The restoration of Charles II as monarch to the English throne heralded great changes for English cabinet making generally where Charles brought back with him memories of the glamour of the French court of Louis XIV.
Many large London homes had also been destroyed during the Great Fire of 1666 and new houses and their owners required modern rather than old style furniture. English craftsmen were copying French styling and cabinet making techniques to provide what people wanted. Walnut was now becoming the wood of choice for solid wood carving and also for veneering. The ‘barley-sugar’ twist, originally Baroque, became very popular and was now being turned on a lathe and much produced not only for chairs, but for tables, cabinets and chests. Chair backs were also becoming taller and narrower with central panels of woven cane. This cane work has often perished over the years, but can be replaced or padded out with velvet, also the fashion of the period. Front stretchers to chairs were also disappearing as general domestic hygiene grew. Floors were now being swept more frequently so sitters no longer had to raise their feet on stretchers above the general mess.
Large quantities of lacquered cabinets were now being imported from China but the fashion, in the Louis XIV style, was to place them on a stand. These cabinets, made of red and black lacquer, had two highly decorated doors which then opened to reveal many smaller drawers. Although the cabinet itself was decorated in the Chinese style, the decoration on the cabinet stands essentially remained European. Sometimes these stands turn up on their own with marble tops added, to be used as occasional tables.
Narrow back Restoration chairs as sets are very rare but individual or pairs of chairs can still be found. When looking for antique dining chairs , Lancashire antique dealers will have a good selection to show you.
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