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Early Georgian

24 Mar

The Early Georgian period (1714-1750) saw a revival of Palladianism. The excesses of the Baroque had created a distaste for over-decoration and Andrea Palladio’s Renaissance villas were admired as reflecting the pure lines of Classical architecture. There was a political element to this change of taste. Baroque was associated with the Counter-Reformation. The Hanoverians were a firmly Protestant dynasty. Lord Burlington, who designed the fine villa above for himself at Chiswick, was a leader of the Palladian Movement.

Georgian buildings are characterised by their symmetry and regularity of detail. Great houses and public buildings were fronted with massive pediments and colonnades inspired by ancient Greek and Roman temples.

Chiswick House

Royal Fort House, Bristol

Mereworth Castle

The interiors of the great country and town houses built in Britain in the eighteenth century were splendid creations, increasingly extravagant as fashions changed and aristocratic home owners attempted to outdo one another.

For much of the early Georgian period of English furniture history the styles that had come to the fore in the Queen Anne period and before continued in popularity and underwent modifications of their own.

The most important change that occurred in the reigns of the George I and George II was the replacement of walnut by mahogany. Mahogany rapidly won favour among cabinet makers due to it being very strong, long lasting and having close grained wood well suited to experimentation. Mahogany was less prone to infestation, didn’t scratch, crack, or warp, didn’t need varnishing, and its dark reddish colour suited the design temperament of the early Hanoverian age.


English Renaissance

23 Mar

From the early 16th century until well into the 17th, England felt the grips of a revolution that would change the face of the country forever. This revolution had nothing to do with wars or land or expansion; unless you consider the expansion of the minds of the people all over Britain. It was back during the 14th century in the country of Italy in which the renaissance first started and slowly spread across the entire European continent. Known as the pan-European Renaissance, by the 16th century when the ruler of England was Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare was the talked about name anywhere you went, the English Renaissance began.

The Banqueting House, Whitehall, London

This is part of the original oak staircase (1590’s) leading up to the top of the north east tower at Hardwick. The water pump is C20th ;-). Hardwick Hall is in Derbyshire UK and is open to the public – it is a unique example of English Renaissance architecture by the architect Robert Smythson.

Picture of elaborately carved late 16th century English joined chair. Such chairs, made of oak, are descendants of the tudor era Wainscot chairs only now without the boxed storage area beneath the seat.


Actually originating in the tudor period x-frame folding chairs become commonly seen in the Elizabethan age in the houses of the rich, especially among royalty. It uses textile coverings, often velvet, with the seat being a cradle of webbing which takes a squab cushion. X frame chairs usually came with a matching footstool.

Taking its name from the Abbot of Glastonbury, who died in 1539, glastonbury chairs have remained relatively popular chairs in England through history with many reproductions being made in the nineteenth century. This old antique example has obviously elbowed arms and a folding framework.

An Elizabethan era three legged turned chair. Turning was accomplished on a pole lathe driven by pulling on a length of cord attached to a pole. The post was attached to a spindle, which was turned by the cord. It was shaped and patterned by a gouge, or cutting tool, held against the post as it turned.

French Renaissance

23 Mar

The French Renaissance covers various stages such as the French invasion of Italy in 1494 when Charles VIII was the king. It also covers the death of Henry IV, 1610. Many artistic, literary and technological developments that can be traced back to Italian Renaissance arrived in France. These developments from Italian Renaissance arrived in France from Burgundy Court and the Papal Court in Avignon.

The French Renaissance architecture of the Chambord Palace is stunning.  The palace is intricately designed with many steeples, balconies, spiral staircases and chimneys.

Chateau de Chenonceau


The French Renaissance of furniture can be divided into two stages. First was a period of transition and adaptation; during the reign of Louis XII and the first part of the reign of Francis I, the pieces were basically Gothic in form, and Gothic ornament was mixed with the cupids, medallion heads, and grotesque decorations of the incoming Renaissance style.

Caquetoire Chairs (above and below)


During the second phase, from the end of the reign of Francis I, the new style displaced the Gothic. The more exuberant arabesque shapes of Renaissance decoration, however, gave way to increasingly architectural design, and oak was almost entirely superseded by walnut.


André-Charles Boulle Furniture

French Renaissance Manuscript Illumination of a Tournament

Limbourg Brothers


Italian Renaissance….the Rebirth

23 Mar

The Italian Renaissance followed on the heels of the Middle Ages, and was spawned by the birth of the philosophy of humanism, which emphasized the importance of individual achievement in a wide range of fields. The early humanists, such as writer Francesco Petrarch, studied the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans for inspiration and ideology, mixing the philosophies of Plato and other ancient thinkers with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Under the influence of the humanists, literature and the arts climbed to new levels of importance.

Florence, considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, grew powerful as a wool-trading post, and remained powerful throughout the Renaissance due to the leadership of the Medici family, who maintained the city’s financial strength and were intelligent and generous patrons of the arts.

St. Peter’s of Rome

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Perhaps the most prominent feature of the Renaissance was the furthering of the arts, and the advancement of new techniques and styles. During the early Renaissance, painters such as Giotto, and sculptors such as Ghiberti experimented with techniques to better portray perspective. Their methods were rapidly perfected and built upon by other artists of the early Renaissance such as Botticelli and Donatello. However, the apex of artistic talent and production came later, during what is known as the High Renaissance, in the form of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michaelangelo, who remain the best known artists of the Renaissance. The Renaissance also saw the invention of printing in Europe and the rise of literature as an important aspect in everyday life. The Italian writers Boccaccio, Pico, and Niccolo Machiavelli were able to distribute their works much more easily and cheaply because of the rise of the printed book.

Domenico Ghirlandaio
Piero de Medici


18 Mar

Rococo, also known as “Late Baroque”. Rococo began around 18th century style. The style developed as Baroque artists began to let go of the symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful. Rococo rooms were designed as total works of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestries that complement architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings.

The had its beginnings in the decorative arts and interiors. Rococo parallels with the reign of Louis XV. The delicacy and playfulness of Rococo styles is often said to be perfectly in sync with the excesses of Louis XV‘s reign! Rococo is mainly thought of as “French”. Great Britain did not really take on the designs of Rococo as much as other surrounding areas.

Metalwork, porcelain figures,frills and especially furniture rose to the occcasion as the French upper classes sought to outfit their homes in the now fashionable style.

Ludwigsbg Mirror
Interior at Gatchina


Though Rococo originated in the decorative arts, the style came across clearly in paintings. Painters used delicate colors and curving forms. They would decorate their canvases with cherubs and myths of love. Portraiture was also popular. Some works show a sort of naughtiness or impurity in the behavior of their subjects, showing the trend of departing away from the Baroque’s church/state orientation. Landscapes were pastoral and they often showed the leisurely outings of aristocratic couples.

The Union of Earth and Water by Rubens



 The idea of furniture had evolved to a symbol of status and took on a role in comfort and versatility. Furniture could be easily moved around for gatherings, and many specialized forms came to be such as the fauteuil chair, the voyeuse chair, and the berger en gondola. Changes in design of these chairs ranges from cushioned detached arms, lengthening of the cushioned back and a loose seat cushion. Furniture became freestanding, instead of having to be anchored by the wall, to accentuate  versatility of each piece. Mahogany was widely used in furniture construction due to its strength. Also, the use of mirrors hung above mantels became ever more popular in light of the development of unblemished glass.

Walnut Fauteuil Rococo Chair

Rococo chair



4 Mar

Baroque was a style that was prevalent from the late 16th century to the early 18th century in Europe. A style that “is characterized by dynamic movement, overt emotion and self-confident rhetoric”.The architecture of the Baroque was characterized by:

new emphasis  placed on bold massing



light-and-shade (chiaroscuro)

‘painterly’ color effects

bold play of volume and void

There are three different English Baroque periods; Charles II, William and Mary, and Queen Anne.

Charles the II

William and Mary

Queen Anne

Trevi Fountain



German Baroque


The Baroque style was highly supported by the Roman Catholic church. The Prostestant Reformation led them to want the arts to depict religious themes directly to the viewers. They wanted the arts to be accessible to the illterate instead of the well-known, which had been the idea of the Renaissance.The style was dramatic, and was used to impress and to also maybe scare the viewers into the ideas that were being presented.

The intensity and immediacy of baroque art and its individualism and detail—can be seen in such things as the ultra real renderings of cloth and skin textures. These details make Baroque one of the most compelling periods of Western art. In the Baroque era the following characteristics were seen:



handling of paint


the depiction of space and movement

Estasi di Santa Teresa by Bernini

Adoration by Ruben



Large wardrobes, cupboards, and cabinets had twisted columns, broken pediments, and heavy moldings. In Baroque furniture the details are related to the whole; instead of a framework of unrelated surfaces, each detail contributes to the harmonious movement of the overall design

The early Flemish Baroque furniture, dating from the second quarter of the 17th century, was but a slight adaptation of the late Renaissance style. Typical are the oak cupboards with four doors and the chairs with seats and backs of velvet or leather held in place by nails.

But by the mid-17th century Italy was producing flamboyantly carved, painted, and gilded  furniture, decorated with such typical motifs as cupids, acanthus, shells, and boldly drawn scrolls, and was further enriching chairs and stools with fine-cut velvets and table tops with marble or pietra dura (a mosaic-like technique in which coloured stones are cut and shaped and inlaid in a design). Chairs and stools with exaggerated scrolled arms and legs, and handsome walnut and ebony cabinets and cupboards with carved decoration on the pediments, friezes, and corners and sometimes inlaid with marble or pietra dura set in molded panels, typify the Italian furniture of the later Baroque phase.


Baroque Bedroom Suite





11 Feb

The Renaissance (Italian: Rinascimento, French: Renaissance, from ri- “again” and nascere “be born”)was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, that began in Florence in the late Middle Ages and later spread to the rest of Europe. As a cultural movement, it encompassed a renew in interest of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting was seen, and gradual but widespread educational reform was starting to be implemented. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art.

Mona Lisa

Sistine Chapel

Da Vinci

Lorenzo de Medici

David by Michaelangelo

During the Renaissance a special place was occupied in Italian households by cassone (chests) in which brides’ dowries were stored. Thy were usually made in pairs to stand next to each other in a room, so that the pictorial scenes could be read in the right order.

A type of chair called a sgabello was much favoured at this time in Italy. The seat was a small wooden slab, generally octagonal, supported at front and back by solid boards cut into an ornamental shape; an earlier variety was supported by two legs at the front and one in the rear; a solid piece of wood formed the back.

Another chair of the period was the folding X-shaped chair, sometimes called a Dante chair. Tables were generally oblong, supported by columns, consoles (brackets), or terminal figures, with a long central stretcher running from end to end. Italian Renaissance furniture forms reshaped the furniture of the remainder of Europe.