The speed of industrial production during Victoria’s reign created in its wake many critics. Although voiced by people like Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens, dissention was also to be seen within art, design and culture. In fashion, there were reactions against the tight laced bustle and in commerce against hard and fast American selling; even colours seemed to suggest one side of the cultural divide where bright purples and greens suggested the new aniline dyes of mechanised processes where pastel colours were produced by more natural means.
The stalwart Victorian wing arm chair also came under attack where Morris and Co. produced their own version of a hand made rush seated Sussex arm chair which, for him and his followers, promoted the work of the artisan rather than the machine. William Morris politically and aesthetically was very much against the machine age and Victorian mass production and through the Arts and Crafts movement wanted to restore the working man’s dignity which he felt was being compromised in the machine shops. However, financially it was difficult to compete with mechanisation where only the wealthy could afford his handmade pieces of antique furniture.
Many fine pieces of hand made Arts and Crafts furniture survive today and are easily recognisable. Pieces are predominantly made of oak and some are made in revival styles; a particular example is Gilbert Olgilvie’s Queen Anne style, plus the fine simple styling and plain lines of pieces by Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo and CFA Voysey.
Good examples of Arts and Crafts furniture are to be found in Lancashire, Cumbria and the surrounding areas, and specialist antiques dealers will provide guidance and background information on pieces.
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