Much Victorian furniture was machine made and although machine turning and sawing could produce well turned legs, quality carving and veneering at great speed, it was not able to replicate the craftsmanship of 18th and early 19th century cabinet makers. However, what it did was provide revivals of older styles to a much wider market and there is no doubt that many more people enjoyed the benefit of good furniture during this period. However, through mass production and reproduction, no truly Victorian style emerged.
It was the Arts and Crafts Movement that managed to produce what could be classed as unique Victorian furniture. William Morris and followers of the movement were adamant that any items produced under their banner should be hand crafted and celebrate the skill of the artisan rather than the efficiency of the machine.
Although Arts and Crafts furniture tends to look backward to Gothic styling and handcraftsmanship of that period, its exposed joints, finely tapered legs, and plain rather than fussy architectural construction means that as well as promoting the ethos of the movement, pieces are easily recognisable. Furniture designed by Mackmurdo, Ashbee, Voysey and others became the standard bearers for good craftsmanship and design during the Victorian era that is unique to the Arts and Crafts Movement. Mackmurdo’s originality in his use of twisting plant motifs on his chair designs has been regarded as a forerunner of the Art Nouveau.
If you are interested in purchasing Arts and Crafts furniture, Preston specialist antique dealers will be able to show you some fine individual pieces.
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