From hidden messages in Pre-Raphaelite paintings to trompe l’oeil and the obscure narrative device, Victorians were infatuated with intrigue and history that would become intertwined into their everyday lives.
Iconic panels could be introduced into handmade wood panelled corner cabinets and huge medieval styled desks and sideboards. The finest and most highly prized examples contained panels with paintings by Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Rossetti, Madox Brown, Morris and Burne-Jones to recreate medieval splendours. The handcraftsmanship of these pieces also celebrated the return of the artisan, which was the raison d’être of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
A general Victorian predilection towards the past was represented very much within furniture design of the time. The Victorian era was one of many revivals of previous styles, whether a hundred years before to Rococo and Regency, or to many hundreds of years before to the time of the Renaissance and Gothic. Ironically, although the Arts and Crafts Movement were opposed to the mass manufacture of many revival pieces, they too were also caught up in the historicism of the Victorian period and its general love of the past. For some Victorians it was the spiritual form of the Gothic or the honest joinery of the medieval, whereas for others it was the imbued power of the ancient architecture of Greece and Rome. Whatever these retrospective influences, meanings were always drawn from their daily usage.
The often hidden meanings within Arts and Crafts and Victorian antique furniture and Victoriana’s love of the hidden narrative plus good examples of these interesting pieces can all be sourced through antiques dealers in Preston, Lancashire, Cumbria and nationwide.
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