Néoclassique | Louis XVI
The Neoclassical style is a reaction to the excesses of the Baroque styles. Instead of a romantic notion, the rationale is now honored. This is an important result of the Enlightenment (1650 – 1800), which places the emphasis on sensory observations and logical thinking. This style is characterized by the use of pure elements and symbols from classic antiquity in Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire. The style was fueled by several important archaeological excavations (Pompeii and the Rosetta Stone). The Neoclassical period was also the time of the French Revolution, which began in 1789. This had a big influence on the firebacks and andirons. Firebacks and andirons had to be relieved of all feudal elements, with the Fleur de Lis in particular having to be removed. There are still many firebacks in existence on which the Fleur de Lis has been cut off. At the same time, new motifs arose, with, among other things, Marianne as a symbol for the Republic (and reason) and the Phrygian cap as a symbol for the liberated slave. The style remains Neoclassical. The Neoclassical period was also the time when Napoleon was emperor of the French (1804 – 1814). In this period, the Empire period, the Neoclassical style became more imposing and more massive. The battles in Egypt strengthened the preference for motifs from ancient Egypt. Napoleon’s portrait appears on firebacks and andirons. For andirons, that was often in the form of a reclining head. The motif of the Sphynx was also popular for andirons in this time. This style is described more comprehensively below. In the second half of the Neoclassical period, the Biedermeier (1815 – 1848) and the Louis-Philippe (1830 – 1848) styles arose. These are reactions from the populace to the heavy classical elements of the Neoclassical style. People wanted more cosiness and friendliness. The classical elements became less heavy and combined with, among other things, more romantic additions.