Though this style ranged in time from about 1100 to 1500, until 1400 French furniture was indistinct from the Gothic style of Northern Europe – ecclesiastical. The nomadic lifestyle established the need for chests, coffers, and benches. Prominent pieces were those that served dual purposes and were easy to travel with. Originally based on the Italian Renaissance, the French furniture of the 16th Century was very detailed and graceful with inlay marquetry of ivory, mother of pearl, and various colors of wood.
The period from 1715 to 1774, also known as the Regence, marked a shift from the weighty character of earlier rococo styles to embrace a more light-hearted, somewhat simpler feel. Carvings and marquetry were simplified and contributed more to the overall motif of the piece than in the prior period.
Characteristics of this 15th century style include simple outlines and details such as architectural profiles with classic mouldings, ornamentation of acanthus, Rinceau, and animal forms.
Named for the Directorate of France after the French Revolution, Directoire style prevailed between 1793 and 1804. It is characterized by Etruscan-appearing forms and motifs, including mythical and stylized animal forms. Of note are mahogany dining tables of the period, which were for the first time decorative enough in themselves to be displayed without cloths.