The excesses of Victorian furniture design prompted the Arts and Crafts movement to follow Gothic principles of good craftsmanship rather than the machine made revivalist styles that were flooding the Victorian furniture market at the time. William Morris was the main exponent of the Arts and Crafts furniture movement and under his commercial banner many of his colleagues were hand crafting pieces such as the buffet sideboard, tables and chairs which all happily exposed the hand made elements and the skill of the artisans who made them.
Others that moved along similar philosophical lines to the Arts and Crafts were people such as Charles Eastlake who said that there should be an ‘honesty’ in good furniture design where its real purpose should be evident. This directly opposed much furniture manufactured at the time, where flamboyance and showiness was key, rather than its function and craftsmanship. Eastlake’s ideas generally looked back towards the simple but skilful elements of Elizabethan and Jacobean oak furniture.
A number of these discerning thinkers combined under the Arts and Crafts banner to promote a return to the traditional skills of the artisan. Visually their furniture contrasted sharply with the showy Victorian designs which began to eclipse in popularity by the end of the 19th century. Manufacturers, like Ambrose Heal, took these simpler design ideas forward commercially where the one off pieces of the Arts and Crafts artisans were often out of general reach financially.
Arts and Crafts antique furniture can be found in certain outlets in Preston, Lancashire and throughout the country.
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