20 Apr 2021


April 30, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Chairs,History of Antiques — David

If you line up three antique dining chairs of differing styles attributed to the furniture designer Thomas Chippendale, they will all have a certain look about them that immediately connects them to this designer.

Chippendale always was associated with a number of different styles and genres from the rococo, through to neo-classical, gothic and chinoiserie (Chinese). Chippendale offered these different styles through his Director, where engravings of pieces were put on display like a modern day catalogue, so that his wealthy clients could choose the sets of furniture they wanted. Chippendale, not only provided furniture handmade in his workshops, but also some of the soft furnishings to create a certain look to large country (more…)

April 29, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Cabinets,History of Antiques — Richard

Some of the earliest European antique furniture came from Italy and very few original examples survive today. A rare Italian Renaissance walnut trestle table, dating from the 1550s, features heavily carved acanthus leaves on the feet and across the stretchers between the three trestles that support it,antique chests or cassone with heavily painted panels and credenzas used for serving food are all fine survivors from this early period.

Italy, as the birthplace of the Renaissance, has some level of expectation placed upon it to produce really fine antique furniture. The 17th century saw it spearheading the baroque style which produced curvaceous extravagant pieces of furniture decorated with motifs of the sea, to include gods and sea monsters. Hardly surprising that, with this level of ornamentation, sculptors rather than antique cabinet (more…)

April 28, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Cabinets,Arts and Crafts Furniture,History of Antiques — Harriet

The lighter, late 18th century English Neo-classical furniture, designed by Sheraton was now being eclipsed in favour of generally heavier made furniture. Designers such as Thomas Hope and George Smith, influenced by the architectural qualities of French decorators such as Fontaine and Percier, were producing much heavier pieces than those made by Sheraton a few years earlier.

Rosewood was now replacing satinwood, very popular during the Neo-classical period, although mahogany still remained popular and French brass inlay boulle work also came back into fashion. These heavier Neo-classical forms remained in vogue for the first quarter of the 19th century until they began to compete with revivals of historicist styles such as Jacobean and Gothic. The French Rococo or ‘Louis Quatorze style’ also made a revival during this period but these new 19th century pieces were hybrids of earlier period (more…)

April 27, 2010 - Filed under: History of Antiques — David

The period after the French Revolution (1789-1799), known as the Directoire, saw a greater simplicity in furniture design. Although this tied in with English taste for the much lighter designs of the Neo-classical, revolution had meant a general change in taste and the elaborate rococo designs of 20 years earlier were left behind. Also Napoleon, who rose to prominence in France a few years after the end of the Revolution, embraced the classical styles of Greece and Rome which he saw as mirroring his own aspirations of empire.

It was the architecture of ancient Rome which ultimately led to a new style developing in France. Antique furniture became very plain, but also very elegant, and any decoration was usually plainly carved or in shallow relief. Chairs were rectilinear in line with (more…)

April 26, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Chairs,History of Antiques — Richard

These days, the modern three piece suite may only have a ten year shelf life before it is either sold on or discarded. Yet there are antique armchairs and sofas in use today that still have their original upholstery.

Early upholstery was a highly prized commodity, where the cover cost far more that the chair carcass itself. For this reason, all upholstered furniture was supplied with loose covers to protect the tapestry work from light and dust when the furniture was not being used.

By 1650 many wealthy households had some form of upholstered antique furniture and basic construction hardly changed until the middle of the 19th century. Crude webbing was stretched across the seat frame, which was then covered in sacking. Then different types of stuffing, such as animal hair, feathers, wool and even straw, grass or leaves would be placed in the centre. If overstuffed, the cover was then (more…)

April 24, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Chairs,History of Antiques — Harriet

The flowing lines of mid 18th century French Rococo only remained as a strong influence in Britain for ten years or so, although they have been revived many times since. From 1750 onwards, French cabinet makers and designers had already begun to look back to the more architectural designs of Louis XIV and were now seeking to create an authentic classical look.

The antiquities discovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum were creating new fashion ideas. The French commode, a piece of antique furniture reminiscent of the Rococo period and particularly the reign of Louis XIV, was now losing its rounded bombe and serpentine shape, the legs were now short and fluted and any ormolu mount decoration was becoming more architectural rather than floral in design.

Seating was also beginning to lose its Rococo curviness and the cabriole leg, which had been popular since the reign of Queen Anne in Britain, was now superseded by something much slimmer and finer. Sharply carved classical (more…)

April 23, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Tables,History of Antiques — David

Side tables came into common usage from the late 17th century onwards and are still very popular today.

The antique tables, very much used for display, reflected the designs of the times and often it is the earlier examples that are exquisitely handmade by master cabinet makers of the day. A late 17th century antique table for example could be walnut oyster veneered, with intricate marquetry seaweed panels, oak barley twist legs and Y-shaped stretchers. The caramel coloured patinas that develop over 300 years or so only add to the superb craftsmanship to produce an antique side table that is highly sought after today.

Another later Georgian example would reflect Neo-classical design and could be demi-lune in shape and painted with classical motifs with painted roundels denoting some legend or other on the top, all painted onto a cream background which is then (more…)

April 22, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Chests,History of Antiques — Richard

The original antique chest of drawers was a 17th century piece made of oak. They were tall, with four flights of gradated drawers, the largest being at the bottom. The drawers allowed a three inch space at the back to allow for air to circulate. Some drawer fronts had mouldings, many had drop brass handles, plus each drawer had a lock as valuables as well as clothes were often kept in these antique chests.

The first 30 years of the 18th century was the age of walnut and many fine marquetried and veneered examples were made at this time. Walnut was veneered onto a pine carcass, rather than oak, but the drawers were made of oak. Initially these chests were placed on stands, usually made of solid walnut. The change from walnut to mahogany produced more lavish pieces of antique furniture which (more…)

April 21, 2010 - Filed under: Auctions,History of Antiques — Harriet

Eighteenth century period ‘Chippendale style’ furniture is highly prized in America and pieces have fetched phenomenal prices at auction. Even as early as the 1930s, a tea table made by John Goddard of Newport, Rhode Island (1723/4-85), was sold for $29,000, a huge sum in its day when generally period American pieces rarely superseded $4,000. More recently in 1986, a Cadwalader suite easy chair sold for $2,750,000 which was eventually superseded in 1989 by a Newport secretary-desk which reached the staggering figure of $12,100,000. Prices have settled since, although good pieces generally still fetch many thousands of pounds.

Although American Chippendale fetches very high prices at auction, the condition has to be perfect. Also because they are so valued, there are many fakes around. Although some may consider a new leg to be restoration rather than a fake, on an American piece it can reduce the hammer price from an estimated $150,000 to only $20,000. Thus many dealers are asked to guarantee condition on sale.

For the discerning purchaser it is all about rarity, condition and a good provenance. A period surface and a good grain show age and quality, and a rare design pushes the price up. While having a good provenance is ideal however, a good piece of (more…)

April 20, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Cabinets,Antique Chairs,History of Antiques — David

When we consider Chippendale furniture, the name and style is synonymous with something quintessentially British. However, the influence of this great English 18th century antique furniture designer spread across to America in a number of ways.

Certainly thousands of period pieces of Chippendale furniture were exported from England to America throughout the 18th century. However a growing merchant class in America meant that a home grown antique cabinet making industry was now developing. The period American versions used a variety of local woods that were less prone to worm infestation and the vagaries of a drier climate that took their toll on the English imports. Also, the early American ‘Chippendale style’ produced hybrid forms (known as transitional furniture) where some pieces were more similar in design to Queen Anne and integrated design elements such as the flat rather than pierced splat synonymous with (more…)

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