Many purists throw their hands up in horror at the mishmash of styles and tastes in furniture that seemed to flow through the Victorian era. Certainly whilst the Crystal Palace was in existence before it was destroyed by fire, numerous exhibitions put on show vast ranges of inventions, art, furniture and manufactured goods originating from Britain and across its empire. It was therefore understandable that most Victorians felt they were living in a world of infinite choice and basically could have whatever they wanted.
Despite the world influence of Victorian Britain however, certain Victorian designers always felt its culture to be second rate when compared to French style and elegance. Although Britain steamed ahead commercially, it was always Paris and not London that was seen as the originator of style.
Critics pointed towards Victorians general predilections towards ostentation where display often overcame discernment. During the middle of the 19th century, decoration in the form of veneering, gilding, embossing and chasing all added to the showiness of Victorian furniture. Advances in manufacture also meant that designs could be plundered at will and produced quickly to satisfy a growing domestic market where the rising middle classes wanted very much to display their wealth.
Despite purist disdain of Victorian antique furniture, we are left with a wealth of designs and styles and much of it remains in good shape and very useable, such as Victorian dining chairs and tables that remain highly popular. Movements like the Arts & Crafts furniture attempted to return Victorian taste towards simpler designed hand crafted pieces which also have their own particular following today.
Fine examples of Victorian antique furniture and Arts & Crafts furniture can be found in London and also other antique dealerships in areas such as Lancashire or Cumbria.
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