Thursday, September 23, 2021

Decorating With Louis XIV Needlepoint Throne Chairs


Needlepoint armchairs are classic and were very popular as far back as the 17th century. While there are many styles, this blog will focus on the variety  of needlepoint high back armchairs that are commonly called Louis XIV throne chairs (even though they became popular under the rule of his father Louis XIII). But we will allow the honor to go to Louis XIV – the same king responsible for Versailles and who died 300 years ago this month.

I love these Baroque style throne chairs that have a  royal Medieval look to them, and had searched  years until I found one. It is one of my very favorite antiques. These chairs are not over the top royal thrones but are a simpler, more day to day version that still presented the grace and excellence of the nobility. 

The first upholstered high back throne chair appeared in France at the beginning of the 17th century and were covered in a variety of fabrics – damask, silk, velvet, and embroidered fabrics such as petit-point and needlepoint. Royalty and aristocrats would employ professional embroiderers to embellish their clothing, furniture and décor. In the mid 1600's, Louis XIV kept an embroiderer's atelier alongside tapestry weavers at Gobelins.

The needlepoint upholstered high back throne chair is historically European and achieved it's most distinguished form first in France.  England followed when the exiled royal court of Charles II returned to England with a taste for French décor accompanying them.

The needlepoint throne armchairs that we see and collect today are usually from the Louis XIV style Renaissance Revival of the 19th century. Furniture made in this style period reflects the popularity of 16th and 17th century designs. They take us back to 16th century France and the era of King Louis III and XIV. They are out there for the treasure hunter that loves scouring estate sales and auctions in an effort to take a piece of history home.



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The French Renaissance was the cultural and artistic movement in France between the 15th and early 17th centuries. The word renaissance was first used by the French historian, Jules Michelet, to define this "rebirth" of Europe. Beautiful Louis XIV high back needlepoint throne chairs, like the one in the right foreground, would be seen in noble homes of the time.


Under Louis XIV a growing taste for opulence demanded that furniture be exquisite and embellished with embroidery giving rise to the French style that we know today. 


The elaborate decoration of the Louis III and XIV style throne chair made it pretty obvious that it was reserved for dignitaries. It became a ceremonial armchair representing the ranks and titles of the aristocracy. 

Louis XII Decor at the Château de Courances via Pinterest

At the court as well as in the castle, the choice of seats follows an hierarchical order......throne chairs for the monarchs, armchairs for the princes, chairs for the most titled lords, and stools for the courtiers. Here two beautiful high back needlepoint armchairs flank a tapestry.


Because of it's sizable proportions the needlepoint Louis XIV throne chair can appear very masculine but that can be tempered with the right accessories and other furnishings. 


The needlepoint throne chair's large seat is comfortable and the frame is sturdy and durable. The back is usually 47" tall. Because of a time when the king sat "in" his armchair we still say you sit "in" a large armchair and "on" other kinds of chairs. 
 
via Pinterest

 The "confusion" of forms you see on the needlepoint pattern on the right chair is one of the characteristic of the earlier Louis XIII, and XIV style. The style on the left came a bit later. The colors were usually done in browns, red, yellows and blues. 


Fanciful animals, florals, arabesques, and figural scenes all appeared simultaneously on the needlepoint armchairs even into the Louis XIV era. The strong colors of the needlepoint complement the richness of the walnut frame.


These needlepoint clad throne like seats were always architectural in character, and as the Gothic style diminished they took on the distinctive characteristics of the Renaissance features.

voidparis on etsy.com

My mother taught me to needlepoint and do other embroidery as a young girl, a gift that I have always been grateful for.  I have been able to create several things for my home such as pillows, bell pulls, and other small accessories. 

voidparis on etsy.com

That is why I appreciate the work put into these wonderful chairs. If you are not familiar with needlepoint, stop sometime to admire all the craftsmanship that goes into them.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every chair should be a throne and hold a king". The true "throne chair" for everyday use had a definitive look. It was a bit more regal than the regular high backed armchair. While most of these high back chairs are called thrones, the main feature which denotes that a chair is a true throne chair is the apron which features some style of wonderful pierced wood carving featuring scrolls and curls.

Lisa Farmer-Eye For Design

This is my Louis XIV needlepoint throne chair. The dramatic silhouette of the Louis XIV chair is easily distinguishable. The rectangular seat back goes very high up to resemble a throne and has the decorative apron. 

Lisa Farmer-Eye For Design

This picture on the day I picked it up shows the colors of the needlepoint better in the natural light. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was actually less about the chair and more about the needlepoint fabric. The broad seat and backs are ideal for the purpose of showing off the embroidery as the the fabrics would be the most expensive part of any room.

Streets of London Antiques on etsy.com

 Decorative fringe and nail head trim are used many times to give  Louis XIV-style throne chairs a lavish look. 


Needlepoint is the oldest form of canvas work. This traditional technique was an expensive and fashionable style in its time that rose in popularity throughout Europe in the 16th century as the invention of the steel needle allowed woven tapestry like pieces to be created by hand. The upholstery, fastened with brass nails, would cover most of the chair’s frame.


The earliest needlepoint design in the Louis XIV throne chair would have been a composition of arabesques in the most popular colors of the day, yellow, red, brown, and blue.



Needlepoint Heaven!! I will take the magnificent Louis XIV throne chair on the right. The other chairs are lovely too and are from the later centuries.

Buck County Estate Traders

Poor heating systems in houses made the warm wool needlepoint upholstery even more desirable.


Sometimes the needlepoint pattern would mimic a Verdure tapestry.



via Pinterest

 The needlepoint back and seat cover of this chair is all hand made in exquisite colors of pale gold, salmon, green, and blue. The chair back features a popular design element of a medieval couple in a cartouche.


via Pinterest

This throne chair has been upholstered in the popular The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame à la licorne) pattern. This is the modern name given to a series of six tapestries woven in Flanders from designs drawn in Paris in the late fifteenth century. The collection is on display in the Musée national du Moyen Âge and often is considered one of the greatest works of art of the European Middle Ages.


Joy de Rohan-Chabot restored her family’s 15th century French château. The image shows two needlepoint armchairs on either side of the sofa. These chairs just seem to ramp up the historic feel of a space.


Under Louis XIII and XIV halls were massive, lavishly decorated and very formal and the armchairs were very thronelike. In the latter part of the reign of Louis XIV as the style started to soften and the transition to more fluid forms became popular, straight lines gave way to curves. The new legs were called Os de mouton" (sheep bone in French). 


The graceful shape of the chair legs is literally based on the legs of a lamb. 

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During the 17th-century, the Os de Mouton (os duh moo-ton) needlepoint armchair filled many grand chateaus across the French countryside.


This high back needlepoint throne armchair sitting by the fireplace retains the base and mutton bone stretchers that are the quintessential element of the Os de Mouton style.

Lindsay Dobson


Up until the 18th century, professional embroiderers had been attached to a court, a guild, or a wealthy family. However in the late 18th century, many embroiderers opened their own shops to sell supplies as well as needlepoint kits. Women learned to needlepoint and many of the chairs we buy today are the results of their handiwork.

Museumize

The Louis XIV throne chairs are beautiful additions to the old world style home.

via Pinterest

Pair of walnut highbacked armchairs having exquisitely embroidered needlepoint upholstery.

These chairs are often seen in pairs flanking entrances or as fireplace or library chairs. Some of the chairs had a finial as embellishment underneath the seat.


An antique throne chair from the Renaissance Revival of the 19th century.... 1850-1880.

This Louis XIV high backed armchair has been covered in velvet with a fabulous needlepoint back. Another lovely way to upholster a chair of this kind.


Designer Timothy Corrigan with a Louis XIV throne chair. via architecturaldigest.com  I love to see them sitting on hardwood floors, Aubusson carpets, Orientals and even old world black and white harlequin floors. 


The English admired the high backed needlepoint chairs as well.


During this period needlework was used for upholstery in both France and England. When William III and Mary II came to the English throne he brought many Huguenot refugees from France. Their influence was felt as they went to work for London cabinetmakers and designers.


I love the profile of the Louis XIV throne chair!


Tudor interiors were often beautifully decorated with tapestries, embroidery, carpets, and fabrics. The Louis XIV armchair fits right into that style interior.


Needlepoint throne chairs look great accompanying a desk. The taste for 18th century French decorative arts never disappeared and continued to be admired and collected even after the French Revolution. 



Legs on English Louis XIII needlepoint throne chairs were usually of the Flemish scroll style. This leg style emerged in the latter half of the 17th century and is usually found in late Baroque styles like Restoration and William and Mary.

via Pinterest

Also spiral twist and barley twist legs were popular on early French and English needlepoint high backed armchairs.


The throne style armchair still mixes well with later Louis XV and XVI style chairs.


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Louis XIV needlepoint throne armchairs are gorgeous in a living or sitting room.........


and will make an elegant addition to a family room or library for curling up in and reading a good book about the French Renaissance. Actually these large and comfortable chairs look great anywhere you want to add a bit of old world flavor.


Regal as they may be, these same chairs can be incorporated in today's old world, traditional, and even modern interiors as well.



If you enjoy bringing antique elements into your home you won't be disappointed with the purchase of a Louis XIV needlepoint clad chair.

These antique needlepoint throne chairs integrate really well with a French Provincial or French farmhouse look........ 

via Pinterest

and will instantly give your home a historical feel.


Another highly decorative Louis XIV throne chair with needlepoint upholstery gives the room an instant royal ambience......


and allows you to step into a world of days gone by.



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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer


In the event that I have not credited the correct source of an image, please contact me at lisafarmerdesigns46@yahoo.com and I will be glad to correct it.





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