18th Century Georgian Furniture Styles
The times between 1720 and 1790 ushered in over half a century of increased awareness and sophistication with the gradual introduction of more accurate copies of furnishings of the early Queen Anne, Georgian, Chippendale and Hepplewhite features.
The colonial craftsmen and furniture makers of the Georgian period brought the art of furniture making they had made for the furnishing of the opulent homes that were erected in the Renaissance style.
Coming after the Early American period, the Georgian style was unlike the former, more thoughtful of designs, style and scale. And unlike the crude copies of Jacobean, Carolean and the William & Mary styles made using only local wood, Georgian period furniture makers had a majority of their furniture pieces well selected mahogany wood, maple, satinwood, cherry, and Virginia walnut wood.
The early to mid 18th century brought on a new social lifestyle that included visits for tea and coffee drinking, and parlor games. The era also brought on a style consciousness that made people buy furniture not only for its use, but for its aesthetic merits and designs.
Popular Furniture Designs of the 18th Century
Curved lines were very prominent in the designs of furnishings and furniture, and a certain amount of rich detailed carvings of French origin were applied to small surface areas. Many of these traditional furniture items have become highly valued collectibles today.
Chairs were designed with cabriole legs and referred to as the bandy, and this style was soon followed by the claw and ball foot. The fiddle back chair, or Queen Anne splat back chair was also introduced during the American Georgian period.
Sofas, couches and daybeds were common pieces that were upholstered stylishly and adorned with loose cushions, and roundabout chairs became trendy items of furnishing
Tables consisted of knee-hole tables and desks, tilt-top pie-crust tables, consoles, pier tables. The reproductions were usually accurate but frequently varied in proportion and detail. Desks with cabinet tops and secretaries with slant lids were intricately made and very popular at this period.
The cabinets were one of the most popular items of classical furniture because they were used for the display of precious collections of imported porcelain and earthenware. These units were largely called China cabinets as they still are today. Most of these items of furniture came with scroll or triangular pediments.
Examples of earlier designs featured the cabriole legs with lion's paw, club or claw and ball foot.
Bedroom furniture had their own distinct style and uses and consists of high-boys, chests, low-boys, chest on chests, bureaus and four-poster beds.
Oriental style finishes were imitated using ordinary high gloss paint when the use of Japanese finishes was introduced.
The oriental look soon became a fad with young women with terms like Japanning and Decalcomania becoming an interior decoration term.
Fine Furniture Productions of Colonial Craftsmanship
Soon by the mid to late 18th century, cabinet makers and furniture designers in the colonies became famous for their remarkable ability to reproduce English period furniture like the Queen Anne, early Georgian, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, and most of the later English styles.
Their successes continued to toe the line of English furniture styles with designs of Hepplewhite and Sheraton produced mainly in mahogany and satinwood.
Today, a great number of these classical furniture are still owned by prominent Pennsylvania families with many of them still carrying the labels of the original furniture makers.
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