Whenever we look at a piece of English furniture that has been lacquered, is of geometric latticework construction or in fact any piece of antique furniture from the late 17th century onwards that is Chinese in its design, we will know that much was copied from originals that were being imported to the English market. The term used in the trade for English antique furniture and other artefacts made in the Chinese styles is Chinoiserie.
To copy early Chinese furniture was to construct solid well made pieces. Much Chinese furniture was generally made of rosewood which the Chinese called ‘chicken-wing-wood’. Generally these Chinese pieces were made by expert joiners rather than cabinet makers who used mortise and tenon joints, dovetailing and a bit of glue. One reason for constructing furniture in this way meant that it would allow for changes in temperature when exported and that pieces could be taken apart for shipping, so the original flat pack furniture. These pieces were also made without lathes which gave them their handmade quality.
Thomas Chippendale was extremely fond of Chinoiserie design and designed now popular antique dining chairs and other pieces to emulate Chinese furniture. His latticework and trelliswork chair backs with oriental motifs sometimes accentuated with a pagoda-roof cresting rail, became part of his hallmark designs in the mid 18th century.
Period and revival antique chairs, desks and antique dining tables in the Chinoiserie style can be found through antique furniture dealerships in Preston, Lancaster, Cumbria and other parts of the UK.
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