Furniture 101: Bergere Chair

Furniture 101: Bergere Chair

Style : Today's installation of Furniture 101 takes us back to the 18th century. Perhaps this is basic knowledge for some of you, but to me, I didn't realize until recently how timeless the bergere chair has remained over the last three centuries. Of course, it's evolved greatly over that time, and there are varying styles of bergere, and fabrics can play a huge part in the overall look. But when you think about it, there are few decorative elements that are widely used today that are so stylistically rooted in the era of Louis XV. In looking at the painting below, clearly few of us would go for the style of a gilt rococo clock or a full length wall tapestry, but the bergere- most of us would gladly take those!

A Reading of Moliere, by Jean Francois de Troy

To go back to its origins (thanks in part to Wikipedia, of course) - a bergère, or "shepherdess chair" is an enclosed upholstered French armchair (fauteuil) with an upholstered back and armrests on upholstered frames. The seat frame is over-upholstered, but the rest of the wooden framing is exposed: it may be moulded or carved, and of beech painted or gilded or of fruitwood, walnut or mahogany with a waxed finish. Padded elbowrests may stand upon the armrests. A bergère is fitted with a loose, but tailored, seat cushion. It is designed for lounging in comfort, with a deeper wider seat than that of a regular fauteuil. A bergère in the eighteenth century was essentially a meuble courant, designed to be moved about to suit convenience, rather than being ranged permanently formally along the walls as part of the decor.

Appearing first in Paris during the Régence (1715-23), the form reaches its full development in the unifying curves of the rococo style, then continues in a more architectural rectilinear style in the Louis XVI, Directoire, and French and American Empire styles.

Bonus points for recognizing the room that houses these well-known bergere chairs...

And in an entirely more modern direction...


Duralee's colorful bergere

Bergere in ikat

Bergere goes Sweedish, courtesy of Verandah

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