French Frames: Spanning the periods of French frames


Louis XIII reigns (1610-1643) (the style affected frames in the second half of the 17th century)
Louis XIV style (1643-1715)
Règence style (1715-1723)
Louis XV style (1723-1774)
Louis XVI style reigns (1774-1793) (the style was popular several years before)

Italian influence was strong in the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries. Frame-making in France developed in an unprecedented way from mid-century to the Revolution. Their workshop operated until the reign of Louis XVI. The terms Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Règence, Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Empire were styles in French frames that extended for over 150 years. These styles were not necessarily congruent with the reign they denote. Certain Louis XIII frames reflect their Italian leaf prototypes. Late 17th century Louis XIII-Louis XIV center corners are comparable to earlier Italian and Spanish leaf frames. Mature Louis XIV frames, usually with an ogee profile, introduced motifs like scallop shells, or anthemia set in cartouches at centers and corners. The term Règence is used for a style characteristic of a combination of Louis XIV and Louis XV frames. The hallmarks of the Louis XV style are the predominance of curved lines and the abundance of naturalistic carving that overwhelms rectangular boundaries. A marked change in the French frame style happened towards the end of the 18th century, and it began with the Louis XVI.

The opulence of swept sides, convoluted corners, and foliate embellishments subsided in favor of simple, geometric silhouettes with decorations derived from classical architecture. The French Empire continued the classicizing fashion of those of Louis XVI frames, but in a more stringent way. They were flat with raised edges or ogee moldings, and their typical decoration was applied composition ornaments with motifs derived from ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian sources. By the first half of the 19th century, the picture frame was reduced to a plain, functional object. In the second half of the 19th century in France, French neo-Louis XIII frames came to be known as Barbizon frames and they survived very well.

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