It was during the relatively short reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) that some of the most beautiful and most valued English antique furniture was made. Almost without exception during this period, these finely crafted pieces of cabinet furniture were made from walnut – which over time has produced one of the most beautiful and recognisable patinas. Ironically, it was during her reign that walnut as a material began to be eclipsed by imported mahogany. Overuse as well as heavy frosts in 1709 and a French embargo on exports of walnut put paid to the ready supplies of this superior wood.
One of the most recognisable pieces of Queen Anne antique furniture is the walnut dining chair. These pieces are solidly built with broad seats and high backs, often with vase shaped splats encased within a cresting rail. One of the most iconic features of this period is the cabriole leg which often ends in claw and ball feet.
Sometimes there were rich shell carvings at the knees which matched the cresting rail at the top of the splat. Although predominantly made of walnut, there were less ornate versions of these antique dining chairs made in beech, oak and other fruitwoods. The seat was often upholstered with needlepoint or tapestry work which creates added interest to period pieces and seats could be ‘drop in’ or stuff-over in construction. The Queen Anne dining chair remains as the template for good design and cabinetry to the present day.
Some period and revivals of these iconic pieces of early English antique furniture can be found through antique dealerships in Lancashire.
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