It is always interesting to discover new creative centers. Let's look today at the art of Liege which has too often been regarded as "regional." Always close by the spirit of Paris, the artists of this state managed to shine by their own originality. Flémal Bertholet, Liege painter, painted the ceiling of the courtroom at the Tuileries for Louis XIV.
Let us have a look on the production of this region.
How to spot them ?
Any lover of antique furniture will notice in Liege furniture Louis XIV and Regence motifs. That's why it is named "Regence Liège" style that will last throughout the eighteenth century Rococo without ever really had any significant influence. One of the key particularities is the symmetry of asymmetric carving. It will be the same for the style of Louis XVI, which appears in Liege in 1780 but is still influenced by older decorative motifs.
Commode arbalète à traverse apparente en chêne sculpté à trois rangée de trois tiroirs ornés d’un cordonnet et de rocailles symétriques, pans légèrement arrondis, plateau en chêne et piétement chantourné avec des pieds en pattes de lion, Liège, vers 1750.
This furniture differs so much from what can be found in Strasbourg or Lyon. If one hand some carving evoke typically Parisian creations, like the stalls of Our Lady of Paris, for example, to quote Guillaume Janneau, les variations les plus brillantes, les plus personnelles et les plus spirituelles avec une remarquable fantaisie dans l’emploi de l’asymétrie. As you can see from the pictures, this furniture, in carved oak, does not fall in the pastiche of Parisian productions.
Buffet vitrine en chêne sculpté dont le corps du haut, en retrait, est composé d’une vitrine et de tiroirs divisés en trois parties et terminant en doucine ; il repose sur un bahut à pans coupés ouvrant à deux tiroirs et deux vantaux ornés des trophées des Arts et des Sciences surmontant un piétement à patins. Divers motifs sculptés tels que rocailles combinées avec des fleurettes, branchages de roseaux, coquilles, rinceaux et lambrequins, Liège vers 1750.
Finally it is certainly the form of furniture that disturbs our eyes used to the French shape, perhaps because of a slight German influence. The concern of comfort and functionality led to the creation of composite furniture, as this little desk opening by eight rows of drawers topped by a glass case. Other typical furniture are in chests (see illustration), Buffets, Scriban desk, including a clock...
If you fall under the spell of these creations, you can purchase a chest or dresser from Liege of good quality for 3000 to 7000 euros. Only the furniture of exceptional quality are trading at much higher prices as, for example, the suite of eight chairs bought for €75,000 in June 2005.
Liege’s furniture are original and differs from what can be found in Paris. Far from being « regional » furniture cabinet makers in Liege created a style full of happiness and symmetry.
Main illustration: Courtesy of Sotheby's