he painted furniture of French Canada opens a unique perspective upon our past and the everyday activities of those who came to settle a new and unknown space. Unlike traditional histories of great people and great events, the objects of the past, these "voices of silence" as André Malraux put it, speak to us of our own experience as material beings in a world more and more dominated by the proliferation of throw-away objects.

The study of surviving artifacts is a study of identities, as objects and cultures evolve through time subject to the wear and tear of daily life and the impact of external forces. Thus the mathematical and architectural geometries of the French seventeenth century gave way to the curvilinear, more human forms of the eighteenth, redefined in Canada after 1760 through the mingling of two distinct but often complementary aesthetics.

The style associated with Louis XIV (1643-1715) reflected a political stance, as the Louis XV (1715-1774) style mirrored a social ideal; the former was architectural, the latter was defined by the human body. The furniture of French Canada belongs not only to this tradition but also to the political and social history of North America, which gave yet another twist to the productions of this far-off outpost of France.

Late 18th century
Private collection

s a desire for greater comfort and convenience grew towards the end of the eighteenth century, small tables for specialized uses proliferated. This naïve interpretation of the classic Louis XV occasional table, with cabriole legs set at a 45-degree angle to the skirt and carved decoration at the central point, is highly successful, despite the oversize drawer. The beading along the inner edge of the legs underlines one of the basic characteristics of Louis XV furniture, which is the curve that integrates two separate parts of the structure (leg and skirt) in a single flowing line. Original blue paint.

    Date Created: March 1997 | Last Updated: September 1, 2009