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Bombe Chest a Perfect Accent for Any Room

Feb 26, 2008
Known for sweeping curves, scallops and ornate flourishes, the bombe chest stands as an example of fine French design. A very popular piece of accent furniture, the bombe chest evolved as a direct result of political change in eighteenth century France.

Bombe chests are the perfect accent to any room. While the style and shape of many bombe chests can be somewhat exaggerated, there are styles that are more refined and slightly less ornate. Marked by graceful curves and unlike anything before or since its inception, the bombe chest is a fine example of artistic expression in furniture. In fact, the bombe chest is the perfect combination of style and utility.

During the reign of French King Louis the Fourteenth, actors on popular culture were somewhat restricted. Artists and designers were held to strict standards at the whim and wishes of a king that some historians describe as simply vain. Louis XIV believed in the absolute rule of the monarch and attempted to impose his societal view on many aspects of French culture. Louis felt that much of seventeenth century France was backward and barbarous and moved in a way that he thought he bring a level of refinement to French society.

The young Louis was a patron of the arts and established agencies that sought to control most forms of artistic and design expression. These agencies had enforcement power over things such as woodworking, cabinet making, and architecture. The degree of control combined with extravagant spending had the unexpected result of strengthening the power of the central government taking power away from the elite. What some people referred to as an age of enlightened government, others would describe in less favorable terms.

Louis XIV ruled France for over seventy years and upon his death, a new age of the arts and design began. Suddenly, the conformist constraints placed on artisans were gone, leaving them to experiment. Styles in French design began to change, leaving behind the traditional, though ornate forms preferred by Louis XIV. The reign of King Louis XV ushered in what has become known as the Regence period.

At the time of his ascension to the throne, Louis XV was too young to govern effectively. It was during this time that the look and feel of French design began to change. Artists and designers felt much freer to indulge themselves. In addition to changes in cabinet designs, processes such as caning came into fashion.

Unleashed from their conformism, cabinetmakers began to produce unique styles of chests and other types of furniture. One result of this period was the bombe chest. The classic French Regence period chest was far from square. In contrast the bombe chest is identifiable by its somewhat exaggerated shaped that often resembles a pear.

The primary function of the bombe chest, aside from being used as a piece of accent furniture, is storage. A bombe chest usually features a number of drawers. It was one of several furniture designs that predated the modern dresser. The tops of the bombe commode are far from square, rather, the edges take on a scalloped shape. The

The term commode does not mean what most of us think it does. In reference to the word commode, the French root of the word means suitable or convenient. In the age of modern indoor plumbing, the indoor toilet was indeed a convenience. So it was logical that the word commode would be used to describe the convenient nature of the indoor water closet or chest.

The word bombe is pronounced bombay. There is often some confusion among buyers looking for a bombe chest. With the exception of phonetics, there is no connection to the city of Bombay in India. There is furniture that originates from Bombay, India but that is where the similarity ends.

Furniture of the Regence period is highly favored among antique aficionados and collectors. The period is characterized by ornate embellishments and the heavy use of lacquers. The technique of japanning was brought forward. Japanning is a technique of lacquering, done by hand, and features dark colors such as blacks and reds.

During the Regence design period, wide varieties of wood species were available to cabinetmakers including hardwoods such as ash, walnut, oak, cherry, and mahogany. There were other wood species not often seen in todays environment of mass production and antique reproductions, including beech, kingwood, chestnut, and satinwood. Several innovations in design and assembly were introduced during the Regence period including the screw and the stand alone bookcase.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a staff writer for the quality online store FineWebStores.com.
Shop for Bombe Chests , and Accent Furniture for your home. Please visit FineWebStores.com today.
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