Masterpieces of 18th-century French furniture showing at Versailles
By Alexandria Sage
PARIS November 5 (Reuters) - The "Desk of the King" took nine years of work for the cabinetmakers of Louis XV, its rich inlays, secret drawers and innovative design making it one of the many masterpieces of 18th century French furniture.
Now, this and other treasures of furniture design from 1650 through 1790, corresponding to the reigns of Louis XIV through Louis XVI, are on display at Versailles in a noteworthy show, "The 18th Century at the Source of Design."
From the bulky, straightbacked chairs resembling thrones from the early part of the century to the sinuous curves that characterized the tastes under Louis XV, the exposition is a "best of" the century in which virtuosity, imagination and innovation characterized new furniture design.
Many of the works have never been seen in public and were lured away from private collections for the exhibition, the biggest in France on the subject in 50 years.
Although 18th century design is loved by many - and still prevails in luxury hotels that look to the "ancien regime" as the pillar of extravagance - current tastes for more subdued style have given the era a reputation of being excessively ornate and stuffy.
"You hear today that this period is no longer in fashion, but when you see these masterpieces, you can see they're still worthy of being talked about," Catherine Pegard, head of the agency that administers Versailles and its estate, said at a recent press preview.
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