We’ve had clients ask this several times, and while we use the term somewhat loosely, the word bergère does reference a family of chairs with certain style elements that can be quite varied. This style first appeared during the Regency period in France, around 1715-1723. You may see such words as “Louis XVI,” “Rococo,” or “Directoire” in regards to these pieces. A bergère may have wings, no wings, enclosed upholstered arms or open woodwork arms, and sometimes no arms. Both antique and modern styling can be quite fanciful – tall and slender, Art Deco inspired, overstuffed, or with intricate wood touches – much liberty can be taken with these pieces and still be considered bergère.
Allow us to cheat a little on historical data, and refer to the Wikipedia entry on the style:
A bergère is an enclosed upholstered French armchair (fauteuil) with an upholstered back and armrests on upholstered frames. The seat frame is over-upholstered, but the rest of the wooden framing is exposed: it may bemoulded or carved, and of beech, painted or gilded, or of fruitwood, walnut or mahogany with a waxed finish. Padded elbowrests may stand upon the armrests. A bergère is fitted with a loose, but tailored, seat cushion.
It is designed for lounging in comfort…A bergère in the eighteenth century was essentially a meuble courant, designed to be moved about to suit convenience, rather than being ranged permanently formally along the walls as part of the decor.