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Furniture Antiques Styles

Furniture styles

A handful of information on the stylistic features of furniture typical of particular periods. For everyone who wants to know the history of furniture we have prepared short descriptions of each following style in the panel on the right:
  • Louis Philippe
  • Eclecticism
  • Art Nouveau
  • Biedermeier
Information on the styles are taken from „Terminological dictionary of furniture” by Izydor Grzelak, PWN
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Louis Philippe

This name is used with reference to the furniture from the reign time of Louis Philippe (1830-1848). It is the Romanticism time also referring to the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and, most of all, Rococo forms adjusted to the needs of the middle class and engineering industry. This is the beginning of the Eclecticism which would spread out during the second half of the 19th century. Furniture forms are simplified, heavy in proportions, with a great amount of profiles and ornaments. The main material is mahogany, palisander and local kinds of wood of a light colour, especially fruit, ash and birch. Bronze was replaced with sculpture and inlay, in which the most common ornamental designs are still acanthus leaves, urns, lion masks, rosettes and swans. A lot of furniture types were taken over from the 18th century and from the Empire Style, especially furniture to sit. When the springs began to be put into the furniture (1825) most of the chairs, armchairs and sofas became much softer and were topped with a striped or flowered moquette with embroidery and reach haberdashery. Still popular are comfortable armchairs of the bergère type and couches, the most widespread tables have got a round or an oval top placed on the one leg which is forked at the bottom into a tripod. Forms became simplified and heavy, but thanks to bends also more comfortable. Next to the exotic types of wood the European one with a fine, thin veneer was also in use. At that time a great deal of furniture with tuft, fringes and placed on mobile castors occured. A greater comfort came with upholsterer springs which were introduced in 1828.
This name is used to describe different tendencies in the art of the 19th century which were developing since the 1830s and reffering to the former styles and epochs, especially to Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque und Rococo. The Rococo`s forms were frequently imitated, but it was not a true imitation of this style, for the general shape, design, proportions, details and ornaments of the furniture varied very clearly from their originals. The furniture were topped with a colorful moquette which was often patterned upon various ornaments. The bottom and the backrest were softly padded and quilted. In the second half of the 19th century the upholstery became an important part of the furniture, especially when it comes to a style which began to spread out at that time in France (The Second Empire Style). The years 1840-1860 belonged to Gothic Revival and 1860-1880 to Neo-Renaissance which achieved its most pompous form in German furniture. At the end of the century almost all the important styles were imitated, and they happened to occur in a one work.
Art Nouveau
The Art Nouveau style was a kind of rebellion against the imitation of the previous epochs and a searching for new forms. It generated its own typical stylistics with a wavy line, a flat spot, a sharp contour, verticalism, assymetry, slender lines and pastel colours. One of the important merits of this style was a break with a rich ornamentation and the hierarchy which had divided art into „the pure art” and „the applied art.” The most common oranaments included floral motives (lilies, bindweeds, reeds), flowers (roses, thistle, dandelion, iris, chrysanthemum, nenuphar), insects (dragonflies, butterflies), various fantastical creatures (chimeras, dragons), animals (snakes, swans, peacocks). At that time plenty of valuable and beautiful furniture occured which frequently had great decorative and constructional qualities, but were hardly usable. Nevertheless, the majority of furniture managed to combine the functionality and the form quite harmoniously, very often with reference to the entire interior. The surfaces of furniture were frequently vivified with an inlay, metal fittings, combination of different types of wood or polychromy.
It was a furniture and an interior design style which manifested itself in the strongest way between 1815 and 1848, mainly in Austria and Germany. As a furniture style it was a break with the very popular at that time Empire Style by standing in opposition to its decorative and monumental tendency. The furniture became simply and had a solid construction, mostly without any metal fitting, corbeille, bronze or gilded elements. It was a return of a simple inlay or painted black ornaments. The seize of furniture was adapted to small interiors, frequently imitating English styles e.g. the Sheraton Style. Still very popular were mahogany, palisander, ash, walnut, birch, maple, poplar and various kinds of fruit trees. The furniture was veneered and polished, intimate, without a representative pomp, the natural wood grains were exposed, a lot of tiny furniture forms occured e.g. small tables, flower tables, stands. The most popular was a round or an oval table, often laying on the lyres or having round flaps. Other popular furniture types were sofas, library wardrobes, writing desks, glass-cases, chests of drawers. For furniture of that time characteristic was a simple and clear architectural division and a harmonious combination of vertical, horizontal and curve lines and a discreet ornamentation which means the most frequently a simple inlay. These are the qualities which decided that this furniture has been still popular. By upholstered furniture the most common were moquettes in pastel colours, unpatterned or floral (with small flowers). Commonly used were also covers and springs which got into production at that time.


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