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While researching French antique furniture we happened upon the story of the first modern corporations dating back to the 14th century in France. Others had a reading-slope incorporated rising from the top and supported at the back with an adjustable stand, with a ledge at the bottom on which the book was placed. The ottomane not to be confused with the English 'ottoman' was a sopha the ends of which were usually rounded to form a semicircle en gondole.

General considerations

Met Office warns of 'risk to life' as 'mini Beast from Throughout the 18th century Paris furniture of good quality was usually veneered, whilst much provincial furniture was of solid wood. Delta Goodrem looks chic as she poses for a sultry selfie in sunglasses and a plaid blazer ahead of The Voice return Maya Jama 'looks for a new home amid relationship woes with boyfriend Stormzy' The passion for colour found an outlet in lacquer decoration in England as in other European countries. Ad Feature Insomnia62 is the biggest UK gaming festival of the year: Vitrines Antique French Glazed Cabinets. This influence, coupled with the existence of new materials and the time lag in transmitting styles and tastes from the home country, in some instances produced highly individual furniture.

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Krysten Ritter stands out in bright red jacket to promote second season of superhero show Jessica Jones Lady in red Hippie chic! Amy Adams splashes through puddles in heels while out with her husband in Beverly Hills Making a splash Is stress of the Kardashian family feud taking a toll? Bachelor star Cassandra Wood is pictured filming scenes for Home and Away Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bares his muscular chest in new shaving advert Gunman is on the run after heavily pregnant woman and another person are shot in seaside James Bulger's mother makes heartbreaking tribute to son on what would have been Father of Ellie Butler - who beat his daughter, six, to death and then lied to cover his tracks - threatens Corbyn, his daftest hour: Poor heating systems in houses, general prosperity, and a desire for comfort were the conditions that gave rise to a number of imaginatively varied types of upholstered armchairs in which the only wood visible is in the legs, with the back closing right up against the sitter and side wings affording protection from inevitable drafts.

The upholstered chair created a new effect that depended almost entirely upon the craftsmanship of the upholsterer. The upholstered chair or sofa has remained a specialty of the Anglo-Saxon world; club life in particular contributed to its popularity and resulted in heavily stuffed forms including that of the so-called chesterfield. By midth century, new materials such as foam rubber and various types of plastic composition had inspired independent methods that dispensed entirely with traditional upholstery techniques.

Upholstery was succeeded by molded plastic forms and by sacks filled with plastic balls that are able to conform to the changing positions of the body. Painted and plastic images, or ornamental decoration, on furniture are secondary processes compared with construction and design. Some of the best and most expressive furniture forms, such as the Greek klismos chair and the English Windsor chair, are quite independent of imagery or ornamentation. On the other hand, no period in the history of furniture is entirely devoid of these secondary processes.

All furniture decoration is normally concentrated where it will not be in the way; for example, on the legs, arms, and backs of chairs; on the ends and canopies of beds; on the legs and stretchers of tables; and on all vertical surfaces of cupboards and chests of drawers. The superfluous nature of furniture decoration is particularly pronounced in forms that express rank or prestige.

The thrones of kings and bishops, the seats of guild masters, beds of state, the writing desks of chief executives, and the like have all lent themselves to imagery and ornamentation; and as the functional aspect of the piece has declined, it has seemed that the amount of ornamentation has increased.

Purely functional milk stools and typewriting tables are devoid of ornamentation. This division can be noted with varying clarity throughout the history of furniture. At times the ornamentation itself has, in a sense, been functional. The decoration of the earliest examples of furniture from Mesopotamia and Egypt, for example, had a symbolic or magical function.

The legs of Sumerian stools are shaped like those of an ox, which was the guardian animal of the city of Ur. Egyptian furniture shows a much wider development of furniture legs based on animal models. Similar animal symbols are known from representations of Greek furniture. Sometimes the arms as well as the legs of Greek chairs had animal shapes—terminating, for example, in the head of a lion or a ram.

It is thought likely that ceremonial seats and thrones featured animal motifs partly as a magical expression of the transference of power. This ancient tradition lived on in European furniture; for example, in thrones, where griffons, lions, and eagles played a prominent part in the decoration. Even in the furniture of antiquity it is difficult to differentiate between the symbolic and the aesthetic in decorative features. It is clear, however, that the animal world has always been one of the primary sources of ornamental motifs in furniture.

Animal legs and heads are found, for example, as terminal decorations in the French Rococo chair and imitations thereof. The animal leg played a prominent part in English furniture of the 18th century and later passed into American furniture.

Richly carved English mahogany chairs sometimes also feature the heads of birds, lions, or dogs as terminal decorations on the arms. Although the majority of Chinese chairs and tables are supported by straight legs of rounded wood, Chinese thrones and seats for dignitaries have curved legs that, for some unknown reason, may be imitations of elephant trunks. Next to the animal world—and of more recent origin—architecture is the most important source of decorative motifs in furniture.

In the late Middle Ages, the perpendicular tracery of Gothic architecture was transferred through the craft of the wood-carver to the fronts of chests. Italian chests and walnut cupboards of the same period were modelled on the marble sarcophagi of Classical antiquity, which are entirely architectonic in form.

During the Renaissance and Baroque periods the column was introduced as a strikingly decorative frontal feature in the form of table legs and on cupboards. The fronts of very big, heavy cupboards particularly lent themselves to architectonic composition corresponding to the portals and gables of houses.

At about the same time, the ornamental wealth of the Renaissance broke through in rosettes, cupids, and fruits on panelling and frames. The coherence between interior and furniture was even more pronounced during the Rococo period and under Louis XVI , culminating temporarily in the furniture and rooms of the French Empire style. The 19th century often seems to have offered nothing more than a breathless repetition of this coherence between the ornamental design of furniture and the architecture of the interior—both revivals of the styles of the past.

A new style did not arise until the close of the century. French Art Nouveau furniture, with its gliding vegetable forms, must be seen in conjunction with the houses and rooms for which it was executed. The influence of architecture on furniture can also manifest itself in a lack of ornament.

There is a relationship, for example, between functionalistic architecture as it was first manifested in the s at the Bauhaus in Germany and steel furniture designed by the German architect Mies van der Rohe. Of all furniture forms, the chair may be the most important. While most other forms except the bed are intended to support objects, the chair supports the human form.

The term chair is used here in the widest sense, from stool to throne to derivative forms such as the bench and sofa, which may be regarded as extended or connected chairs and whose character i. The social history of the chair is as interesting as its history as an art and craft.

The chair is not merely a physical support and an aesthetic object; it is also an indicator of social rank. At the old royal courts there were social distinctions between sitting on a chair with arms, on a chair with a back but no arms, and having to make do with a stool. As a furniture form, the chair encompasses a wealth of variations.

In olden days there were chairs to be born in birth chairs , and in the 20th century there were chairs to die in the electric chair. There are chairs with one, two, three, and four legs, chairs with or without arms, and chairs with or without backs.

There are chairs that can be folded up, chairs on wheels, and chairs on runners. Modern living has developed special chairs for automobiles and aircraft. All of these chair forms have been evolved to conform to changing human needs. Because of its close association with man, the chair appears to its full advantage only when in use. Thus the various parts of a chair have been given names corresponding to the parts of the human body: Because the basic function of the chair is to support the body, its value is judged primarily on how well it fulfills this practical role.

In the construction of a chair, the designer is bound by certain static laws and principal measurements. Within these limits, however, the chair maker has great freedom.

The history of the chair covers a period of several thousand years. There are civilizations that have created distinctive chair forms, expressive of the highest endeavour in the spheres of technique and aesthetics. Two ancient Egyptian chair forms, both the result of careful design, are known from discoveries made in tombs.

One of these is a four-legged chair with a back, the other a folding stool. The classical Egyptian chair has four legs shaped like those of an animal, a curved seat, and a sloping back supported by vertical stretchers. In this way a strong triangular construction was obtained. There was apparently no marked difference between the construction of Egyptian thrones and chairs for ordinary citizens.

The main difference lies in the decorative ornamentation, in the choice of costly inlays. The Egyptian folding stool probably was developed as an easily portable seat for officers. As a camp stool the form persisted until much later times. But the stool also took on the character of a ceremonial seat, its mechanical function as a folding stool being forgotten. This can already be observed, from as early as —57 bce in two stools, executed in ebony with ivory inlay work and gold mounts, from the tomb of Tutankhamen.

They are in the form of folding stools but cannot be folded as the seats are of wood. The simple construction of the folding stool, consisting of two frames that turn on metal bolts and support a seat of leather or fabric fastened between them, reappears somewhat later in the Bronze Age folding chairs of Scandinavia and northern Germany. The typical Greek chair, the klismos , is known not from any ancient specimen still extant but from a wealth of pictorial material.

The best known is the klismos depicted on the Hegeso Stele at the Dipylon burial place outside Athens c. It is a chair with a backward-sloping, curved backboard and four curving legs, only two of which are shown.

These unusual legs were presumably executed in bent wood and were therefore subjected to great pressure from the weight of the sitter. The joints fastening the legs to the frame of the seat are therefore very strong and clearly indicated. The Romans adopted the Greek chair; a number of statues of seated Romans show examples of a heavier and apparently somewhat more crudely constructed klismos. Both types, the light and the heavy, were revived during the Classicist period. The klismos chair is found in French Empire furniture, in English Regency , and in special forms of considerable originality in Denmark and Sweden around The ancestry of the chair in China cannot be traced as far back as in Egypt and Greece.

Since the Tang dynasty — ce an unbroken series of drawings and paintings has been preserved showing the interiors and exteriors of Chinese houses and their furniture. Also preserved since the 16th century are a number of chairs of wood or lacquered wood that bear an astonishing resemblance to representations of older chairs.

As was the case in Egypt, there were two major chair forms in China: The four-legged chair is found both with and without arms but always with a square seat and straight stiles upright side supports to support the back.

In one form, however, the stiles are slightly curved above the arms so as to conform to the angle of the S-shaped back splat the central upright of a chairback. All three parts are mortised into the yoke-like top rail. While the design of the back splat exercised an influence on English chairs of the Queen Anne period, wooden members that only to a limited extent reinforce corner joints and are loose into the bargain represent a feature exclusive to Chinese chairs.

The four legs pass through the seat frame, which closes about the rounded staves. All members are round in section or have rounded edges—references perhaps to the bamboo tradition. The seat is uncomfortable and may have a plaited bottom. These chairs required the sitter to remain stiff and upright; for if too much pressure is exerted on the back, the chair has a tendency to topple over.

In patriarchal Chinese homes of this period armchairs presumably were reserved for the senior members of the family, for they were held in great esteem.

The Chinese folding stool is presumed to have travelled to China from the West. It does not differ so very much from the Egyptian or Scandinavian folding stools, but it has a variation in that the top rail is elegantly joined to the two legs of the stool by means of a curved member, which is often provided with metal mounts.

From a Western viewpoint the overall effect of both these furniture forms is stylized. The pieced-together appearance is a result of the fact that the individual members do not appear to have been joined together with either glue or screws, but have been mortised into one another and locked into position in the manner of a Chinese puzzle. The Golden Age of Spain during the 17th century also left its mark on the chair.

Paintings show a type of chair with a relatively crude wooden frame; a back and seat, nailed on, consisting of two layers of leather, with horsehair stuffing in between, stitched to produce a pattern of small pads.

The front board and a corresponding board at the back could be folded after loosening some small iron hooks. Thus the chair was an easily portable piece of furniture for travelling which, at the same time, had the dignity of a four-legged, high-backed armchair. A low, square, upholstered type of chair can be seen in engravings of interiors of affluent Dutch homes by Abraham Bosse , a French artist, and in paintings by the Dutch artists Johannes Vermeer and Gerard Terborch.

Although this kind of chair is also found in countries where Dutch styles of interior decoration and Dutch furniture won favour, it is not certain that the form actually originated in the Netherlands. Normally, the legs of the chair are smooth, round in section, and of slender dimensions; they are sometimes baluster-shaped vase-shaped or twisted.

The form asserts itself by virtue of its harmonious proportions and fine upholstery in gilt leather or fabric bordered with fringes. The French Rococo chair in its most mature form—that is, as developed in Paris around —spread over most of Europe and was imitated or copied into the midth century. The model owes its popularity to a combination of comfort and elegance.

The seat conforms to the human body and permits a relaxed sitting position. The back is bow-shaped, the legs curved. Normally the seat and back are upholstered, and there are small upholstered pads on the armrests. Smooth transitions achieved between seat frame, legs, and back disguise all the joints, which are solidly constructed on craftsmanlike principles despite the absence of stretchers between the legs.

French Rococo chairs and imitations thereof employ wood of fairly thick dimensions; but all members are deeply molded, all superfluous wood has been cut away, and finer examples may be further embellished with very delicate and decorative carving.

The wood may be varnished, stained, painted, or gilded. Silk damask or tapestry is used for the upholstery on the seat, back, and armrests; canework is sometimes used in place of upholstery. English chairs of the 18th century are more varied in design than the French.

The French taste for stylistic uniformity, which spread from the most distinguished circles in Paris and Versailles over most of France and won favour in several parts of the Continent, had no parallel in England.

Prior to , the most commonly used wood was walnut ; thereafter, and for the rest of the century, it was mahogany. Walnut, though beautiful in hue, was soft and therefore less suited to wood carving than to rounded, curving forms. Outer surfaces, such as the back and seat frame, were usually veneered. During the walnut period, highly overstuffed armchairs, covered with leather or embroidered material, were also developed.

The best upholstery of this period is precisely and firmly modelled and accentuated by braiding or tacks. When imports of mahogany became common, no specifically new chair designs appeared, but the character of the woodwork changed. Mahogany, having a firmer, closer grain, could be cut thinner, which meant that individual parts of the chair could be more slender in shape.

Mahogany also lent itself better to carving than walnut. Carving was concentrated more on the arms and back than on the legs, which as a rule were straight and smooth with chamfered bevelled edges and molding. There was a wealth of variety in chairback designs, featuring elegant, pierced, vase-shaped splats or two upright posts connected by horizontal slats ladderback.

Alongside the French Rococo chair and the best English chairs in walnut and mahogany, the stick-back chair was relatively unaffected by the stylistic changes of the day. Originally a medieval form—known, for example, from paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and still found in the churches and inns of southern Europe—the stick-back chair in all of its variations consists basically of a solid, saddle-shaped seat into which the legs, back staves, and possibly the armrests are directly mortised.

This typically peasant form underwent a renewal and a process of refinement in England and America during the 18th century. Under the name Windsor chair a term that seems to have been used for the first time in or Philadelphia chair, it became well known and was widely distributed throughout the world.

During the Neoclassical period, no basic changes took place in chair forms, but legs became straight and dimensions lighter. Backs in the shape of Classical vases replaced the fanciful outlines of the Rococo period. Around , freely executed imitations of Greek and Roman chairs of the klismos type, with curved legs and backrest, appeared.

French chairs of the Empire period, executed in dark mahogany and embellished with ornate bronze mounts, created a ponderous effect. In cheaper versions of inferior workmanship, bourgeois chairs of the 19th century carried on the traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The only real innovations were the bentwood wood that has been bent and shaped chairs in beech that became popular all over the world and were still made in the 20th century.

These new furniture styles did not exercise wide, let alone decisive, influence. After World War I , the Bauhaus school in Germany became a creative centre for revolutionary thinking, resulting, for example, in tubular steel chairs designed by the architects Marcel Breuer , Ludwig Mies van der Rohe , and others.

During World War II, the aircraft industry accelerated the development of laminated wood and molded plastic furniture. Rapid technical developments, in conjunction with an ever-increasing interest in human-factors engineering , or ergonomics , suggest that completely new chair forms will probably be evolved in the future. In general, tables can be divided into fixed and mechanical types. The fixed table, consisting of a square or round top supported by one or more legs, is the least complicated from the viewpoint of craftsmanship.

It is a form that requires wood of thick dimensions in order to make the joints by which the top is fastened to the legs strong enough to resist lateral pressure. Old Spanish or Italian tables are often constructed with sloping stretchers to counteract this pressure.

The simplest way to make a table steady without exaggerating the dimensions of the individual parts is to fasten the legs to an underframe. Fixed tabletops can also make do with a single leg; for example, the so-called pedestal table, terminating in a tripod or quadripod.

Pedestal tables topple over easily, however, unless both top and pedestal are particularly heavy. Three-legged tables with a fixed top provide a more reliable support than a single-legged type but are unstable when subjected to uneven pressure from above. The term mechanical refers to all tables whose tops can be enlarged or reduced according to need. Such tables may require pivotable or collapsible legs to augment the strength of the top.

A familiar solution to the extension of a tabletop is the so-called Dutch system, known since the 17th century from Dutch engravings and paintings, in which the extension leaves, when pulled, slide out on sloping runners. When the leaves have been fully extended, the top is lifted and then dropped into place. The table height remains the same.

The construction demands great accuracy and skill on the part of the craftsman. There are also more complicated forms of extension tables with runners enabling the legs as well as the leaves to be drawn out; extra leaves can then be inserted. Tables with flaps also are constructed to take up less space when folded away and can be variously made, either with flaps that are supported by brackets that swing out on hinges or on so-called gate legs.

During the 18th century, England was a leader in the design of ingenious folding tables, especially card tables. In the gateleg card table, the top can be folded so as to occupy half the space, and when opened is supported by a leg that swings out like a gate. In another system, the square underframe can be extended to form a rectangular top, the two sides being divided by hinges. On modern card tables, all four legs can be folded up within the frame surrounding the top; when not in use, the tables can therefore be stored easily.

Round stone tables on low pedestal legs are known in Egypt from the time of the pyramids c. Egyptian limestone reliefs also show tables of normal height. Dating from the later dynasties , crude wooden tables with architectonic molding have been preserved.

No tables have survived from ancient Greece. From the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum , however, there are examples of monumental table supports or side members made of marble decorated with relief work and metal tables, many of them of the folding type. All wooden furniture has been lost, however. Several wooden-topped communion tables dating from the early Middle Ages still stand in churches, hidden by altar cloths or built into boxes.

Usually, such tables rest either on solid masonry or on a stone socle a projecting member beneath the base of a superstructure , but they are sometimes elegantly supported by several columns.

Generally, communion tables are made of stone, and since one stands before them, they are higher than the usual table. Examples of wooden tables preserved from the late Middle Ages are, as a rule, long narrow tops fastened to side members.

Tables of the Renaissance and Baroque periods are notable for their constructive and aesthetic design. Their thick and heavy tops rest on an underframe; the legs are baluster-shaped or turned, with deeply carved bulbous decoration. In the 17th century and later, table forms were widely differentiated and made for a great variety of purposes—i.

From the Ming dynasty and the 18th century, several interesting Chinese fixed-top table forms have been preserved, in which the constructive elements are in some cases emphasized and in others deliberately disguised.

Chinese tables may be completely covered with lacquer and gilt ornamentation, but sometimes the wood is left in its natural colour. As a furniture form, the bed is as old as the chair. In principle the construction of the bed is extraordinarily simple: A considerable number of bed forms cannot be classed as furniture at all. Alcoves and bunks in ships, railway carriages, and airplanes belong more to the sphere of building trade joinery than to cabinetmaking.

That a number of beautiful and original bed forms of fine artistic execution have been created since antiquity is attributable to the fact that the bed gives the furniture designer rich possibilities in terms of framing and presentation, particularly in conjunction with textiles. Apart from the actual bedclothes, which historically are of greater importance than the actual platform and the surrounding framework, imaginative experiments combining the practical and the impressive—in four-poster beds and tentlike canopies, for example—have been made for centuries.

An Egyptian bier dating from the 1st dynasty c. These paws face in the same direction—as if they were walking with the dead person. This is characteristic of all Egyptian beds. Made of cedarwood , the light framework is higher at the head than at the foot; and whereas the foot is always terminated by a footboard, there is no board at the head. The beds were so constructed because the Egyptians when sleeping or resting used a stool-like support for the head.

Essential to the Egyptian bed, countless examples of this piece of equipment—made usually of wood but sometimes of ivory and faience—have been found in Egyptian tombs. The actual framework of the bed was often covered with plaited leather thongs. In China, a bed in the form of a complete little house, with an anteroom in the form of a veranda , was placed in the middle of the room.

Before central heating and a knowledge of hygiene became common, the closed bed was the generally accepted form in cold climates. The most frequently encountered form of bed in European civilization, however, was the four-poster. Throughout the Middle Ages and later, the four-poster was developed in a variety of forms.

Already during the Middle Ages, beds were designed for clearly ceremonial effect. The four posts supported an expanse of cloth that extended from the head like a canopy, just as the most distinguished row of choir stalls in a church was crowned by a baldachin an ornamental structure resembling a canopy. Miniatures in illuminated manuscripts of the same period show tentlike beds entirely closed by drapery and curtains. In the time of the absolute monarchies in the 17th and 18th centuries, pompous four-posters were developed in which the surrounding textile drapery completely concealed the wooden construction of the bed, thereby achieving a synthesis of practical and ceremonial considerations.

Every palace or mansion had a chamber of state among its official reception rooms. Where his royal highness spent the night was his own concern, but his awakening was an act of state, in the conduct of which princes of the blood, dukes, and distinguished courtiers all had their respective duties: A large number of 17th- and 18th-century four-poster beds are still preserved in palaces, country houses, and museums; and most of them have a clearly dramatic, almost theatrical effect.

The four-poster beds of the Baroque and Rococo periods, moreover, reflect great artistic refinement, especially in the rare instances in which they can still be seen in their original interiors complete with their entire textile adornment. Such beds of state are typical of continental Europe. In England and America, particularly toward the end of the 18th century, greater interest was taken in showing off the bedposts and the upper framework connecting them.

Many English four-posters have slender, finely carved mahogany posts, whereas on the Continent the corresponding parts may be entirely covered with the same silken material as that used for the curtains, canopy, and bedspread.

During the Empire period in France an entirely new form of bed was developed and won favour throughout most of Europe. The design was inspired by the Roman couch as known from reliefs and from excavations in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The frame was very high, and the bed ends consisted of volutes spiral or scroll-shaped forms of equal height. The bed was crowned by a tentlike superstructure, and the martial aspect was further emphasized by the use of spears to support the draperies and curtains; the whole bedroom, in fact, might well be draped like a tent. During a campaign, however, collapsible iron camp beds were more practical.

Napoleon owned several and died in one on St. As a furniture form, the iron bed was a neutral framework built to support bedclothes and equipped with stanchions upright supports for curtains; it was light, transportable, and spartan. Among plantation owners in the West Indies and the southern United States, a type of four-poster popular at the beginning of the 19th century was dominated by wood, rather than textile hangings. The posts supported very light, roughly made wooden frames, to which thin, white mosquito netting was fastened to protect the sleeper.

The monumental and dignified effect was obtained by the quality of the woodwork. Of thick dimensions, the wood is solid mahogany polished to a high gloss. The four bedposts are not necessarily identical at the head and foot of the bed, but all have bulbous and turned sections, exaggerated almost to the point of crudeness. The headboards and footboards are imaginatively designed with voluted gables triangular decoration and galleries ornamental railings supported on pillars.

Besides the practical function of these West Indian beds, they also served to indicate the importance of their owner; like the royal four-poster of the days of absolute monarchy , they clearly showed the difference between master and slave.

In general, development has been concentrated on improving the quality of bedclothes and increasing the amount of comfort by attention to box springs, mattresses, eiderdowns, and pillows. The actual woodwork of the bed is usually restricted to joined veneered sections of laminated board, canework sometimes being used for the headboards and footboards.

The principal constructional features of early medieval chests lasted until the Renaissance. The so-called Oseberg ship , dating from the Viking era 9th century and discovered in in Vestfold, Norway, included among the furniture on board a chest made of oak planks secured by iron bands.

The planks are not mortised together, and the end sections stand vertical, thereby forming feet, wider at the bottom than above. The lid is formed by a single curved oak plank that has been roughhewn into shape. The bottom of the chest rests in a groove cut into the end sections. The wooden construction, a primitive form of carpentry, is held together by broad iron bands, the nails are tin-plated.

In this Oseberg chest, the iron mounts essential to the construction constitute the decorative element as well. Medieval chests are developments of the same principle: A number of painted, parchment-covered Florentine chests dating from the middle of the 15th century have been preserved. These were used as trunks by young girls on their way to enter a convent and later stood in their cells as pieces of storage furniture for clothes and other personal belongings.

Cassoni were stationary pieces of palace furniture. Specifically designed for travelling, however, were Javanese camphorwood chests that made the long voyage round the Cape of Good Hope full of stuffs and spices and eventually came to rest in an English manor house or in a gabled Dutch mansion in Amsterdam.

The plank construction with metal mounts is of primitive craftsmanship. The large, smooth expanses of reddish-brown wood, with their elaborate openwork brass mounts and big, chased bolt heads to take the brunt of rough handling, have a kind of sophisticated crudeness about them.

On later camphorwood chests the brass mounts are sunk flush with the surface of the wood, just as on portable writing desks and toilet cases of the French Empire period. Veneered wood was not suitable for chests intended for travel purposes, but it was possible to cover the entire chest with leather fastened with metal nails, often forming a pattern.

Several beautiful, leather-covered chests made in Italy and Spain in the 17th century are known, and the form persisted in the large wardrobe trunks of succeeding centuries. When furniture-making techniques demanding the skill of the cabinetmaker evolved during the Renaissance, frames, panels, and carving appeared on chests. In southern Europe, walnut lent itself admirably to carving; in northern Europe, oak.

While the Italians were inspired by the molding and decorative plant ornamentation of the stone sarcophagi of ancient Rome, in northern Europe late medieval wood carving traditions were continued. As a rule the carved woodwork was picked out decorated with paint and gilded. In the 18th century, the chest was largely supplanted for storage purposes by the chest of drawers and the commode low chest of drawers , but it never entirely disappeared.

Particularly in the big country houses of England and America, chests of mahogany or walnut were used for a long time, often having drawers and finely fashioned brass mounts that revealed Chinese influence.

Strictly speaking, the cupboard is a derivative form of the chest. Early Renaissance cupboards resembled two chests placed one on top of the other, but they were opened from the front by means of doors. It literally invited an architectonic composition: This development can be traced from the close of the Middle Ages in a large number of southern German and Tirolean cupboards bearing late Gothic perpendicular tracery and smooth surfaces veneered with ashwood. Very large cupboards took on their most striking form, however, during the Renaissance, in 17th century in the Netherlands and northern Germany.

In molding and composition, they have much in common with architectural facades, but their picturesque and textural effects are the result of refined craftsmanship. The use of veneer was common on Continental cupboards. A carcass of wood was given a veneer of fine walnut; socle, frames, columns, and cornice were decorated with veneered black ebony.

The doors were furnished with strong locks, and the keyhole was concealed behind a sliding middle column. The cornice was often decoratively crowned with a set of Dutch faience or Chinese porcelain vases.

These heavy cupboards were made to appear lighter by placing them on big, turned ball feet. In marked contrast to the European Baroque cupboards, Chinese cupboards of the same period were simple, smooth-surfaced, and boxlike. Their construction was based on a simple system of uprights and frames, and as a rule they were made in pairs.

If painted, a large decorative painting was spread across the entire surface, including the doors. Inside, Chinese cupboards are finished with great care and painted in a different colour from the outside. The mounts are of various white and yellow metal alloys, smooth, either round or square; and the locks are secured with prismatically designed padlocks.

Japanese and Siamese cupboards, apart from certain independent features, follow the old Chinese traditions. The clothes cupboard of the 19th and 20th centuries, an indispensable piece of bedroom furniture wherever there were no built-in cupboards, was based on traditional features of the 18th-century English clothespress but equipped to meet the changing fashions of modern times. Bookcases or bookshelves are a less interesting form of storage furniture from the viewpoint of furniture history.

Perhaps the most significant innovation appeared in 18th-century England in the bookcase with adjustable shelves and a closed-off lower section for folio files. The shelves were protected by glass doors consisting of an ingenious trelliswork of carved wood. Bookcases and shelves become interesting only when they form part of specially designed library interiors and when several shelves full of books create an intimate , compact whole. Apart from the kinds of storage furniture already mentioned, there are numerous combination forms.

An ordinary table can be used as a writing desk , and the only differences between the typical French Rococo writing desk of the 18th century and other tables are the drawers in the underframe and the leather-covered top.

In England a special type of writing desk was developed which, besides drawers in the underframe, has a side cupboard fitted with additional drawers and, occasionally, sliding trays. Some have a false drawer front that can be pulled out to form a writing surface.

Imsges: dating french furniture

dating french furniture

Small bronze tripods and stands were also items of Roman furniture. These have now, all too often, been parted from one another, as have the two parts of the English corner-cupboard, although one sees the lower part fitted out with a marble top as a complete piece of furniture. All furniture decoration is normally concentrated where it will not be in the way; for example, on the legs, arms, and backs of chairs; on the ends and canopies of beds; on the legs and stretchers of tables; and on all vertical surfaces of cupboards and chests of drawers.

dating french furniture

Framed screens were often covered with pieces of tapestry, with other woven materials, or with gilt leather. During the following years several similar works were published by such craftsmen and designers as William Ince and Thomas Mayhew, Thomas Johnson , and Robert Manwaring.

dating french furniture

The passion for colour found an outlet in lacquer decoration in England as in other European countries. Roentgen's furniture was made in Germany, at Neuwied in the Rhineland, and he enjoyed the patronage of Catherine the Great. To visit our online tribute to Eugene A. The pampered, petulant, self-pitying Prince: In rather cold churches, dahing as in poorly heated homes, loosely dating french furniture textile wall coverings were of the greatest importance.