It is the heavily guilded console table that we tend to associate with the interior designer William Kent (1684-1748). Often when visiting impressive stately homes, we will have walked past marble topped side tables, heavily guilded and carved with animal motifs, shells, scrolls and leaves sitting on two squashed and exaggerated cabriole legs centrally coming together on large lion’s claws.
Kent’s pieces were very elaborate, usually guilded and followed the Italian Baroque in design. Like Robert Adam, he was an interior designer who tended to match his furniture with the overall architectural quality of his house design. He used much heavy decoration and adornment in his furniture design, often female masks and shell motifs on his desks, plus flowers, fruit, masks again and scroll legs on his chairs.
Kent also worked with the 18th century Palladian revival styles where, like Robert Adam, he attempted to recreate the grandeur of ancient Greece and Rome. The architectural quality of Palladianism used by Kent merged more readily with the much simpler lines of the neo-classic design of Robert Adam who was born some 40 years later than Kent. Like Robert Adam, Kent also studied in Rome; however Kent studied painting whereas Adam studied architecture although Kent was also described as an architect-decorator much like Adam.
Although their styles seem very different, the heavily ornate of Kent and the much lighter and more elegant of Adam, both styles heavily embraced the magnificence of ancient Greece and Rome. Designs created by both Kent and Adam are still used in furniture making today and examples of period and revival antique desks and chairs reflecting some of their inimitable styles can be seen in Lancashire and London dealerships.
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