from the stool to the high back padded armchair, which was more like a throne, with heavy carvings and rich upholstery. Most chairs from this period have stretchers. One of the most common styles of French chairs is the fauteuil. Design motifs backed Louis XIV as all powerful. Furniture was interlaced with the "L" initial, fleur de lis and the sunburst. Other popular motifs include: acanthus leaves, arabesques, musical instruments, human and animal grotesques, sphinxes, gryphons and lion’s head and paws.
Louis XV Period (1723-1774): Louis XV style is the epitome of French furniture at its finest, regarded by many as the Golden Age of French furniture. A period of grand creativity, influenced by royal mistresses like Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry. Comfort was all the rage in the 18th century. Louis XV style was designed for the comfort and glorification of beautiful women. With its romantic, sensuous and feminine look, the asymmetrical, more ornate and more playful Rococo style was born. The Louis XV chair became smaller, more feminine and more comfortable with the addition of springs. Shells, baskets/sprays of flowers, ribbons, symbols of love (bows, arrows and torches) and pastoral and romantic emblems (crooks and straw shepherdess hats) became popular motifs, many of these carved into crest rails, aprons and the knees of chair legs. The easiest way to spot a Louis XV chair is by the signature “S” shaped cabriole leg. Stretcher supports disappeared from French chairs after the invention of curved cabriole legs.
Louis XVI Period (1774-1792): Louis XVI style is characterized by simple construction and design, lines are elegant but subtle, delicate without being too feminine. Superfluous ornament, rococo tendencies and baroque excess was no longer popular. In an attempt to show their understanding of the resentment of the common French people, the rich and bourgeois began to favor furniture that was less frivolous, creating the perfect environment for Neoclassicism. There is much use of egg and dart, carved friezes, oak and laurel leaf, wreaths and cornucopias. Architectural motifs like fluted columns were prevalent. Moulding, gold leaf, painted wood and rosette carvings atop legs were also common. Chair backs tend to be rectangular, oval or shaped like a shield, and in that respect less comfortable. While the Louis XV chair doesn't have a single straight line, the Louis XVI chair always has at least straight legs – instead of the "S" shaped cabriole leg of the Rococo chair. The most popular of the Louis styles today, its clean lines complement contemporary interiors and place an emphasis on straight lines and right angles, seriousness, logical design and more classically inspired motifs.
lustre: French term for a chandelier or other lighting. Also a metallic, sometimes iridescent, form of decoration.
lyre back: A decorative motif in the form of a lyre used especially in the splat of chairs in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Ladder Back Chairs
Louis Philippe Style Buffet Deux Corps