It was during the relatively short reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) that some of the most beautiful and most valued English antique furniture was made. Almost without exception during this period, these finely crafted pieces of cabinet furniture were made from walnut – which over time has produced one of the most beautiful and recognisable patinas. Ironically, it was during her reign that walnut as a material began to be eclipsed by imported mahogany. Overuse as well as heavy frosts in 1709 and a French embargo on exports of walnut put paid to the ready supplies of this superior wood.
One of the most recognisable pieces of Queen Anne antique furniture is the walnut dining chair. These pieces are solidly built with broad seats and high backs, often with vase shaped splats encased within a cresting rail. One of the most iconic features of this period is the (more…)
The style of the Rococo, and the Neo-classical that replaced, it couldn’t have been more different. The curving and flowing Rococo style, inherited from Louis XV of France, only appeared briefly during the middle of the 18th century in Britain and was superseded by the much simpler lines of the Neo-classical. One of its exponents was Robert Adam, the famous architect/decorator who was inspired by the classical revivals that were taking place in Italy prompted by numerous artefacts being unearthed through excavations in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Rome.
Despite the simpler lines of the Neo-classical, they would not be regarded as severe where Adam’s designed cabinetry was still elaborately decorated with low relief marquetry and parquetry motifs, compared to the heavily carved designs of the Rococo. The whole ethos of the Neo-classical was lightness and elegance rather than flamboyance – which was characterised in the (more…)
Going to the antiques auctions can be very exciting, particularly when there is something that you particularly want. However buying antiques is a precise art and novice antiquers need to be wary of fakes and marriages that will detract from the value of the item, although large auction houses will usually refund monies if the article is later proved to be a fake. (more…)
The Victorian era was very much one of revivals when it comes to antique furniture of the period and much was borrowed from earlier designs. Victorian furniture manufacturers also used a great deal of poetic licence to satisfy their mass markets and very few of these revival pieces were faithful copies of the originals. Not only did they differ in quality, where mass production took away much of the hand crafted cabinetry of period pieces, but also materials and construction methods were used ad libitum to create an eclecticism of choice for the fashion and class conscious Victorians.
Although mass production does tend to detract rather from what the discerning antiques aficionado is after, there were many attractive pieces, hybrid or otherwise, produced during this period that remain to represent all the eccentricities of the period.
There are however a few faithful copies where the quality of the piece (more…)
Names like William Morris, John Ruskin and Archibald Knox have become synonymous with the Arts and Crafts’ rebellion against Victorian mass production. Their vision was a return to the celebration of the individual craftsman through their simply built furniture, predominately made of English oak. Pieces of antique furniture made under the Arts and Crafts banner during the late 19th century are easily recognisable therefore through their simplicity and restraint against the flamboyance of Victorian revivals.
Along with the instantly recognisable handmade pieces came the Arts and Crafts vision for a return to the simple life. Colleges supported by C R Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft were set up in 1880’s Whitechapel in London where working men were taught design in the fields of coppersmithing, lithography and cabinet making. The items that were made would then be sold to (more…)
Antiques expert Paul Hayes was photographed in tabloid newspaper The Sun last week holding photographs of antiques that have been sent in to the newspaper for valuation following their Suntiques Roadshow appeal for hidden and forgotten treasures that people have in their homes.
‘It was a pleasure to look through the Sun readers’ photos. It’s amazing what treasures people have just lying around. The response was fantastic, which just shows how much we enjoy having a little piece of history on the mantelpiece.’
Paul also came up with some top tips to unearth treasures. Car boot sales were at the very top of his list, looking for good quality retro items, hand made ceramics with the artist’s signature, and quality jewellery by Dior and Cartier. He also suggested taking loads of (more…)
Newsweek’s chairman Richard M Smith, interviewing Christie’s CEO Edward Dolman, last week asked the porter come CEO about the difficulties brought about by the downturn in the marketplace and asked if there were antiques bargains to be had. Dolman suggested that, due to certain elements, namely death, debt and divorce, amazing pieces of antique furniture and collectibles will still come up for sale in the art and antiques trade. He went on to say that much of what is sold through Christie’s are rare and amazing objects that don’t come up for sale often, so when they do, clients will fight to obtain the pieces that they want, so prices will remain high. An example of high prices at auction was the sale of a statue entitled the Walking Man by the artist Alberto Giacometti which sold through Christies arch rival Sotherby’s for $104.3 million.
When asked how Christies were able to survive declining sales, Dolman cited the demise of (more…)
The humble pine chest in all its many forms has been around since the Middle Ages and still remains a central part of home furniture. It has evolved from its beginnings purely as a storage chest, its metamorphosis into fine cabinetry as the chest of drawers, to its integral role as a piece of working furniture commonly known as a blanket chest during the Victorian period. Almost all servants, nurseries and work areas had solidly built examples of these antique chests and many fine honey coloured waxed Victorian and Edwardian examples can still be bought today.
It was most often the children’s nursery where many of these old chests ended up. Even in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, much older 18th century examples were being used to store all manner of things. Most were of a fairly basic rectangular frame construction. Some had stencil decoration and simulated oak graining and ebony inlay, other examples were smaller and covered with (more…)
A rather tongue in cheek article by Craig Brown in the Daily Mail this week on: ‘1000 things to avoid before you die’, suggested that so called ‘fashionable hotels’ were getting rid of any of their more mature hotel staff and anything resembling antique furniture and replacing both staff and furniture with Brad Pitt look alikes and lots of black vinyl to bring a buzz back into the hotel trade. As the article progressed however, it was clear that he was pointing the finger firmly at what had replaced the old familiar and he was keen that hotels should now throw out the modern and return again to the old.
Craig Brown’s main point was that the comfort of hotel guests was being compromised by having all these ‘sexy young things in tight fitting suits’ installed where, instead of wearing welcoming smiles, they were casting snooty glances at their not so young guests. He suggested to hoteliers that the way for guests to feel comfortable again, and good about themselves, was to reinstate the (more…)
When you think of the artefacts, real or otherwise, that Harrison Ford’s alter-ego Indiana Jones rubs up against in films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom, it is hardly surprising that Harrison Ford himself is an ardent fan of the Antiques Roadshow. Particularly nice to know too that it is the British version of the programme that actually floats his boat, or canal boat – as Harrison is also a fan of British canal holidays.
Ted Thornhill, reporting in the Metro this week, said that the Hollywood star was addicted to the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow which he watched avidly with his wife Calista Flockhart. The British form of the Roadshow reaches American audiences via the cable channel BBC America, which also serves up other British delights such as Doctor Who and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. The British version of the Roadshow is now hitting 7.5 million viewers in the US and will probably rise even further after this (more…)