The move from Rococo into the Neo-classical period meant that mahogany was sharing the limelight with other woods such as satinwood, which were being imported from the West and East Indies from the 1760s onwards.
As the name suggests, veneers of satinwood gave an impression of gold coloured satin to the surface of pieces of furniture. To complement the effect of satinwood, artists like Angelica Kaufmann were employed by Neo-classical designer decorators like Robert Adam to paint mythological scenes on oval panels which were surrounded by these satinwood veneers.
There was also a fashion during this period for pieces to be completely painted, and then cheaper woods such as beech were used instead of satinwood. Beech was a close grained wood and ideal for making strong legs and seats, however, it was also prone to woodworm which has resulted in many period chairs having worm pitted seat rails. Worm generally did not attack mahogany, although it did attack satinwood which also tended to split if the cabinet maker was not careful.
The use of mahogany and satinwood could be said to be divided by gender. The prettier lighter satinwood was reserved for women’s use in the drawing room, and the red more earthy tones of mahogany similar to that of red wine, were reserved for male use in the dining room. Designers too were similarly divided where Adam and Sheraton were veering more towards lighter more feminine furniture made in satinwood, and Hepplewhite was making heavier but still elegant pieces in mahogany.
When looking for period and revival Neo-classical mahogany and satinwood antique cabinets in Cumbria or surrounding areas, a reputable antique dealer can show you a good selection of pieces.
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