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The 18th Century

In the eighteenth century, French ornamentalists, architects, cabinetmakers, draftsmen and decorators, fueled by their desire to move away from the rigorous formality and grandeur of the Sun King, started to develop new styles. The sacrosanct symmetry of the seventeenth century was quickly abandoned. Asymmetry, sinuous forms and S-shaped curves appeared everywhere, along with sumptuous marquetry pieces. Talented cabinetmakers in England began to see their own original styles. In Italy, Spain and Germany, the elegant and refined Rococo style that reigned in France was transformed into a flashy, exaggerated, eye-catching and luxurious art it was an excessive, overdone style. The discovery of the buried cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii immediately made everything concerning ancient Rome fashionable. This led to a complete redefinition of the stylistic vocabulary in France and England followed by other countries around the world. This movement was known as neoclassicism. It lead to the Louis SVI style and the Directoire style in France and to the George III style in England. France was extraordinarily influential in eighteenth century aesthetics and ideology. Every major innovative movement started in this country and spread throughout the world and every other country kept a permanent eye on what was developing in France. Furniture styles followed the ephemeral phenomenon of fashion. Everything served as a pretext for change.