When we consider Regency antique furniture, we think of something rectilinear with simple lines and beautiful wood finishes based on architectural and archaeological ideas from ancient Greece and Rome. However, by the Regency period (1790-1830), antique cabinet makers had refined much of the slavish Neo-classical detail of the preceding 20 years or so to produce something much simpler in line with early Biedermeier that was being produced in both Germany and Austria in post Napoleonic Europe.
An example of a modern equivalent of furniture which heralds directly from Biedermeier styling is the Chesterfield settee, which we are all familiar with. The arms of the Biedermeier sofa were carved in the shape of a swan’s neck, and well padded to give a classical scroll like appearance to the piece.
Beidermeier dining furniture is also very like English Regency. Tables tended to be round rather than rectilinear with a heavy central column, sideboards shaped like a Greek sarcophagus and dining chairs rather stiffer than the English Regency equivalent with the leg less curved than the typical sabre design. Regency chests of drawers were usually straight or bowed, the only ornament being diamond shaped ivory escutcheons around keyholes. Bedroom furniture tended to be made of mahogany where Regency cabinet makers were now using rosewood for drawing room furniture. Toilet mirrors were also taking on the rectilinear shape of the Regency period from the earlier heart or shield shape of Hepplewhite’s designs.
By the middle of the 19th century, Rococo was generally making a comeback across Europe and simple Regency lines gave way to much fussier designs. However the quality of both English Regency and Biedermeier furniture is unmistakeable and fine examples of dining room suites, wardrobes, sofas and antique cabinets in Lancashire are to be found through local dealers.
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