A 19th century style often included in the larger category of Federal. Adam style is characterized by a strong but restrained classical influence, somewhat heavier than contemporaries Hepplewhite and Sheraton.
A style developed in North America in the 17th century by the early American settlers with influences from around the world, but especially Europe.
Artisan style is characterized by fine but not overly ornate workmanship that celebrates the maker’s community identity or ethnicity. In general, an artisan is a craftsperson who works by commission, taking pride in the quality of work but working to the commissioner’s specifications in terms of creative detail.
A style of the early 20th century that incorporated new materials and was characterized by bold, geometric forms.
Art Nouveau went against the Victorian mainstream of the time around the turn of the 20th century. This style is characterized by smoothly curving lines and subtle transitions through the form. It uses organic forms as inspiration for the entire design rather than simply the ornamentation. Typically, Art Nouveau lines begin a large S- shaped curve that ends in a
rapid, whip like tail.
Arts and Crafts
The Arts and Crafts period between the 1860’s and 1939 was an answer to the Victorian style. Rather than drawing on ornamental styles from the past, it took on a rustic, craftsman look.
A general term referring to styles of the Far East. See Chinese and Japanese for two more specific examples of Asian style. Furniture with Asian sensibilities is popular as a subset of contemporary style.
Between the 17th and early 18th century, Baroque style heavily influenced Western Europe. It originated in Italy and was representative of the Roman Catholic Church. Pieces are characterized by large twisted columns, broken pediments, and heavy moldings. The details are related to the entire piece and flow throughout the entire work rather than simply throughout one panel.
Chinese furniture, ranging in time from the mid-1300s to the mid-1600s, typically features fine, simple designs made of choice hardwoods, beautifully finished, and unornamented except for careful mouldings and important hardware made of metals such as pewter, brass and copper. Common characteristics are unique joinery, lacquered wood pieces and inlays of
mother of pearl, marble, ivory, and stones.
A term referring to furniture styles in use in colonies around the world during the great colonial period from the 16th to 19th centuries. Colonial furniture is characterized by a strong “mother country” influence balanced by the use of local materials and adapted to local needs.
Based on the Modern style, except this style uses classical concepts for decoration and
detail. Often furniture is made of rubber, metal, or concrete with long low profiles.
Mass-produced furniture popular in the mid-19th century, originating in functional demands rather than in display. Usually painted white, pale lilac or blue and often enhanced with fruit and floral motifs or abstract curvilinear designs. Turned legs and split backs are common characteristics.
A casual style that gained popularity in the 1980′s and remains popular today, often featuring nature and nostalgic motifs. The appearance of handcrafting is also important. “Distressing” is commonly seen.
A 20th century style originating in the Netherlands. As with other Dutch furniture of the
period, DeStijl furniture is characteristically simple and clean-lined.
Named for the Directorate of France after the French Revolution, Directoire style prevailed between 1793 and 1804. It is characterized by Etruscan-appearing forms and motifs, including mythical and stylized animal forms. Of note are mahogany dining tables of the period, which were for the first time decorative enough in themselves to be displayed without cloths.
Early Flemish Baroque furniture, dating from the 17th century, was but a slight adaptation of the late Renaissance style. Typical are oak cupboards with four doors and chairs with seats and backs of velvet or leather held in place by nails. Most pieces are massive, solid unpretentious pieces made of local woods with turnings. Dutch furniture of this period can be distinguished by its simpler design and a preference for molded panels over carved ornament. Later, marquetry and walnut-veneer surfaces became the most common decorative treatments.
This style flourished between 1608 and 1720 in Virginia and New England. It included unpretentious wood furniture of simple construction with little design detail and crude copies of Jacobean, Carolean, and William and Mary. Most pieces echoed European styles.
Between 1515 and 1547, the transitional period between Gothic arts and the classical revival. Characterized by arch form, ornament and detail in style and decoration, high relief carving with diamond shapes and architectural pilasters, and ornamented with olive, laurel, and acanthus leaves. Pieces usually featured no hardware
Popular during the reign of Elizabeth I of England in the latter half of the 16th century, Elizabethan furniture is massive and often heavily carved. The style regained popularity in the early 19th century.
The period distinctions of English furniture are somewhat indefinite owing to the variety of labels according to monarchs, designers, typical woods, external influences, etc. Changes were happening so rapidly that primarily the type of wood used distinguished the boundaries of the English style.Classified by the separation of the ages of oak, walnut, mahogany, and satinwood.
Sophisticated style with great attention to detail and ornamentation.
This was the American’s reaction to the Neo-classic style during the late 18th century. Federal is more geometric and is lighter and more delicate than preceding styles. Details include fine inlay and refined turnings. Chair backs are either square cornered or curved.
Finnish furniture designers used bent and laminated (layers of solid wood) woods to create organic, humanistic forms and lightweight open shapes. These designers were also the first to experiment with tubular steel in furniture design.
Though this style ranged in time from about 1100 to 1500, until 1400 French furniture was indistinct from the Gothic style of Northern Europe – ecclesiastical. The nomadic lifestyle established the need for chests, coffers, and benches. Prominent pieces were those that served dual purposes and were easy to travel with. Originally based on the Italian Renaissance, the French furniture of the 16th Century was very detailed and graceful with inlay marquetry of ivory, mother of pearl, and various colors of wood.
French provincial furniture was first made in the mid-1700s and continued to be widely produced throughout France during the 19th century. Many of these pieces were pared down, less-ornate versions of furniture that was popular in Paris and Lyon during the reign of Louis XV. But whereas the more refined “town” furniture tended to be highly polished and made of exotic timbers such as mahogany or rosewood, provincial furniture was produced by cabinetmakers from local timbers such as oak, beech and walnut and fruit-tree woods. For many enthusiasts, the raw honesty and warmth of these native French
timbers is a big part of the appeal.
A period from about 1714 to 1790 that reflects the British interpretation of Palladianism (early), the Rococo (mid) and Neo-classicism (late).
The style period between 12th and 16th century is known as Gothic. This style derived from Roman architecture and was seen in France by the middle of the 12th century. It is characterized by the use of highly decorative panels and the use of indigenous woods. It was revived in England around 1740 and known as “Gothick.” North Americans began to make their own versions in the mid 1800’s.
From 9th century B.C. with Egyptian roots. Characterized by use of bronze animal legs, gilding and encrusted jewels and stones. Used native woods such as olive, yew, and cedar. It features sweeping curves on legs and backs, and centers on couches, chairs, stools, tables, chests, and boxes. Usually not highly decorated.
(See also Federal) George Hepplewhite, author of the posthumously published The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide (1788), stated his goal as “to unite elegance and utility.” Hepplewhite style is conservative, retaining design elements from earlier periods such as the cabriole leg, but tended to have a lighter appearance than the Adam style, its contemporary.
Characteristics of this 15th century style include simple outlines and details such as architectural profiles with classic mouldings, ornamentation of acanthus, Rinceau, and animal forms.
This style, popular between 1603 and 1649, is the earliest work from the Americas. It is also referred to as Pilgrim furniture. It is characterized by heavy turnings used as legs and spindles. At times, turned legs are split in half and applied to panels for decoration. Oak or pine is common and the ornamentation is sometimes painted.
Japanese domestic usage required little furniture. The chief requirement for the few forms that were developed was that they be easily movable. Chests and cupboards were built in with sliding doors. Usually finished with highly polished lacquer flecked with gold and decorated with fine-scaled flower, animal, and landscape motives. Thin mats made of rice straw called tatami covered the floors and were used for sitting. Cloth cushions were also used, as were small tables of wood or lacquer, either folding or rigid. Dressing tables and writing tables were specialized forms that evolved from the simple table. The folding screen was an indispensable adjunct to the other furnishings as it could be moved to change the entire aspect of the room. Japanese furniture forms have changed little for centuries.
Features 17th century Italian classic ornamentations of columns, pilasters, and geometric shapes. Traces of Gothic influences are present. The beauty of line and mass appear more important than surface enrichment.
The period from 1715 to 1774, also known as the Regence, marked a shift from the weighty character of earlier rococo styles to embrace a more light-hearted, somewhat simpler feel. Carvings and marquetry were simplified and contributed more to the overall motif of the piece than in the prior period.
Early Middle Ages: With the collapse of the Roman Empire during the 4th-5th centuries, Europe sank into a period in which little furniture, except the most basic, was used: chairs, stools, benches, and primitive chests were the most common items. There is evidence that certain ancient traditions of furniture making, particularly that of turnery, influenced early medieval craftsmen. Turnery was used in making chairs, stools, and couches in Byzantium, and it seems that this technique was known across Europe as far north as Scandinavia. Later Middle Ages (14th and 15th centuries): Folding chairs and stools, trestle tables with removable tops, and beds with collapsible frameworks were usual. The religious houses were an exception to this in that they enjoyed a certain security denied to the outside world. Much of the best furniture of this period was therefore made for use in churches and monasteries, and many of the ideas and developments that were later to add to the domestic comfort of Europe originated in the cloister. Household furnishings were frequently crude in design and roughly constructed. Other forms of carved decoration on furniture became more common during the 15th century, when surfaces were carved with tracery and other Gothic motifs. During the Middle Ages a great many pieces of furniture, including those with carved decoration, were painted and sometimes gilded, a practice that continued well into the Renaissance. The chest was the basic type of medieval furniture, serving as cupboard, trunk, seat, and, if necessary, as a simple form of table and desk.
Ranging in time from 1550 to 1610, Middle Renaissance furniture was characterized by broken pediments, colonnettes, pilasters, flat strapwork, and cartouche ornamentation. Stars and diamonds were used in bold relief.
The Mission style, from the early 20th century but enjoying a resurgence today, is inspired by the mission furniture of the Southwest that was made of rough-sawn lumber and pegs and dowels. It is a very popular offshoot of the Arts and Crafts period. The style is characterized by simple, functional designs made of oak and stained wood with minimal ornamentation. Leather and Native American designs are often the motif of the coverings.
An early-to-mid 20th century style, Modernism, one extreme of the Art Deco movement, was austerely functional in its purest form. It drew on Machine Age sensibilities and minimized ornament in favor of extreme simplicity of form following function.
Neo-classicism, which is sometimes called Louis XVI, lasted from 1750 through 1800. Travel into Greece, Italy, and the Near East during this time produced archaeological discoveries, and publications about these were spread through Europe. In response, designers of this period looked to classical art for inspiration. Chair backs took on rectangular or shield shapes, and slender, straight lines were the rule.
Popular from the 1820s in Europe and from the 1840s in North America, this style features such motifs as pinnacles, crockets, and trefoils.
An American style created in the early 18th century. The most relevant feature is the cabriole leg. The cabriole leg is a bowed, offset leg that grows from the floor around the entire piece. Walnut is the favored wood, but maple and cherry are also used. Mahogany began to achieve popularity during this time.
Generically, a traditional furniture style characterized by majestic forms. Many especially European furniture styles are further characterized by the name of the specific monarch or monarchical dynasty during the style’s time period, such as William and Mary and Tudor.
Essentially a continuation of the neo-classical style with a stronger archaeological emphasis. Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt inspired the use of Egyptian ornament. Mahogany furniture took on winged lion supports and pilasters headed with sphinxes’ busts or palm leaves.
In the early 20th century, Rietveld style grew from the Dutch Arts and Crafts movement with a strong Frank Lloyd Wright influence. Machined forms and manmade materials figured in this style, which sought to preserve the integrity of Arts and Crafts while embracing the modern world.
This movement began in Italy in the 13th century and continued through the 17th century. After it was introduced in France it spread throughout northern Europe. It often features ornamentation inspired by Italians Michelangelo and Raphael. The furniture is true to the purpose of the piece and often incorporates mythological or biblical figures. Walnut is often the wood of choice.
A variation of the Federal style.
A contemporary retrospective view, which reinterprets some of the best-loved looks from the 1930s to 1980s. The mood of these pieces is playful and ironic. The classics have extra emotional punch because you recognize such items as exaggerated Hollywood sofas, 1950s boomerang tables or wacky ’70s chairs from late night films, TV sitcoms and old cartoons.
A French-influenced style that dominated the first half of the 18th century, essentially a lightening of the baroque period. Rosewood and fruit woods replace the darker woods used previously. The details of the furniture were more delicate, curved forms with smaller units of ornament.
Early medieval furniture with crude Roman influences. Characterized by arches and curves, simple geometric arrangements, coarsely rendered animal and plant forms, and paint in decorative hues. Found throughout Europe, the Romanesque style preceded Gothic and Renaissance styles.
The Russian style is a blending of styles from throughout Europe. The production of metal furniture can be considered a purely “Russian” phenomenon since the production of metal furniture was not found elsewhere in Europe at the time
18th century utilitarian objects that were usually handmade of common materials. Decorations resembled natural growth of trees, etc. The strength and character of southwestern and Colonial Mexican design is included in this style, as are the hunting lodge looks of the Adirondacks and the northwest.
At the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition and the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, the larger world was first exposed to the simple, clean, and lightweight forms of Scandinavian furniture. Quality craft combined with mass production where appropriate are hallmarks of the style. Bent plywood is a commonly used material.
The Shakers, who were a religious society with colonies throughout the United States, produced furniture during the early nineteenth century that is characterized by its economy and efficiency. They produced works with the attitude that work is prayer, which resulted in highly practical and functional designs that appeal to modern tastes. The plain turnings of a classic, straight back, Shaker chair is indicative of the design’s commitment to simplicity and function.
Thomas Sheraton gave his name to a stylistic period from the late 18th to early 19th centuries. The Neo-classical movement is heavily influenced by his The Cabinet Dictionary and The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book.
Contemporary style which is highly influenced by Native American Indian traditions. Light-colored woods, light and bright color palettes, rich patterns, and desert scenery characterize furniture.
Ranging in time from the mid-1200′s to 1600, furniture of this style is vigorous, masculine, and even barbarous. Typical pieces were richly carved, painted, gilded, and inlaid with ivory in a Moorish manner. They used metal supports and ornamentations, nail heads, and chip or gouge carving techniques.
Traditionally styled furniture is available in both original antique pieces and quality reproductions. This type of furniture usually follows a particular period style such as Georgian, Tudor, Regency, or Louis XV.
The Tudor period is generally accepted as the reign of Henry VIII through the reign of Elizabeth I of England. Tudor furniture was typically massive, heavily carved, and influenced by Italian Renaissance furniture. The foregoing Gothic style contributed its straight lines to this period as well.
Victorian refers to a time period rather than a particular style. The Victorian period fell between 1837 through 1901. The industrial revolution allowed for the mass production of furniture and styles from earlier periods were drawn upon. Heavy ornamentation is a hallmark of the Victorian period. The round ottoman, balloon back chair, and single end sofa were all developed during this period. Victorian can be further subdivided into Victorian-American and Victorian-English.
William and Mary
An American style popular in the American colonies during the late 1600’s. Walnut and maple became the material of choice and veneering was introduced for highly figured, naturally decorative wood. Hinged lids were placed on desk boxes on stands, and on chests of drawers, producing the secretary we are familiar with today.
The term Windsor refers to a chair style dating from the 18th century. Use of local woods is characteristic of Windsor chairs, which are available in regionally variant forms. Saddle-shaped seats and spindle backs are common.