French Antique Farmhouse Dining Tables or ” Les Tables “. The French provincial Farmhouse dining table, over the centuries, has progressed from being extremely basic to the more modern functional piece, we recognise today. Starting as a truly rustic French antique piece, being built for butchering and everyday usage, these antique tables were often referred to as “Pig Benches”. The early antique farmhouse dining tables were of hewn and riven timber for the top, with legs let into it, quite often only 3 legs, as this would stand on an uneven surface.
By the 17th century, Louis XIII and XIV, 1710 – 1715, the style of the French antique farmhouse dining table, was becoming more regimented. With the church beginning to make a greater impact on everyday life, a table became a piece of furniture, at which people would share their meals. This was the birth of the “Refectory” table, both in France and England,starting simply as a top supported by trestles, then becoming more lavish with shaped framed or pilaster ends, incorporating top bearers, standing on sledge feet.
In the 18th century, with turning becoming more prevalent and the introduction of the mortise and ten joint, being widely used, French antique farmhouse dining tables would now be built with a frame, jointed to the legs, using pegs or dowels. This style often incorporated stretchers for rigidity, often on all sides and some with end stretchers and a centre stretcher, being known as “H” stretchers. Some of the early French antique farmhouse dining tables, were simply thick planks of timber, with the legs mortised directly into the top. With the arrival of the Louis XV and XVI periods, 1723 – 1793, more sophistication became apparent, with the introduction of Cabriole legs, known as ” pieds biche”, meaning doe’s legs, simulating a leaping deer, with this cabinetmaking entered a new era.
The 19th century, brought differing styles of French antique tables, incorporating the old and embracing the new, with tapered legs, “pieds fuseau”, (fuselage) and later still, more finely turned legs. French farmhouse dining tables were made from the locally indigenous country timbers, ash, beech, cherry, chestnut, elm,oak, pine and walnut. Drawers, bread slides and extensions, were introduced, depending on the clients requirements.
An antique French provincial farmhouse dining table, is as unique as the craftsman who built it, with no table being identical it should be cherished as a piece of original and individual living history.
Copyright Bruce Sedgwick August 2015.