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Directoire

During the French Revolution, a Greek-inspired classical style entered art and fashion, constituting the transition from Louis-Seize era to the Consulate and Empire periods: Directoire. The period was named after the Directorium government, which ruled France from 1795 to 1799. For the revolutionary middle classes, the ostentatious, dominant rococo style was synonymous with absolutism. Directoire was a conscious rejection of rococo characteristics. The style had a strict, linear and deliberately plain formal language, which was particularly apparent in furniture and interior decoration. White became the dominant colour and spartan, predominantly gold decoration, served as restrained antique ornament, inspired by the archaeological discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum. The principle of Egalité was the basis of this new modesty, which can be compared with pre-revolutionary classicism. The idea of unity also permeated fashion, which was also partly influenced by England, where clothes worn "ā la grecque" were highly fashionable.
The founding of the republican Institut National des Sciences et des Arts (State Institute of Sciences and Arts), which, replaced the Royal Academy in 1795, had a profound impact on art. The members of the art department included Joseph-Marie Vien, Jacques-Louis David, Augustin Pajou and Jean-Antoine Houdon, who executed a number of works for the mass festivities. Competitions for public, pro-revolutionary art works were organised, although they were rarely realised. The same applied to architecture. One of the rare examples of a project, which was actually finished, was the Rue des Colonnes, (1797, B. Poyet) in Paris, a strict arcade with huge pillars.


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