13 Apr 2021
September 11, 2009 - Filed under: Antique Desks,History of Antiques — David

The term ‘Ottoman’ raises the bar of the humble antique chest to something far more exotic as well as practical.

The Ottoman originally, as its name suggests, came from the Ottoman Empire. The Empire lasted from 1299 to 1922 when it was superseded by the Republic of Turkey. The designs of Ottomans in Europe were developed from these rich upholstered benches from the East and became a seat as well as a storage facility. The chest was made popular in Britain by George Smith, cabinet maker and upholsterer to the Prince of Wales, and was included in his design catalogue Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration published in 1804.

As with styles of furniture generally, the Ottoman, despite its exotic origins, also mirrored the fashion of the day. Regency examples were often upholstered in striped cottons or silks, whereas Victorian examples would often follow Gothic styles with intricate needlework friezes centred or sandwiched on the lid.

Although the Ottoman could be very fine, often the carcass was rudimentary as it was never seen. However, bow fronted or curved sided Ottomans were obviously cabinet makers’ pieces. Others were sprung and deep buttoned with layers of horse hair and padding, and could be positioned along a wall in place of the day bed or settee, and provide the added advantage of storage.

The Ottoman remains popular today as it serves as both a seat and chest and fits effortlessly into modern smaller houses and apartments.

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