That Bococo should have run to irresponsible extravagance was, perhaps, not unnatural when we remember the rigid "centralised systematisation" of "life, thought," and of every kind of decorative expression that had previously confined all efforts within strait and prescribed limits. The change was not merely a rebound; it was an out and out rebellion, and that any of its fruits should have been tempered with common sense and artistic judgment is cause for wonder rather than otherwise. That it was so is a tribute and testimony to the innate mental balance and logical attitude of the French people.

There was the utmost diversity of expression in this newly dawned era which may be regarded as a period of free-thinking and anarchy in decorative art, despite the many really fine things it produced. Some one has characterised it as a "hot-house period"; whether this be quite justifiable or not, it was certainly exotic. It was an era of flux and changing ideals. The quest for novelty was the one constant element that seemed dominant. Everything was grist that came to the Rooocoist's mill. The subjects that might be used with high approval as inspirations for decorative treatment were drawn indiscriminately from the "country, animal life, the customs of foreign lands," Oriental art and every other conceivable source. There was the utmost freedom in the use of all manner of naturalism. "The subject, indeed, was indifferent, provided it was novel in itself, and that its artistic presentment had esprit and invested it with le bel air.... All known rales of architecture might be set aside with impunity, if the result had but style, piquancy and perfect technique."

When the course of decorative license had run to its utmost limits, it was to be expected that a revulsion of feeling should ensue. And this reaction came in the form of the neo-Classic style. While the decorative forces let loose in the early part of the reign of Louis Fifteenth had "undoubtedly pushed defiance of Classical traditions further than any other period since the Renaissance," they ultimately "reached a climax beyond which no further advance in the same direction was possible," and a "fresh return to the sources" became not only necessary but inevitable. The impartial student of the work of the Rococo age "cannot but recognise that it has never been surpassed for finish, both of design and execution, for sparkling elegance and coquettish playfulness - in a word, for complete adaptation to the life of the age which, with all its faults, had many delightful qualities"; but the impartial student will likewise recognise that it had not in it the element of permanence. While it was often most agreeable it was, nevertheless, essentially ephemeral. It was also essentially restless. And the time had come when there was a common craving for something more restful in decorative expression.

By fortunate coincidence, there had gradually grown up a widespread disposition toward archaeological research. Perhaps it may have been partly due to the skeptical spirit of the age which was unwilling to accept without question the standards and conceptions that had been handed on to it by preceding ages. At any rate, the fact remained that antiquarian studies and appreciation, hitherto unparallelled except in the beginning of the Renaissance period, if indeed then, exerted a most compelling influence upon the popular mind. The ruins of the palace of Diocletian at Spalato had been not only explored and sketched but accurately measured and drawn to scale by the Brothers Adam and the results of their labours were in due course published in several volumes. The ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii had been excavated and most thoroughly studied and the publication of the results of this work exercised an enormous influence. Similar undertakings, dependent upon a freshly awakened ardour for antiquarian research, were also pushed forward elsewhere in Italy, in Greece and in other portions of what had once been the Roman Empire.

The outcome of all this activity was that there soon followed a consciousness, growing into an overwhelming and general conviction, that the models of ancient architecture and ancient decoration, and the principles deduced therefrom, once acclaimed as standards by the fathers of the Renaissance and their successors, did not by any means represent all the architectural and decorative wealth of Classic antiquity nor even, necessarily, what was best. The full realisation of this larger horizon with its larger liberty of interpretation, along with such rationalistic attacks upon the affectations of Palladianism as that put forth by the Abbe Langier, spelled the doom of Vitruvianism, which quite collapsed. Architects and decorators disregarded the earlier norms that were thus proved to be artificial and arbitrary, and not infallible as they had once been supposed, and went back direct to fresh springs for inspiration.

This new influence was felt not only in France but also in England and all throughout the Continent: In France it assumed a concrete form that we know as the "Style Louis Seize." It was architecturally and dec-oratively consistent and there was no longen any tolerance shown for that earlier compromise between Palladianism and Rococo, strict architecture and free decoration, an anomalous pairing off that was very like condoning a Saturday night drunk on condition that the Sabbatarian inebriate would remain sober the rest of the time. Along with the renewed ascendancy of straight lines in architecture and decoration, characteristic of the Style Louis Seize, and along with a certain degree of Classic severity, we can see also the addition of many elements of local grace, tempering blithesomeness and restrained naturalism, the latter due in great measure to the influence of Rousseau, which taken all together gave the style its peculiar individuality.

It was the elimination of many of these added graces and amenities and the pushing of certain influences to a logical and somewhat puristic conclusion that resulted in the Directoire Style. The urbanity and mellowness of the old regime were now taboo and a kind of archaeological mania seemed to have possessed men's minds and impelled them to find their highest satisfaction in discerning parallels between their own ideals and practice and the precedents afforded by a certain period of Roman public and domestic life. To such an extent did they carry the infatuation that, not content with reproducing as nearly as circumstances would permit the architectural and decorative background of their chosen prototypal Roman period, they even tried to emulate Roman peculiarities of costume and domestic usage and, arrayed in tunics and togas, would sit or recline to eat a meal from a tripod table, doubtless with more archŠological than bodily satisfaction.

While the Directoire Style was professedly a revolt and a departure from the Style Louis Seize, it was in reality a development from it or, at any rate, a development from the same parent stock, pushed to extremes and a little attenuated and formalised in the process. In its best manifestation, the Directoire Style Was pure and graceful, but the very rigidity of archaeological interpretation to which its sponsors seem to have been unalterably committed, would soon have proved its undoing had it not, ere long, been completely supplanted by the Empire Style. Contemplating the two together it seems hard to understand how two modes, drawn as were both Directoire and Empire, from much the same Well-spring of inspiration could have turned out so different in their final developments.

The determination to make a clean break with all traditional backgrounds, so far as French history was concerned, and to give the people a new system of art and architecture as well as a brand-new political organisation resulted in Napoleonic fiat authorising Percier and Fontaine to devise an entirely unprecedented system of decoration which they based, indeed, upon Classic models, but upon that aspect of Classic models most calculated to appeal to aggressive militaristic ideals. Military trophies and symbols, and the emblems of imperial pomp, were freely and preponderantly introduced among the properties of their schemes of decoration along with the more graceful forms that had characterised Roman decorative art in the early imperial period. Their system, though often overloaded with ornament and excessively profuse, was, nevertheless, impressively rich and sometimes displayed considerable grace and charm despite its obvious opulence. In the earlier stages of the Empire Style there were frequently manifestations worthy of sincere commendation. That was, however, before the style became heavy, debased, vulgarised and bombastic to suit the tastes of a body of rich parvenus who had taken the place of the old noblesse. This phase of the style merits only condemnation.

In architecture what is known as the Greek Revival parallelled the Empire Style in decoration. Its interpretation was usually stolid, pompous and heavy, but its saving grace was that it was generally simple and fortunately took its direction mainly from an archaeological bias of inspiration.