French Antique Furniture

Sparrows Inc’s selection of antique French furniture ranges from late 18th century through the first quarter of the 20th century. We specialize in French period country furniture, period and revival styles of the late 19th century and period Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Art Moderne. Visit our Online Gallery for examples of current stock items of antique French furniture of all styles and types. If you do not find pieces which meet your specific needs, please contact us for a review of our inventory not yet online.

French Period Country Furniture

Paris asserted its dominance over the rest of France as a center of excellence in the design and manufacture of luxury goods as early at the 17th century. France’s other major cities copied as closely as they could the lead being set by Paris, but the craftsmen of the countryside, perhaps more influenced by factors of cost and practicality, created their own look using local materials. In antique country furniture, Sparrows carries armoires, benches, chests, farm tables, and tallcase clocks of the late 18th-early 19th centuries from regions as diverse as Brittany, Lorraine, Bordeaux and Provence. By the late 19th century, the less formal nature of the country styles became popular among segments of the middle class, and this lifestyle split between country and formal continued throughout the twentieth century.  Sparrows finds high-quality examples of country furniture produced through about 1940. 

French Empire Furniture

The Empire period (1804-1815) in antique French furniture embraced what was monumental in ancient art. Dominated by Greco-Roman models, this style was spare, rectilinear and symmetrical. Mahogany was the wood of choice often with decorative bronze mounts and gray, black or white marble tops. Decorative elements characteristic of Empire included the human form, swans, winged chimeras, and sphinxes; Egyptian and Greco-Roman motifs; geometric forms, and those associated with Napoleon himself, the eagle, the bee and the initials I and N. 

French Restauration Furniture

The Restauration period (1815-1830) in antique French furniture was characterized by simple harmonious lines, gentle rounded forms and fine ornamentation. Light woods such as ash, elm and bird’s eye maple were used along with dark woods such as mahogany and palisander. The craftsmen employed veneers and inlay and the use of light wood inlay against dark wood grounds or dark wood inlays set into blond grounds, the latter of which was especially popular during the reign of Charles X. Typical decorative motifs included the swan, cornucopia, lyre, rosettes and gadrooning. Forms that Sparrows Inc may have include antique commodes, consoles, clocks, daybeds, occasional tables, and round center tables.

French Louis-Philippe Furniture

The Louis-Philippe period (1830-1848) in antique French furniture was derived from the simple, rounded lines of the Restauration, but with very little ornamentation. Darker woods were once again preferred, including mahogany, palisander, and walnut. Table and commode surfaces are frequently marble-topped; marbles were most often black, white or gray, sometimes with sculpted borders. The antique furniture forms of this period carried by Sparrows Inc are center tables, commodes, consoles, farm tables and gilt mirrors.

French Napoleon III Furniture

The Napoleon III (sometimes called Second Empire) period (1848-1870), in antique French furniture borrowed elements from all the preceding styles, creating an eclectic style which, although not really original, was inventive. The dark woods of previous periods were used, especially mahogany and ebony along with new materials such as papier-mâché, cast iron , mother of pearl and ivory inlay, gilt bronze and wood carved to imitate bamboo (faux bamboo.) Sparrows Inc has Napoleon III furniture in all forms but most commonly armchairs, cabinets, clocks and occasional tables.

Antique French Revival Style Furniture

Beginning in the Napoleon III period, and continuing beyond the turn to the twentieth century, French antique furniture retraced the styles of most preceding periods, while the furniture production in France moved from highly skilled craft to largely mechanized industry. The styles of the Gothic, Renaissance, Regence, Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI periods all reappear. A number of late 19th century firms became famous for their Revival furniture (meubles de style), including such names as Bastet, Krieger, Mercier Freres, and Sormani. Over the years, Sparrows Inc has consistently selected the finest examples of these antique French furniture styles. They are represented in antique furniture made for dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and offices.

French Art Nouveau Furniture

French Art Nouveau furniture was produced for only a relatively short time, from 1890 until about 1920. The style is characterized by flowing, curved lines, asymmetry and natural subjects, especially flowers and plants. It was always expensive to manufacture, as its originality required an artist's vision from the designer and the highest skills from the executing cabinetmaker. Furthermore, its very sensuousness resulted in its falling into discredit as decadent when World War I reintroduced cultural regimentation. The most common forms of Art Nouveau furniture were dining and bedroom pieces; the single form displaying the widest range of the style’s application was the chair. All of these may be found at Sparrows Inc.

French Art Deco Furniture

The French Art Deco furniture (1920-1925) is France’s first expression of originality in furniture design and decoration in the twentieth century. While it is characterized by a return to the straight line, its designers also experimented with new or exotic finishes and materials including metals, mother-of-pearl, ivory, wrought iron, unusual wood veneers, lacquers and plastics and by stylizations inspired by nature or the use of geometric forms in the decorative elements. The sources of influence from the past include themes and motifs from ancient Egypt, the Empire and Louis XVI periods. Proportions changed dramatically - principally through minor elongation and substantial height reduction - to accommodate, among other things, the lower ceiling heights in modern buildings. Sparrows Inc carries high quality Art Deco furniture in all available forms, including armoires, beds, bookcases, dining room suites, desks, hallracks, mirrors, armchairs, leather club chairs, and so on.

Further Reading

French Antique Furniture

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