The Victorian era was one of many revivals from faithful reproductions of Queen Anne and designers like Sheraton, Hepplewhite and Chippendale, to the mock medieval styles of the Victorian Gothic Revival. However the epitome of Victoriana for many is a return to the curving shapes of the French Rococo and nothing emulates this more than sets of balloon-back antique dining chairs which at the time were evolving to become elegant but essentially robust and comfortable pieces of dining room furniture.
Balloon-back chairs were an overflow from plainer Regency examples of antique dining chairs and through their naturally curvy design quickly became adapted to the Victorian taste for heavier more rounded furniture. The chair itself developed into what is considered now to be the traditional balloon shape of the period. The cresting on the top rail became more rounded and the sides more nipped in, and a larger more rounded seat evolved to accommodate the fullness of the crinoline which was at the height of its fashion from the 1850s onwards and remained so while Victoria was on the throne.
The legs of balloon-back antique dining chairs vary in style from the turned and reeded baluster leg sometimes with castors, to the cabriole leg often with the ball and claw at the base. Lighter, more decorative designs of the chair were used for boudoir or drawing room furniture, where the more robust examples were kept for dining. As with the fondness for the eclectic, a variety of woods were used from fine rosewood, to mahogany and imported walnut. Cheaper examples were also made of lighter woods and stained to emulate the more expensive hard woods.
Examples include a set of eight Victorian mahogany well rounded balloon back chairs with the cabriole leg. This set of antique dining chairs is not only pleasing to the eye, but comfortable and robust to sit on.
Further superb examples of these period antique dining chairs can be found in Preston in Lancashire, in Cheshire or elsewhere as well as London.
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