The style of the Rococo, and the Neo-classical that replaced, it couldn’t have been more different. The curving and flowing Rococo style, inherited from Louis XV of France, only appeared briefly during the middle of the 18th century in Britain and was superseded by the much simpler lines of the Neo-classical. One of its exponents was Robert Adam, the famous architect/decorator who was inspired by the classical revivals that were taking place in Italy prompted by numerous artefacts being unearthed through excavations in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Rome.
Despite the simpler lines of the Neo-classical, they would not be regarded as severe where Adam’s designed cabinetry was still elaborately decorated with low relief marquetry and parquetry motifs, compared to the heavily carved designs of the Rococo. The whole ethos of the Neo-classical was lightness and elegance rather than flamboyance – which was characterised in the square tapering and often fluted legs which replaced the much curvier cabriole leg of the earlier Queen Anne and Rococo periods.
During the Neo-classical period the use of marquetry decoration was at its height and much exotic wood was imported to satisfy the complex veneering that was being applied to recreate the Ancient Roman urns, swags and fans being unearthed in Italy at the time. New pieces of furniture were also emerging such as the sideboard and dining table. The sideboard became one of the stalwarts of Regency dining later in the century, as did the extending dining table which could be placed at the side of the room when not in use. Chairs were still solidly made but legs were tapered and splats took on the Neo-classical motifs of the period.
Period and revival Neo-classical antique sideboards, tables and chairs can be sourced through dealerships in Preston in Lancashire.
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