If we think of Thomas Chippendale, amply proportioned dining chairs with bulbous cabriole legs will often come to mind. However the mid 18th writhing curves of the rococo heavily influenced by the French court of Louis XV (1723-74) was really in fashion for a relatively short period of time in England and Chippendale quickly diversified and moved on to the much straighter more compact lines of neo-classicism, alongside chinoiserie and gothic styles. (more…)
The exuberance of Rococo styling has yo-yoed in and out of fashion over the years. From French influences in its Louis XIV hey day, a brief flowering in the mid 18th century, to a serious adoption of the style in the Victorian era, in antique furniture design terms it was always perhaps a little too ostentatious to be taken too seriously. (more…)
The Victorian era is renowned as a period of many and varied revivals of styles, and the antiques world today has been left with a myriad of choice. However it is the French Rococo revival that perhaps remains as a style that typifies this era more than any other.
The restrained and classical lines of the Regency period could no longer capture the imagination of early Victorians. Outward looking and expansive, Victorians wanted the world brought to them, and it was Paris’s Le Style Empire brought visually through a Louis XIV Rococo Revival that suitably reflected the aspirations of the expanding British Empire. (more…)
The day bed or chaise longue had been a fashionable piece of furniture in wealthy English households since the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660. Originally it took the form of an elongated chair supported by six or eight legs on which women could rest during the day without having to retire to their bedrooms which could be some distance from the family sitting rooms. (more…)
The mechanisation of furniture manufacture during the Victorian era resulted in a plethora of well made serviceable items such as chests of drawers being turned out for the emerging middle class Victorians in their thousands. This aspiring new market now wanted what the upper classes had had fifty or so years before and its new wealth meant that it was able to indulge itself in the purchase of large impressive pieces of furniture made of Honduras mahogany and other exotic hard woods. Their houses as well as their aspirations were expanding and these large pieces of furniture were representative of their success. A simple example of this was the increase in the size of a chest of drawers from four gradated drawers to five. (more…)
Collecting antiques is all down to individual choice. However collecting antique furniture is a little different. Of course, you can still sit and look at your latest acquisition and enjoy it, but these are antiques that you live with and use. It would be unusual (and unaffordable for most) to build up a collection of French 18th century commodes and there certainly would not be the room for two or three large break fronted antique bookcases in the average home. Antique furniture can be viewed, but it is also there to be sat on, sat around, at times slept on and used for storage. When you buy a piece of antique furniture it becomes part of the home. (more…)
A predominance of antique furniture has French names, which can be rather daunting for the novice antiques buyer. However the names of these pieces tend to dictate what they were mainly used for where a writing table would be an ‘escritoire’, a corner cupboard an ‘encoignures’ and an arm chair a ‘fauteuil’. A nice example of a piece of antique furniture named through association is the ‘caquetoire’ chair or conversation chair dating back many hundreds of years in its origins to the European and particularly French Renaissance. These are chairs on which groups of women particularly would sit and gossip together. Caquetoire actually comes from ‘caqueter’ which means ‘to chat’.
The British love affair with antiques is all set to continue with the BBC’s bid to unearth an antiques master from amongst the general public. A brand new quiz show titled Antiques Master, playing on prime time and made by the same department at the BBC as Mastermind, will test the skills and knowledge of budding amateur antiques aficionados with a series of questions and challenges on antiques. (more…)
Up until the advent of plate glass at the beginning of the 16th century, mirrors were generally small, ornate and hand held. The reflective face of the mirror until plate glass was made of highly polished precious gold, silver or bronze and did not produce a good reflection as it was generally too opaque. (more…)
Much of English antique furniture can quite simply be dated by the wood it was made from. Although much early English furniture was made of oak, any piece made of walnut usually dates from around 1670, and anything in mahogany from 1725. It was the distinctions between the basic joinery techniques working with oak furniture and the evolution of sophisticated cabinetry techniques enabled through the close grain of walnut and mahogany which brought about a rebirth in English furniture making. (more…)