Design History #2: Classical Baroque

Design History #2: Classical Baroque
Château de Versailles via Pinterest

An acceptance of the rules of classicism pervaded French art, literature and education. These rules, applied to architecture, were based on mathematical formulae and the works of Vitruvius and Palladio, and resulted in grand building projects aimed at promoting the imperial regime of the king, Louis XIV. This pompous style is known as the Classical Baroque in France.

The Royal Academy of Architecture, founded in 1671, established a tight control over architectural design that was to dictate, as with the Academy of Painting and Sculpture founded some years before, architectural design standards in France until the late 19th century.

Design History #2: Classical Baroque
Château de Versailles by French Californian

The Palace of Versailles is the crowning achievement of the Classical Baroque style. It was undertaken by Louis Le Vau and Charles Le Brun in 1667, and became the life work of the king. With the entire court removed from the distractions of Paris and housed under one roof, Louis could exercise absolute control over his nobles, and quell any whiff of rebellion or dissent.

The vast gardens, designed by André Le Notre, were an integral part of the overall design, and for the first time architecture, interior design and landscaping conformed to the same set of compositional and aesthetic principles to form a unified, visual whole. The broad vistas, pools and mile-long Grand Canal follow a formal symmetry, with geometrically controlled plantings, statuary and balustraded terraces of immense scale.

In décor, the French Classical Baroque style is associated with the decoration of Versailles and Louis XIV.
It is characterized by high relief mouldings, painted vaulted ceilings, the use of gilt and mirrors, and the creation of long vistas through adjoining rooms. The use of contrasting coloured marbles to form geometric designs, and the strict symmetry of all elements are characteristic of Baroque interiors. Furniture was large-scale, sculptural, and designed to ornament rather than serve any practical function. Upholstery is an important element.

Significant Designers:
Andre Boulle
Thomas Chippendale

Important Interiors:
Banqueting House
Versailles: the Salle des Gardes, the Hall of Mirrors, the Gardens
Double Cube Room, Wilton
Belton House

To incorporate a modern interpretation of the Classical Baroque style into your décor, look for pieces like Vivre’s Versailles Porcelain Mirror or meissenusa‘s Golden Baroque tableware.