In response to the opulence of the preceding regime, a lighter, more feminine style became the rage when the Sun King’s great-grandson came to the throne. Louis XV gave his name to an aesthetic that also came to be known as rococo—a graceful mode that made comfort a priority and put an emphasis on curvy flowing lines made prettier with elements inspired by nature, like carved leaves, flowers, and shells. Pieces often cared little for symmetry and also grew more delicate and human in scale, with slim-legged tables and lower, deeper armchairs.
The movement took its cues from Madame de Pompadour, the king’s fashionable mistress and a patron of the arts in her own right, responsible for the founding of the Sèvres porcelain factory and a friend of Voltaire. Louis XV bergères, settees, commodes, and secretaires, with their cabriole legs, satin covered cushions, and sinuous shapes, are considered by many to be the apex in a golden age of French furniture design. They made fans of the likes of Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley, and Jackie Kennedy and remain classic symbols of elegance and chic.