Both rococo and neo-classical styling flourished with the use of mahogany. Mahogany is a very dense wood which allows for highly sophisticated cabinetry techniques. It was well suited therefore to the intricately carved organic and flowing forms of the rococo and features such as the cabriole leg became ever more elaborate during this period.
However, rococo styling only stayed popular in England for around ten years during the middle of the 18th century and was superseded by the much straighter, lighter and more architectural forms of neo-classicism. Mahogany again remained as the favoured wood for antique cabinet makers during this period and was well able to cope with the light tapering legs and plain flat surfaces influenced by classical antiquity, and its rich red patinas were able to be shown off to its best effect.
It was the focus on flat surfaces and the quality of the wood that prompted cabinet makers to search for ever finer figuration on mahogany to match grains and create fabulous veneering effects. Marquetry furniture decoration was also becoming very popular on this much plainer furniture and understated fans and swags were inlaid into many pieces.
New pieces of antique furniture appearing during this latter part of the 18th century were the sideboard and dining table. Again, the dining table had a large flat surface which showcased figuration at its best and all furniture had the thin tapering neo-classical leg which showed the strength and versatility of mahogany to encompass any design.
When searching for 18th century antique marquetry furniture in Lancashire or Cumbria, local antique dealers will be able to show you some very fine pieces.
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