The Beaux Arts Architecture Style
The Beaux Arts architecture style is classic and easily recognizable. Originating in 19th century France, it mirrors much of the opulence and decoration from that era and region. Let’s explore the history of the style, how to recognize it, and how it has evolved over time and place.
Origin of Beaux Arts Architecture
The style of Beaux Arts evolved from the neoclassicism of the 1700’s and 1800’s. While neoclassical architecture was inspired by the formal architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, there was a demand and desire for less strict, formal designs. The new movement introduced inspiration from the middle ages and the Renaissance. This led to the development of Beaux Arts architecture (Beaux Arts meaning “fine arts” in English).
Beaux Arts architecture was very popular when it arrived in America, but its reign was short lived. Lasting only from about 1885 to 1925, it became part of the late 19th century American Renaissance movement. In the U.S., the style led to classic “American dream” neighborhoods with large and elaborate houses, wide avenues, and spacious parks. However, because of the grandiose size of Beaux Arts buildings, it was more commonly used in large public buildings. These include buildings like museums, libraries, and government buildings. Most notably, many buildings in the nation’s capitol, Washington D.C., are built in this style, such as the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson building on Capitol Hill. Other historic, notorious buildings such as New York City‘s Grand Central Terminal and Carnegie Hall are built in this style as well.
Characteristics of Beaux Arts
Beaux Arts architecture is characteristically symmetrical, grandiose, elaborate, and reminiscent of its formal roots. Its elements are nearly always opulent. Some of the architectural characteristics often seen in the style include balconies, columns, pediments (triangular gables), and balustrades (vertical posts). The exteriors are typically stone, symmetrical, and use either flat or low pitched roofs. They have lots of ornamental decoration on the outside, as well. You will typically see lots of cartouches, medallions and ornate detailing.
Interiors are polished and lavish, including sculptures, grand sweeping stairways, ballrooms, and coats of arms. They often include lots of marble and reflective surfaces. It is formal yet lavish and showy. There are architectural decorations on the inside, as well. This can be in the form of arched doorways and high vaulted ceilings. A great example of this can be seen in the old mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. The Vanderbilt Marble House and Rosecliff Mansion are key examples of this lavish architecture.
Beaux Arts architecture came from the opulent designs and styles of 18th and 19th century France, and so naturally the interior decoration and styling usually reflects that as well. No luxurious detail is spared, and valuable, historical details are used as the perfect decorations. This makes the romantic, royal antique French rugs perfect for a Beaux Arts interior. Any stately antique piece will do the trick of bringing the feeling of royalty to the Beaux Arts space.
Now that you know a little bit more about where Beaux Arts architecture came from, how it was used in its time, and how it became so popular in the United States, continue your journey through the world of French opulence with our curated selection of antique French rugs below. If you would like to learn more or see more pieces, don’t hesitate to browse our website and contact us with any questions.