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its Rococo curviness and the cabriole leg, which had been popular since the reign of Queen Anne in Britain, was now superseded by something much slimmer and finer.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 wreaths were replacing the naturalistic Rococo flowers and it was the French who were now seeking to copy English simpler mahogany styling and veneering.
Thomas Sheraton is perhaps one of the most famous names associated with Neo-classical antique dining furniture in Britain. His chair designs particularly had a rectilinear rather than rounded shape, with the now fluted or sabre rather than the cabriole leg. Also his sideboards by 1800 had become a staple piece in most wealthy dining rooms. Through much plainer styling, the focus instead of heavy carving and elaborate ornamentation now fell on the flatness of surfaces, the fine straight lines of the cabinetry and the quality of veneers.
Good examples of period and revival Neo-classical antique chairs in Preston can be found through local antiques dealers.
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