The impact that the Queen of France had on decorative arts was significant and it ushered in a ‘golden age’ of French art and design during the Neoclassical period. Originally from Austria Marie became Queen at the young age of 19 and was infamous during her time in the monarchy for lavish spending, frivolous extravagance and overdone social parties. She rebuffed the traditional roles of the royal family and instead engrossed herself in having a life dedicated to fashion, luxury and excess.
All of this during a period of social unrest and financial debt within France meant that the Queen was highly unpopular with the French people and public option of her was frequently hostile. However the significance she played within creative design is uncompromising and you only have to look at the interiors of places such as Versailles and Fontainebleau to understand the sophistication, imagination and splendour she encouraged.During her reign as Queen, social customs and fashions were shifting, including the altering of dresses and skirts which were wider with a frame underneath the fabric to hold it in place. This meant seating needed to accommodate these fashions, such as lower more comfortable chairs, small sofas or a chaise lounge. Interiors and furnishings in general became more informal, comfortable yet did not wavier in style and refinement. Themes of nature and florals appeared within wallpapers and fabric patters, such as ivy and jasmine garlands and the colours were pale pastels in greens, blues and pinks. There was a unique feminine hint to the interiors that Marie would inspire and were reflective of the French Neoclassical era. Individual rooms would each have their own character and style, for example within Chateau de Fontainebleau there was Turkish inspired salon, an Arabic themed bedroom and a playful games room. Themes would motivate the décor of an interior and the colour scheme would often concentrate on two main tones.
Another trend of the era exhibited by Marie Antoinette was very tall and white powered hair styles. In order to have her hair shaped in this fashion she would have to sit for long periods of time and turn as each side was styled. This inspired the swivel chair which meant she could sit comfortably whilst her hair was attended to.
Marie Antoinette interiors included floral marquetery, decorative panelling and beautiful ceiling paintings enthused and employed by artists such as Jean-Henri Riesener, François Boucher and Jules Antoine Lissajous. Georges Jacobs was a cabinet maker that crafted beds, chairs and sofas for the royal family including carved, panelled, upholstered and gilded furnishings.
There was a characteristically ‘Sophisticated French’ look we have come to know as Marie Antoinette style that enhanced a sense of elegance, regel beauty and femininity during a period of turbulence and political and social turmoil within the nation. Furniture highlighted classical elements such as friezes, pilasters and pediments. Indulgence and grace was manifested amid opulent interiors, furnishings and even accessories such as the velvet dog kennel, the ultimate luxurious and lavish item.