You Gotta Love Louis!

By Brett Morris
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

When it comes to history's great monachs, France's King Louis XV is not held in particularly high regard. Succeeding his great-grandfather Louis XIV at the age of five and ruling till his death in May 1774, Louis XV was described by Princeton historian Jerome Blum as "a perpetual adolescent called to do a man's job." Many scholars believe that Louis XV damaged the power of France, weakened the treasury, discredited the absolute monarchy, and made it more vulnerable to distrust and destruction. No surprise then that the French Revolution broke out just 15 years after his passing.

But Louis had style, and French culture and influence were at their height during his reign. Louis XV style or Louis Quinze was characterized by supreme craftsmanship and the integration of the arts of painting, cabinetmaking and sculpture. Furniture of the period typically came in two sets, summer and winter, and was highly ornamental yet elegant, and designed to mesh with the rest of the home decor. Oriental themes and the fabulous were the principle expressions, and exotic woods and marbles were employed to further the effect.

On Monday, July 17 Leslie Hindman Auctioneers will offer bidders a brilliant opportunity to add a little Louis XV style to their homes when they hold Day 1 of their Fine Furniture & Decorative Arts sale. Nestled in amongst the 540 lots being sold are a great selection of pieces sporting that signature Louis Quinze look, covering everything from tables to chairs to candlesticks and beyond. Lot 239 (above) - a Louis XV style Kingwood bureau plat, is sure to be in demand. Dating to 1900, it sports a serpentine leather-inset top with a gilt bronze mounted edge, three drawers on one side and three false ones on the other, raised delicately on cabriole legs.

Anyone looking to bring some serious pop to a room should take a serious look at Lot 237 - a pair of Louis XV style gilt bronze and marble console tables. Dating back to 1900, each of these classical pieces has a shaped marble top raised on a figural support, cast to show nude male and female figures seated atop the base cast. 

"Ornate" is a word often associated with Louis Quinze and it will be on bold display when Lot 226 goes under the hammer. Dating to the end of the 19th Century and standing 28 inches high, this pair of Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted malachite urns feature domed covers with a pinecone finial, a body mounted with handles terminating in foliate scrolls, and a male mask on each side.

Nothing too low key either about Lot 227 - a Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted Fleur de Pecher marble fireplace. The shaped top sits above the similarly worked frieze, centered with a cast shell issuing foliate scrolls, raised on shaped supports each mounted with a female bust. Could be just the thing to get you through a long and brutal east coast winter...

The appeal of Louis Quinze furniture is well and truly timeless, and works beautifully in any setting, whether the entire look of the room is period or they're used as a counter-balancing accent. Lot 228 - a pair of Louis XV painted beechwood Fauteuils en Cabriolet, have shaped and channel molded crest rails above padded backs, arms and stuffover seats, raised on cabriole legs ending in scroll feet. 

Day 1 of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers' Fine Furniture & Decorative Arts sale contains 540 lots covering a host of fascinating categories. Look now at the full catalog.