Our antiques products cover a wide range of styles that have existed across the centuries.
American Empire (1800-1800)
THE EMPIRE STYLE
Napoleon's throne room at the Palace of Fontainebleau
The style developed from the Neoclassicism of the late 18th century, through the French Revolution, and into the official style of Napoleon and his court. It was inspired from the Imperial Rome of Augustus and Julius Caesar.
Napoleon's influence on the style that is named after his empire must be acknowledged, even if he personally lacked any artistic talent. He had no feeling for paintings or sculptures, but he knew the importance of patronage and the propaganda value of the arts and the style was intended to idealise Napoleon's rule and the French state. He was keen to create a style worthy of his new Empire in order to impress the world; the splendour of his court had to surpass all the others. This was necessary as he was considered a usurper and a Corsican adventurer.
His marriage to Joséphine de Beauharnais was happy, but the desire to have a son and heir lead to him divorcing her and marrying the Austrian Archduchess Marie-Louise in 1810. Now his father-law was Emperor Franz I and as his wife's aunt had been the executed Queen Marie-Antoinette Napoleon saw himself as the legitimate heir to Louis XVI.
The Malachite Salon at the Grand Trianon Versailles
The talented French architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine worked for Napoleon and created the Empire style. They were responsible for the decoration and arrangements for such important events as Napoleon's coronation in 1804 and his wedding to Marie-Louise. Their immensely influential work 'Recueil de décorations intérieures comprenant tout ce qui a rapport à l'ameublement', first published in 1801 with a second edition in 1812, contained 72 engraved plates of interiors and furniture that they had designed.
Napoleon's bedroom at the Palace of Compiègne
The French Empire style is the first truly international style that influenced all Europe as well as America, even those countries that were opposing Napoleon or were conquered by him and his victorious armies. There are similarities between the French Empire and the English Regency style, but there were no true exchanges of designs due to the continuous hostilities between the two countries. If this hadn't been the case, it is very likely that Percier and Fontaine would have been commissioned to design interiors there. The Prince Regent's passion for all things French is well documented, and there were even exceptions made for him to import French luxury goods in spite of the Continental Blockade imposed by Napoleon. During the short lived peace between the two countries in 1802 after the peace treaty of Amiens, many English tourists flocked to Paris to see the latest French fashion.
Napoleon's small bedroom at the Palace of Fontainebleau
In Italy, Germany, Sweden and Russia the style remained fashionable long after it had lost its appeal to the French. The style suited the autocratic Tsars Alexander I and his brother Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It was perhaps the deep interest in the antiquity that determined its long life in Germany and Italy.
The style can be said to have arrived in Sweden in 1810 when the former French marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte arrived as the newly elected Crown Prince who later became King Carl XIV Johan.
Empire designs also heavily influenced the American Federal style.
Empress Marie-Louise's bedroom at the Palace of Compiègne
Art Deco (1925-1925)
Art Deco was a popular international art and design movement from about 1910, when Art Nouveau waned in popularity, into the 1940s. It was seen as elegant, glamorous, functional and modern. The movement was inspired from different styles like Neoclassicism, Biedermeier, Cubism, Art Nouveau and Futurism. It influenced architecture, furniture, design and industrial design as well as paintings, graphic design, fashion and films.
Its popularity grew enormously after the Paris world exhibition of 1925, the 'Exposition Internationale des Art Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes'.
Design Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann
Salon furnished with Ruhlmann furniture
The revived interest in the style started in 1966 when an exhibition was held in Paris called 'Les Années '25'.
The term Art Deco was coined by the British art historian Bevis Hillier in his 1968 book Art Deco of the 1920s and 1930s published by Studio Vista/Dutton Picture books that was the first major work on a hitherto neglected style.
In the 1980s magazines like The World of Interiors, House & Garden and Architectural Digest showed many period interiors as well as Art Deco in modern settings.
The Victoria & Albert Museum's highly acclaimed exhibition in 2003 explored how Art Deco represented new values and responded to human needs through the conscious celebration of fantasy, fun, glamour and commerce becoming the most popular style of the 20th century.
New types of furniture appear like coffee tables and cocktail cabinets that are products of the new more informal lifestyle.
Designers like the Viennese Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) and Scottish Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) at the turn of the century greatly inspired French Art Deco designers.
The grand furniture with exotic dark woods and inlays by French Parisian designers like Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933) is in stark contrast to Finnish designers like Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950) who created light, airy interiors with simple blond furniture.
Design Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Dining room in the president's house at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, USA designed by Eliel Saarinen
In Scandinavia, Britain and the USA it was often the simpler Art Deco furniture that was most popular during this period.
Paul Frankl (1886-1958) was one of the most successful designers of Art Deco furniture working in New York. His best-known pieces were his birchwood 'Skyscraper' bookcases and cabinets.
At the other end of the spectrum was Terence Robsjohn Gibbings (1905-76) who created blonde furniture described as 'Neoclassical art modern creations'. Today it's the simpler Art Deco that is most popular being preferred to pieces with elaborate inlays. An American writer describing Scandinavian Art Deco wrote: 'proportions are small, comfortable and familiar, light woods muted values of clear colours and a general air of reasonableness have made it a distinct style'.
A leading Finnish designer was Alvar Alto (1898-1976) who exhibited laminated birchwood furniture at Fortnum & Masons in 1933.
Much of the best Scandinavian Art Deco furniture was made in Sweden during the 1920s and 1930s and the style continued well into the 1940s (Sweden had the good fortune not to be involved in World War II).
Josef Frank (1885-1967) who immigrated to Sweden in 1933 escaping the Nazis created handsome Art Deco furniture for the firm Svenskt Tenn in Stockholm.
Design Paul Frankl
Design Terence Robsjohn Gibbings
Cark Malmsten (1888-1972) was Sweden's leading Art deco furniture designer who worked closely with NK (Nordiska Kompaniet) creating high quality blonde furniture for major projects such as the Stockholm Town Hall (completed in 1923).
The Swedish designer Axel Einar Hjort(1888-1959) was influenced by the French Art Deco style but changed direction to the Modernist style around 1930. Hjort designed the interior and the furniture for the Swedish Pavilion at the Barcelona Exhibition 1929. This attracted considerable attention and led to a growing international reputation as an innovative and original furniture designer. In 1930 at the Stockholm Exhibition Hjort exhibited twelve room settings from luxurious suites to simpler pinewood furniture.
Design Axel Einar Hjort
Design Alvar Alto
Today with Minimalism regarded as passé the trend is to have a modern interior with some antiques as a contrast. As the simpler Art Deco furniture goes brilliantly with modern furniture often bringing elegance, glamour and panache to what might otherwise be a bland interior. This has led to resurgence in the popularity of Art Deco.
Art Nouveau (1890-1890)
Art Nouveau - French for "The New Art." An international art movement and style of decoration and architecture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, characterized particularly by the curvilinear depiction of leaves and flowers, often in the form of vines. These might also be described as foliate forms, with sinuous lines, and non-geometric, "whiplash" curves. Gustav Klimt. (Austrian, 1862-1918), Alphonse Mucha (Czechoslovakian, 1860-1939), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1861-1901), Aubrey Beardsley (English, 1872-1898), Antonio Gaudi (Spanish, 1852-1926), and Hector Guimard (French, 1867-1942) were among the most prominent artists associated with this style. The roots of Art Nouveau go back to Romanticism, Symbolism, the English Arts and Crafts Movement and William Morris (English, 1834-1896). In America, it inspired, among others, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). The name is derived from "La Maison de l'Art Nouveau," a gallery for interior design that opened in Paris in 1896. Art Nouveau is known in Germany as Jugenstil and in England as Yellow Book Style, and epitomizes what is sometimes called fin de siecle style. It reached the peak of its popularity around 1900, only to be gradually overtaken by art deco and other modernist styles.
The Biedermeier Style
German secretaire, mahogany, circa 1815
A remarkable example of how furniture design can reflect great historical events is provided by the emergence of the Biedermeier style after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815. The mood of the people of Europe changed - and the style of the furniture altered dramatically to match this mood. As Napoleon had conquered most Europe, the pompous, magnificent Empire style with its grand, monumental mahogany furniture had become extremely fashionable, and palaces and houses were accordingly redecorated throughout the continent.
But after Napoleon's final defeat, Europe settled down to a long period of peace. The middle classes, who were prospering, wanted a simpler style, which could be functional as well as beautiful. This style, later known as 'Biedermeier', is essentially Empire furniture shorn of its ormolu mounts, excessive gilding and aggressive self-importance. Its original geometric shape often leads it to being described as the forerunner of modern furniture.
Like most styles, it did not have a name while it was being made, but was only given one after it had been and gone. The term 'Biedermeier' is often wrongly assumed to be the name of a cabinetmaker or designer of the period. During the late 1840s in Austria and Germany, the preceding era (1815-1848) was subject to a barrage of satire, which finally led to the very furniture being mocked. The painter-poet Josef Victor von Scheffel published in 1848 cynical poems with titles as'Biedermann's Evening socialising' and 'Bummelmaier's Complaint' in the Viennese satirical magazine 'Fliegende Blätter' (Flying Leaves). These names were combined into the pseudonym 'Gottlieb Biedermaier' by Ludwig Eichrodt, who together with Adolf Kussmaul published poems by the schoolmaster Samuel Friedrich Sauter under this name. The spelling finally changed into 'Biedermeier' in 1869 when Eichrodt published 'Biedermeier's Liederlust'.
The term 'Biedermeier' came to symbolise the middle classes - reliable, with lots of common sense, in fact very boring! 'Bieder' is a German word meaning common-or-garden, everyday, plain 'Meier' (or Meyer) is a common German surname like Smith.
The misconception that Biedermeier furniture is 'bourgeois' owes everything to the caricaturist and nothing to reality. Many elaborate interiors contained Biedermeier furniture, of course, but the style was adopted at all social levels, from the mercantile to the royal, and its applications varied from the austere to the extravagant.
The most influential furniture designer of the period was Josef Dannhauser (d.1830) who produced many flamboyant pieces. He was the owner of a factory in Vienna (from 1804) with up to 350 workers producing furniture, sculpture and interior decoration. Dannhauser made important pieces of Empire furniture for the Austrian Imperial family. For the middle classes he produced many pieces in the Biedermeier style; there are about 2,500 drawings in the Österreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst (the Museum of Applied Arts), as well as numerous printed catalogues with his furniture designs. After his death, his son Joseph took over, but he closed the firm in 1838. Very few pieces survive that are signed, so numerous optimistic attributions to Dannhauser have been made, based on the widespread use of his published catalogues used as pattern books, not only throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but in many other countries as well.
Pair of chairs and table attributed to Josef Dannhauser. Mahogany, Vienna c1820.
Biedermeier furniture should not be imagined as an individual movement, but rather as a series of ideas stretching from Vienna to Stockholm, encompassing most of the German speaking lands, Scandinavia, Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the early nineteen century, there was a tradition of craftsmen travelling around Europe seeking work, which greatly facilitated the spread of these ideas. There are, however, many regional variations to the furniture. South Germany and Austria produced pieces quite unlike those made in Berlin after the designs of Karl Friedrich von Schinkel (1781-1841), the great Prussian architect and designer. North Germany and Denmark were different again.
Hamburg in North Germany, Copenhagen in Denmark and Gothenburg on Sweden's west coast all had close trading links with Britain, so the furniture in these regions often shows the strong influence of the English Regency style. In Sweden this furniture is usually known by the name'Carl Johan' after the monarch of the time, Carl XIV Johan (1818-1844). The term 'Biedermeier' is less frequently used in Sweden. One noteworthy Swedish feature is the popularity of the native Scandinavian blond woods, especially birch.
Biedermeier furniture and interior decoration have enjoyed an upsurge in popularity in Britain and America since World War II. In continental Europe, however, they have exerted a virtually continuous influence upon architects and designers since their rediscovery at the end of the nineteenth century. During this period, the furniture came back into fashion throughout Germany, Austria and Scandinavia and considerable quantities of Biedermeier Revival furniture was made. This continued into the early years of the twentieth century, when it began to influence Josef Hoffmann, the Bauhaus school, Art Deco, Le Corbusier and others.
In 1979 the Victoria and Albert Museum staged an important exhibition called 'Vienna in the Age of Schubert', which introduced the British public to the Biedermeier style.
As Biedermeier is not a traditional Anglo-Saxon style, it often appeals to people in creative professions such as advertising and the music and film industries. Elton John furnished his whole house in London with blond Biedermeier furniture and a few Art Deco pieces. Another rock artist to appreciate the style was the late rock singer Freddie Mercury from the band Queen. The actor John Cleese and the producer David (now Lord) Puttnam are two people from the film industry who have discovered the beauty of Biedermeier. Much of the contemporary furniture designed by Lord Linley in Britain today is inspired by Biedermeier designs. And as he often uses blond woods, his pieces mix very well with antique Biedermeier originals.
The blond Biedermeier furniture is currently the most sought after. Furniture produced in Austria was usually made in cherry and walnut, as these woods were indigenous to the country. Mahogany was used less often, as it had to be imported. Pieces from Hungary were often made in ash. The South Germans used cherry wood and mahogany most often, but also walnut. In North Germany birch wood and mahogany are most usual, but elm was also popular. In Sweden and Finland birch was the most popular wood, whereas mahogany was mostly used for the grander pieces. The Russians loved their indigenous blond Karelian birch and poplar, but they were often made on the aristocrats' estates by their serfs.
Biedermeier today in the US and Britain is an urban style for modern people. New York designers and decorators led the trend before the Europeans rediscovered the style: New York and Chicago are the main centers for the Biedermeier style today. In Britain most Biedermeier furniture is found in London, as there are few collectors or dealers in the rest of the country.
Biedermeier's subtle appeal lies in its simplicity, which is so easily combined with both Art Deco and contemporary furniture, creating a relaxed mood and informal atmosphere, unlike the many antique styles, which demand a more formal setting.
French cabinetmakerBoulle also spelled Boule or Buhl
born Nov. 11, 1642, Paris, France died Feb. 28, 1732, Paris
one of France’s leading cabinetmakers, whose fashion of inlaying, called boulle, or buhl, work, swept Europe and was heavily imitated during the 18th and 19th centuries. Multitalented, Boulle practiced as an architect, worked in bronze and mosaic, and designed elaborate monograms.
As a young man, Boulle studied drawing, painting, and sculpture; his fame as the most skillful furniture designer in Paris led to his being chosen, in 1672, by Louis XIV to succeed Jean Macé as royal cabinetmaker at Versailles
. Boulle created much of Versailles’s furniture. His masterpiece, however, was his decoration of the dauphin’s private study with flooring in wood mosaic and extraordinarily detailed paneling and marquetry (1681–83; now destroyed). Allowed to execute private commissions, he included among his patrons such eminent royalty as King Philip V of Spain, the duke of Bourbon, and the electors of Bavaria and Cologne
Boulle’s style is characterized by elaborate adornment with brass (occasionally engraved) and tortoiseshell marquetry. Although the technique of marquetry was originally used by 16th-century Italian craftsmen, Boulle developed it to a fine art. He incorporated exotic woods from India and South America. His personal collection of master drawings, prints, and paintings, from which he extracted much of his inspiration, included works by the 15th–16th-century Italian artist Raphael, the 17th-century Flemish artist Rubens, and the 17th-century Italian engraver Stefano della Bella.
Named after British designer and cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale, who published his furniture designs in "The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director" in 1754. The Chippendale style can be classified into three types: French influence, Chinese influence, and Gothic influence. In the United States, the Chippendale style was a more elaborate development of the Queen Anne style with cabriole legs, ball-and-claw foot, and broken pediment scroll top on tall case pieces.
Thomas Chippendale (Otley, near Leeds baptised 16 June [O.S. 5 June] 1718 - November 1779)  was a London cabinet-maker and furniture designer in the mid-Georgian, English Rococo, and Neoclassical styles. He went to London in 1749 where, in 1754, he became the first cabinet-maker to publish a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director. Three editions were published, the first in 1754, followed by a virtual reprint in 1755, and finally a revised and enlarged edition in 1762, by which time Chippendale's illustrated designs began to show signs of Neoclassicism.
Chippendale was much more than just a cabinet maker, he was an interior designer who advised on soft furnishings and even the colour a room should be painted. He worked in partnership initially with the upholsterer James Rannie and later with Rannie's assistant, Thomas Haig, but artistic control of the luxurious furnishings that came from his premises in St. Martin's Lane was firmly in Chippendale's hands.
"A Design for a State Bed" from the Director
In 1978, Christopher Gilbert was able to identify from among over sixty known clients twenty-six documented commissions where surviving furniture by Chippendale could be identified, much of it still in the aristocratic houses for which it was made. Chippendale furniture was supplied to Blair Castle, Perthshire, for the Duke of Atholl (1758); Wilton House, for Henry, 10th Earl of Pembroke (c 1759-1773); Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, for Sir Roland Winn, Bt (1766-85); Mersham Le Hatch, Kent, for Sir Edward Knatchbull, Bt (1767-79); furnishings for the royal family and for the actor David Garrick both in town and at his villa at Hampton, Middlesex; Normanton Park, Rutland and other houses for Sir Gilbert Heathcote Bt (1768-78) that included the management of a funeral for Lady Bridget Heathcote, 1772; Harewood House, Yorkshire, for Edwin Lascelles (1767-78); Newby Hall, Yorkshire, for William Weddell (c 1772-76); Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, for Lord Irwin (1774); Paxton House, Berwickshire, Scotland, for Ninian Home (1774-91); Burton Constable Hall, Yorkshire for William Constable (1768-79); Petworth House, Sussex and other houses for George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1777-79), to name only the most outstanding commissions.
He collaborated in furnishing interiors designed by Robert Adam and at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, and Melbourne House, London, for Lord Melbourne, with Sir William Chambers (c. 1772-75).
"Two Bookcases", from the Director
His workshop was continued by his son, Thomas Chippendale, the younger (1749-1822), who worked in the later Neoclassical and Regency styles, "the rather slick delicacy of Adam's final phase", as Christopher Gilbert assessed it. A bankruptcy and sale of remaining stock in the St. Martin's Lane premises in 1804 did not conclude the firm's latest phase, as the younger Chippendale supplied furniture to Sir Richard Colt Hoare at Stourhead until 1820 (Edwards and Jourdain 1955: 88).
Recognizably "Chippendale" furniture was produced in Dublin and Philadelphia, as might be expected, but also in Lisbon, Copenhagen, and Hamburg. Catherine the Great and Louis XVI both possessed copies of the Director in its French edition. (Gilbert 1978, xvii). As a folk hero of English craftsmanship, he is enshrined as a full-size sculpted figure standing among other notables adorning the facade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
A Chinese Chippendale desk
His designs became very popular again during the middle to late 19th century, leading to widespread adoption of his name in revivals of his style, so much so that dealers spoke of "Chinese Chippendale", "Gothic Chippendale", and even "Irish Chippendale". Many of these later designs that attach his name bear little relationship to his original concepts.
The "Chinese Chippendale" chair is characterized with having a pagoda roofline, dragon motifs, and flipped up ears on the top. The body of the chair has fretwork, a stretcher for carving, a drop in seat with an exposed wooden apron. Its legs are sober in the back and square in section, on block feet. The "Gothick Chippendale" chair has a cupid's bow crest rail, highly pierced splat, and a stretcher that is for show rather than function. The chair also has a completely covered seat as opposed to the drop in seat. The legs are straight or square but do not sit on feet. This chair has a masculine and rectilinear quality. The "Neo-classical Chippendale" chair is a lyre back chair. The integrated crest rail at the top has flipped up ears. There is a boss, or circular decorated motif, often incorporated into the design of this chair. The central splat is in the shape of a lyre. Greek and Roman motifs are often also incorporated into the chair. This chair differs from the Gothick Chippendale by having a drop in seat. It is similar to the Chinese Chippendale by having an exposed apron.
There is a statue and memorial plaque dedicated to Chippendale outside the old Prince Henry's Grammar School in Manor Square, in his home town of Otley, near Leeds, Yorkshire.
Combined the furniture style characteristics of William and Mary, Queen Anne, and Chippendale. Colonial furniture tended to be more conservative and less ornate than English and European furniture of the same style period.
Durant le Directoire, les meubles laqués présentent un travail de sculpture caractéristique : une palmette ronde s'inscrit dans un losange horizontal sur les dossiers des sièges, tandis qu'au-dessous du cube d'assemblage, des pieds à la ceinture, une série de petites feuilles de palmes forme un chapiteau délicat. Sous le Consulat, peu de changements. Les meubles en acajou sont souvent porteurs de plateaux de marbres sombres, gris Sainte-Anne.
La période de la Révolution (1793-1795) commence à éliminer tous les attributs décoratifs de l'Ancien Régime sur le mobilier sur lequel apparaîtront brièvement le bonnet phrygien et les faisceaux de licteur romain. Le court Directoire conserve les lignes générales du Louis XVI sur un mobilier d'où sont exclues de nombreuses pièces jugées superflues. Les pieds postérieurs des sièges, souvent peints en blanc rehaussé d'or à la feuille, sont en "sabres". Des ébénistes qui furent à l'origine du style Louis XVI poursuivent leur création sous le Directoire.
Duncan Phyfe (1795-1795)
Named after American cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe. The Duncan Phyfe style is considered by some art historians as more of an adaptation and refinement of Adam, Sheraton, Hepplewhite, and Empire than a style in itself. It is characterized by carved or reeded legs and neoclassic motifs.
Early American (1640-1640)
Rudimentary utilitarian furniture made from local woods. It was brought from or modeled after European furniture styles, particularly from England, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Spain.
edwardian english (1901-1901)
The Edwardian period was known for elegance and cheer. The furniture during this period was a mix of styles and design, and though few pieces can truly be called Edwardian in style, the period still evokes a time of change and distinction. Edwardian furniture is light, airy and often whimsical. Identifying Edwardian furniture is more about fixing a time when a piece was made, rather than its characteristics. Edwardian furniture comes in many guises, borrowed from times past and ideas new to furniture design.
- The Edwardian period is identified with the reign of King Edward VII of England, son of Queen Victoria. King Edward succeeded to the throne in 1901. He died in 1910. The Victorian period had been marked by dark, jewel-toned colors and heavy furnishings. Interiors were filled with velvets and jacquard fabrics, ornately carved furniture and layered window treatments. The Edwardian period is noted for its lighter aesthetic. Bright colors, lightweight fabrics and furniture designed with delicate lines and upholstered in fabrics with flowing graphics and floral design.
- The art nouveau influence is evident in the design of Edwardian furniture. Edwardian furniture was also influenced by Neoclassical and Art Deco designs. The Edwardian period is also one of revivalism, what may be termed in contemporary times as eclectic. An Edwardian desk, for example, may have slender legs with squared feet, but its drawers will have inlaid veneers and intricate hardware. The overall shape of the desk will be linear, square. But the aesthetic of the desk will be light, delicate.
A popular material that was introduced during the Edwardian period is bamboo or wicker. The airiness was a relief from the heavy Victorian style. An Edwardian-style wicker chair will have a broad, arched back and curled arms. The seat will have a brightly colored cushion with a bold print. The broad back and curled arms is a common trait in Edwardian furniture, often seen in couches and wing-back chairs of the period.
- A distinctive feature of the Edwardian period is that in spite of its revivalist tendencies, the avant-garde furniture movement was a powerful influence. One of the more notable designers of the avant-garde movement was Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His furniture was often painted, and the use of upholstery is limited. His designs were fluid: curving table legs, rolled arms, motifs in inlays depicting vines and flowing feminine shapes.
- Though there were a number of prominent furniture designers at the onset of the twentieth century, not all would be considered celebrants of the Edwardian period. Further, Edwardian furnishings were often reproductions. It became a popular practice to reproduce furniture from previous eras, such as Art Deco and Art Nouveau furniture. These reproductions made up a large portion of the Edwardian period furnishings. In terms of antique furniture, a reproduction Art Deco piece produced in 1902 would be Edwardian.
- The eclecticism of Edwardian furnishings, mixing classic lines with curvilinear details, gave rise to a new approach in interior design, one less rigid and more global than previously seen. Edwardian furniture is less about a specific design and more about a time of great change and new attitudes. Unlike his more reserved and less social mother, King Edward loved to travel and even took an interest in those groups that heretofore had been without influence, such as minority groups and women. The mixing of styles, the borrowing from past and creating new, the brightening and lightening of materials and design, all point to a celebration of the mixing of cultures and of classes.
The Empire Style, sometimes considered the second phase of Neoclassicism, is an early-19th-century design movement in architecture, furniture, other decorative arts, and the visual arts. The style originated in and takes its name from the period when Napoleon I ruled France, known as the First French Empire, where it was intended to idealize Napoleon's leadership and the French state. An earlier phase of the style was called the Adam style in Great Britain and "Louis Seize" or Louis XVI, in France.
The Empire style was based on aspects of the Roman Empire and its many archaeological treasures which had been rediscovered starting in the 18th century. The preceding Louis XVI and Directoire styles employed straighter, simpler designs in comparison with the Rococo style of the 1700s. Empire designs heavily influenced the American Federal style (such as the United States Capitol building), and both were forms of propaganda through architecture. It was a style of the people, not ostentatious but sober and evenly balanced. The style was considered to have "liberated" and "enlightened" architecture just as Napoleon "liberated" the peoples of Europe with his Napoleonic Code.
The Empire period was popularized by the inventive designs of Percier and Fontaine, Napoleon's architects for Malmaison. The designs drew heavily for inspiration on symbols and ornaments borrowed from the glorious ancient Greek and Roman empires. Buildings typically had simple timber frames and box-like constructions, veneered in expensive mahogany imported from the colonies. Biedermeier furniture also made use of ebony details, originally due to financial constraints. Ormolu details (gilded bronze furniture mounts and embellishments) displayed a high level of craftsmanship.
General Bernadotte, later to become King Karl Johan of Sweden and Norway, introduced the Napoleonic style to Sweden, where it became known under his own name. The Karl Johan style remained popular in Scandinavia even as the Empire style disappeared in other parts of Europe. France paid some of its debts to Sweden in ormolu bronzes instead of money, leading to a vogue for crystal chandeliers with bronze from France and crystal from Sweden.
After Napoleon lost power, the Empire style continued to be in favor for many decades, with minor adaptations. There was a revival of the style in the last half of the 19th century in France, again at the beginning of the 20th century, and again in the 1980s.
The most famous Empire-style structures in France are the grand neoclassical Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Vendome column, and La Madeleine, which were built in Paris to emulate the edifices of the Roman Empire. The style took particular root in Imperial Russia, where it was used to celebrate the victory over Napoleon in such memorial structures as the Russian Admiralty, Kazan Cathedral, Alexander Column, and Narva Triumphal Gate. Stalinist architecture is sometimes referred to as Stalin's Empire style.
The style survived in Italy longer than in most of Europe, partly because of its Imperial Roman associations, partly because it was revived as a national style of architecture following the unification of Italy in 1870. Mario Praz wrote about this style as the Italian Empire. In the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States, the Empire style was adapted to local conditions and gradually acquired further expression as the Egyptian Revival, Greek Revival, Biedermeier style, Regency style, and late-Federal style.
Combined the neoclassic furniture style characteristics of Hepplewhite and Sheraton. It is characterized by graceful straight lines, light construction, tapered legs, and the use of inlay, and contrasting veneers.
Named after George I and George II who reigned England from 1714-1760. Georgian furniture is a more ornate version of Queen Anne. It is characterized by heavier proportions, elaborately carved cabriole legs terminating in a pad or ball-and-claw foot, ornate carvings, pierced back splats, and the use of gilding.
Named after English designer and cabinetmaker George Hepplewhite whose designs in "The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Guide" were published posthumously in 1788. The Hepplewhite style is neoclassic and was reproduced in the United States particularly in the Carolinas, Maryland, New England, New York and Virginia. It is characterized by a delicate appearance, tapered legs and the use of contrasting veneers and inlay.
An English style of furniture, which is medieval in appearance with straight lines, rigid designs, sturdy construction, ornate carvings and a dark finish. Much of the early Oak was still the timber used during the reigns of James I and Charles I. The furniture retained many Elizabethan characteristics but the ornament gradually became less prominent.The ornamentation became smaller, lighter with flatter carving, and carpets were now being introduced. The changing of women's fashion, in particular their dresses, led to the development of chairs without arms, and upholstery became popular.Chests disappeared and were replaced with chests of drawers, which often had applied mouldings mitred around the drawer front. This was to cover the dovetail joints which were being used for the first time to construct the drawers. Previously drawers were always hidden behind doors. The gate leg table was introduced. Knobs and drawer pulls were often carved.Many wealthy left England when the civil war broke out in 1642. The building of great houses halted and many of the household staff left for the battlefield.Until 1660 and the restoration of the monarchy, furniture had been made under the Puritan rule and lacked inspiration and reflected increased simplicity. Plain bobbin turning became popular and upholstery reverted to plain leather that was usually held by heavy brass studs.Farthingale Chair - this was developed because ladies wore farthingale hooped skirts, a chair was required for the women to be able to sit down.
LOUIS PHILIPPE (1830-1830)
In reaction to the light tones of Charles X style, that of Louis-Philippe udes darker colours. Lines were strong, chairs were comfortable. Industrialisation was beginning. Lines from the previous century were still in evidence as the "Cathedral style" developed. Natural wood was used in the solid, or veneered.
LOUIS XIV (1638-1638)
The Sun King imposed magnificence.
Jean-Charles Lebrun was in charge of the royal Gobelin works from 1667. Jean Berain followed him, introducing a lighter style. André-Charles Boulle created revolutionary marquetry : alternated effects of metal on pairs of items : coper, pewter, even silver, tnted tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl. This technique was widely copied especially under Napoleon III. Art at Versailles was in all its glory with its decorators and cabinets-makers.
Macé, Sommer, Poitou, Pierre Gole, Cucci, Alexandre Oppenordt, Levasseur.
Furniture : the commode appeared at the end of the XVII century and became very fashionable. The vord "console" was used. The bureau plat replaced the Mazarin bureau with its eight legs. Chairs were varied, ranging from the high-backed padded armchair to the stool. Legs were figural, baluster, claw.
Mirrors, chandelier, candelabra became more common, the cabinet arrived from Italy.
Materials : sculptured, veneered, inlaid : ebony and precious woods were imported to Paris, pear and natural woods were used in the provinces.
Types of decoration : the sun was the royal emblem. The fleur-de-lis remained. Faces of gods, bearded fauns, nymphs, goddesses, allegories, arabesques, cornucopia, foliage abounded. Gilded bronze decoration was popular.
LOUIS XV (1710-1710)
Masterpieces were created under Louis XV. It was a period of extraordinary creativity. Curved lines and asymmetry became the rule. New pieces of furniture were produced to perfection. Foreign masters came to Paris to work at the Court : Bernard van Risen Burgh or B.V.R.B., Vandercruse known as Lacroix whose stamp was P.V.L.C.
Outstanding chairmakers : Nicolas Heurtaut, Tilliar, Famous stamps abounded : Godreaux, Oeben, Criaerd, Dubois, Foliot, Lieutaud, N.Petit, Migeon, Joubert, Roussel...
The fashion for Chinese lacquer had an infulence on European.
veneers e.g in Paris : Vernis Martin. The vital official stamp "JME" appeared on furniture in 1743 followed by the crowned "C" in 1745 on the gilded bronzes.
Caffieri was the great bronze craftsman ot the period.
The provinces kept up with the movement : Nogaret in Lyons, Hache in Grenoble.
Furniture : in addition to cupboards, bookcases, often decorated "sans traverses", new items appeared : chiffoniers, writing desks with flaps, card tables, roll-top desks, ladies' furniture : dressing tables, chairs with short armrests, desks, escritoires. Wooden panelling could be seen.
Materials : most precious woods imported, gilt wood, bronzes.
Types of decoration : flora and fauna combined with chinoiseries and feminine faces, flowers and moulding work. The wood was often painted or in gold leaf. Considerable bronze arnamentation was an essential part of some items. Flower marquetry was very fine.
LOUIS XVI (1774-1774)
Après la découverte des fouilles d'Herculanum et de Pompéi, la mode est à l'antique. Les influences grecque, étrusque, romaine sont fortes.
Georges Jacob est le grand ébéniste de l'époque ; il participe à la création du style. Sont également actifs Riesener, Oeben, Dubois, Saunier, Roentgen Topino, R.V.L.C.(Roger Van der Cruz La Croix), Benneman, Pluvinet, Montigny, Carlin, Weisweiller, Leleu.
Armoires bibliothèques grillagées, commodes, certains meubles d'appui, des encoignures sont en demi-lune. Certains modèles présentent les angles en "pans coupés" ou en colonnes et demi-colonnes cannelées.
Les meubles des deux styles précédents se retrouvent, les dessertes, les bureaux plats et en cylindre. Les pieds du siège sont en colonnes cannelées parfois "rudentées", "toupies", "fuseaux" ou "gaines".
En plus de la flore, des paniers fleuris, des attributs amoureux, ou de mariages (2 oiseaux, 2 coeurs), les rubans plissés formant un noeud, la symétrie du classicisme domine.
Des plaques de porcelaine de Sèvres ornent certains meubles précieux dont le corps est en acajou.
L'acajou massif ou plaqué est utilisé à tous les stades de la coupe : moucheté, chenillé, flammé importé de Saint-Domingue, en une marqueterie recherchée de fleurs en bouquets retenu par des rubans. Les marbres sont gris ou blancs. Le bois naturel est parfois laqué en blanc et gris rehaussé d'or à la feuille.
The Arts and Craft is characterized by simple utilitarian design and construction. Arts and Craft style furniture is also referred to as Mission.
Napoleon III (1848-1848)
The Napoleon III style is the name commonly given to a style of architecture in France, especially in Paris, that flourished during the Second French Empire under the patronage of Napoleon III. It is a variant of the Second Empire style seen elsewhere throughout the world at the time. The term "Napoleon III style" (French: style Napoléon III) may be contemporary: legend has it that the when the Empress Eugénie asked architect Charles Garnier whether the iconic Palais Garnier, under construction in 1862, would be built in the Greek or Roman style, he replied, "It is in the Napoleon III style, Madame!"
The Napoleon III style is associated with the renovation of Paris under Baron Haussmann between 1852 and 1870. The buildings of the renovation show a singularity of purpose and design, a consistency of urban planning that was unusual for the period. Numerous public edifices: railway stations, the tribunal de commerce, and the Palais Garnier were constructed in the style. The style is characterised by high façades, mansard roofs, and, more rarely, pavilions. Richly decorated but with clearly defined outlines, Napoleon III structures are distinct from other Second Empire buildings.
The term is also not reserved exclusively for architecture. It is used also to describe furniture of the period, especially in the marketplace, where other "royal period" styles are commonplace.
Pennsylvania Dutch (1720-1720)
A simple, utilitarian American country style of furniture with Germanic influences. It is characterized by colorful folk painting on case pieces.
Queen Anne (1700-1700)
Named after Queen Anne of England who reigned from 1702-1714. The Queen Anne style is a refinement of the William and Mary style with a moderately proportioned, graceful appearance. It is characterized by cabriole legs terminating in a pad or drake foot, fiddle-back chair back, and bat wing shaped drawer pulls. The gracious and comfortable furniture from the Dutch influence continued and the English craftsman were developing their own skills.
This style began to appear at the beginning of the century and is a typical example of a transition style influenced by the preceding movement and at the same time presenting new forms of décoration indicating change. Lines had a new fluidity whilst retaining their symmetry. Charles Cressent, the master cabnetmaker, was to the Régencs period what Boulle had been under Louis XIV.
Also : Mondon, Dubois, Godreaux, Joubert, Doirat ....
Furniture : the commode, veneer of precious wood with geometric design together with much gilt bronze decoration.
Bookcases with meshed doors, cane chairs with curved "sabot de biche" legs. The earlier naturalim became stylized.
Tables, Duchesse chaises longues, "châssis" chairs, bureaux plats, consoles, smaller sized tables, cupboards, regulators, centre lights and walls lamps were numerous.
Materials : precious wood and ebony, Brazilian rosewood. Tulipwood appeared at the end of this period.
Types of decoration : much carving especially of stylized palm leaf, sunflower, pomegranate, with trellis background, honeycomb design. The latter "nid d'abeille" was a common background for Régence style pieces. Bronze and giltwood used.
The Regency period of furniture history in England extends for at least the first 30 years of the nineteenth century and bears little connection with the actual reign of the Prince Regent, George, 1811-1820.
Regency furniture represents, in a sense, the taking of the neoclassical antique style as seen in Robert Adam furniture and his descendants in later Georgian times one step further. While previously the antiques of the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome were a source of inspiration for furniture designers, in the Regency era attempts are made to make actual copies of ancient furniture, and there is a new interest in the heritage of Egyptian furniture.
Antique Regency style furniture has plain, slender, elegant lines and avoids shapes and curves for surfaces. The use of carving and elaborate forms of decoration and ornament like marquetry declines. There is a great deal of brass work employed and much use of rosewood and zebrawood, because they allowed striking use of colour in veneers, alongside mahogany, which was still the wood of choice for most library, dining room, and regency bedroom furniture.
Brass Egyptian Head Ornament
French polishing came into vogue around 1810 and allowed for smoother finishes. Regency furniture was often covered with woven and printed fabrics particularly chintz.
1800. Beech wood, painted in white and grey in imitation of marble. Copied from a marble seat in Rome.
In 1794 the architect Henry Holland sent his designers to Rome to collect classical objects the results of which were published as a collection of drawings, "Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture", in 1799-80. These provided designers and craftsmen with ideas for furniture and other pieces in the classical style of the Regency period.
Thomas Sheraton's "Cabinet Dictionary" of 1803 included Grecian couches, animal monopodia, and chairs with legs curving forwards, the "sabre" design, one of the most characteristic of the Regency period. Later in 1804-1806 Sheraton published the first Egyptian designs used in English furniture, in the " The cabinet maker and artist's encyclopedia".
Egyptian style Klismos Chair, 1805.
"English Empire" Style
In 1807 the designer Thomas Hope published his "Household Furniture and Decoration". Hope attempted to make direct copies or adaptations of classical and ancient furniture using wood and bronze and in doing so commonly used motifs such as the winged Sphinx, winged lions and lion masks, hocked animal legs, griffins, Egyptian heads and gods, and lyres.
Regency Armchair, 1804 by George Smith.
Buy a reproduction of this chair.
Hope's fine regency furniture was fairly large in form, and somewhat serious, and was made more palatable for the mass market by George Smith in his "A Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration" in 1808, and in 1826 the " The cabinet-maker and upholsterer's guide".
Other Regency Styles
Gothic furniture underwent another revival during the Regency era as did Chinese and chinoiserie styles.
Chinese Clothes Press, 1815.
The craze for pseudo Chinese furniture saw the use of much decorative japanning with wing pagoda and dragon motifs, black and gold lacquered furniture and imitation bamboo chairs.
The Gothic is always present in English furniture and saw much popularity in the Regency period. Reproductions and new developments of Gothic pieces were often made by the cabinet makers George Seddon and Sons who supplied Gothic furniture to Windsor Castle, 1827-33.
By 1826 the cabinetmaker George Smith complained of the growth of eclecticism, "a melange or mixture of all the different styles associated together". This chaotic swirl of styles is to be found in the Early Victorian age.
See also the resources page for Regency period history books.
Robert Adam (1760-1760)
Named for architect Robert Adam who studied ancient architecture in Italy. While in England, he designed furniture with classical details that would fit the character of his classically designed homes. The Adam style was limitedly reproduced by cabinetmakers in the United States. Adam interior millwork and woodwork was reproduced in South Carolina
A simple and utilitarian style produced by the religious group, the United Society of Believers, in self-contained communities within the United States. It is characterized by straight tapered legs, woven square chair seats and mushroom shaped wooden knobs.
Named for English designer Thomas Sheraton who published his designs in "The Cabinet Makers and Upholsterers Drawing Book" in 1791. It is a neoclassical style characterized by delicate straight lines, light construction, contrasting veneers and neoclassical motifs and ornamentation. The Sheraton style was the most reproduced style in the United States during the Federal
Juxtaposant les attributs et les ornements spécifiques du Louis XV "rocaille" aux lignes devenues droites du Louis XVI, le style Transition se distingue nettement.
Les commodes présentent une caisse droite Louis XVI aux angles en "pans coupés" dont le panneau central de la façade se détache en légère avancée : "ressaut" sur des pieds galbés Louis XV. L'ensemble des meubles comportent moins de modèles.
Les marqueteries sont encore claires, plus géométriques. Toujours les fleurs dans des vases et des paniers. Les "ruines", les panneaux de laque de Coromandel sont à la mode. Les bronzes sont plus sobres, réservés aux poignées de tirage, entrées de serrures, chutes d'angles, sabots et galeries.
Tous les bois précieux de l'époque précédente se retrouvent, ainsi que laque, bronze doré, dans les mêmes techniques de placage et de marquetage.
Named for Queen Victoria of England who reigned from 1837-1901. The Victorian style draws its influence from gothic forms with heavy proportions, dark finish, elaborate carving, and ornamentation. The Victorian period was the first furniture style of mass production.
William & Mary (1690-1690)
Named after William and Mary of England (1689-1694). It has Dutch and Chinese influences and is characterized by trumpet turned legs terminating in a ball or Spanish foot, padded or caned chair seats, and Oriental lacquer-work.
William and Mary (1690-1690)
William and Mary is a European influenced style, named after the reign of William and Mary of England (1689-1694). William and Mary has Dutch and Chinese influences. It is characterized by trumpet turned legs terminating in a ball or Spanish foot, padded or caned chair seats, and Oriental lacquer-work.