By the 1840s, taste for highly regimented classic architectural lines was disappearing in favour of something much more eclectic and exotic.
The building of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton as an Indian Palace was an example of an increasing fascination with the Far East.
The mid 19th century Rococo revival with its lavish floral ornamentation was now being used in furniture design by firms like Gillows of Lancaster and London. Post revolutionary France also meant that there was a wealth of period French Rococo furniture in Britain for furniture manufacturers to copy and they were now able to produce elegant although not historically accurate recreations of Rococo furniture for the growing middle class market. Much furniture of this period today regarded as ‘typically Victorian’ bear the naturalistic styling such as balloon backs and cabriole legs reminiscent of period Rococo.
Through mass production, Rococo styling in furniture became more generally available and the use of cheaper materials such as papier mâché created even more elaborate facsimiles. However, the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace was an attempt to find an essential Victorian style. Every conceivable style was on offer at the exhibition from the Italianate to the Renaissance, from Louis XIV to Gothic and Japanese. At this point, styling generally began to broaden away from purely Rococo to something far more eclectic that reflected all periods of history and growing British presence across the world.
The advent of the Arts and Crafts movement and the influence of William Morris later in the 19th century attempted to temper this full blown romantic revival through producing well crafted hand made furniture and textiles. His aim was to celebrate the skill of the artisan and to denigrate the now all powerful machine of mass production.
For advice on Victorian antique furniture styles and Arts and Crafts furniture , Lancashire has a host of expert antique dealers that can help.
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