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The Emperors and Their Furniture

Aug 17, 2007
Many different periods saw different the introduction and use of different styles. They are unique and different in their own ways.

The short period reign of King William and Mary is owed with the creation of problem for the twentieth-century collectors in trying to distinguish some of the Dutch furniture from English. Queen Anne is always associated with walnut furniture and some of the finest surviving pieces date from her time. Thomas Chippendale, a cabinet-maker collected many styles long before the superior working qualities of mahogany led to new designs.

William and Mary 7(1689-1702)
This was a period that saw the arrival of large numbers of Dutch workers, who came over from Holland, with King William III, who was also Prince of Orange. Having been born and brought up in Holland, it is not unexpected that both he and his Queen (daughter of James II of England) should be fonder of the productions of that country than those of England.

To these monarchs is owed the creation of a problem for twentieth-century collectors in trying to distinguish some of the Dutch furniture from English. Also, as the reign was only a short one, it is not easy to tell William and Mary furniture from Queen Anne; pieces with showy decoration are usually said to have been made before 1700.

Cabinets and chests often had a plain turned ball-shaped foot (replaced in more recent times by a bracket foot of later design) and turned legs favored the inverted cup. Stretchers (cross-pieces connecting the legs of chairs and tables) were of a 'wavy' shape and usually had a turned pointed knob (finial) where the two pieces crossed over.

Queen Anne (1702-1714)
Walnut furniture is always associated with the name of this Queen, and some of the finest surviving pieces date from her time. Marquetry was seldom used, and every effort was made to show off" the grain of walnut veneers to the best advantage on pieces of simple outline. Lacquer remained popular. The cabriole leg was the most important introduction, and was often carved with a shell on the fat curved knee. Mirrors were more plentiful and of smaller size, and upholstery with both silks and needlework became general.

Early Georgian (1714-1730/40)
Much furniture similar to that of Queen Anne's reign was made. At the same time, gilding became popular and was used for mirror-frames, tables and even chairs. The Kent or Palladian style was fashionable, and this showed architectural features (Wm. Kent, whose name is given to the style, was a prominent architect) such as the broken pediment, and a frequent use of marble tops for tables.

Mid- Georgian: Chippendale (1730/40-1770)
The introduction of mahogany followed a brief period in which red walnut (from Virginia) replaced the familiar French walnut.

At first, mahogany was used in the same styles as walnut pieces had followed, but before long the superior working qualities of mahogany led to new designs. Many different styles were collected and adapted by Thomas Chippendale, a cabinet-maker, who published them in his book, The Director, in 1754. Thus almost all furniture made between about 1750 and 1780 is known today, conveniently, as 'Chippendale', French 'Chippendale' features curved outlines, and particularly the cabriole leg with an outwardly curling toe.

Gothic 'Chippendale' shows the arch with a pointed top (lancet-shaped), as a part of the design for doors of bookcases, in the form of piercing for the backs of chairs, and in fretting on legs.

Chinese 'Chippendale' uses Chinese pagodas, Chinese figures and birds and other Far-Eastern forms. One or other can be found on all pieces of furniture of this type, but the mirror-frame often has them all.

All these period rulers and people have recorded their own unique styles and designs. Their shapes, the curves and the use of veneer, marquetry and lacquer, etc. the way they are molded and polished also makes all the difference and they are unique in their styles.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.kitchen-plans-n-designs.com/ , http://www.mycollectablesresource.info/ , http://www.solidcollectables.info/
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