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Full text of "Elements of style in furniture and woodwork, being a series of details of the Italian, German Renaissance, Elizabethan, Louis XIVth, Louis XVth, Louis XVIth, Sheraton, Adams, Empire, Chinese, Japanese, and Moresque styles ... for the use of architects, furniture designers, cabinet makers and others"

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ELEMENTS OF STYLE 



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By ROBERT BROOK. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

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University of Toronto 



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ELEMENTS OF STYLE 



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FURNITURE 






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WOODWORK. 



^^/;/^ ^ SERIES of DETAILS of the 
Italian, German Renaissance, Eliza- 
bethan, Lottis XlVth, Louis XVth, 
Louis XVIth^ Sheraton, Adams, Em- 
pire, Chinese, Japanese, and Moresque 
Styles, carefully dra'u.'n from the best 
examples, for the use of Architects, 
Furniture Designers, Cabinet Makers, 
and others. 



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BY 



Robert Brook. 



PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR AT 

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LONDON, W. 



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IVyman ir' Sons, Printers, 
Great Queen Si., London, W .C. ^^-^N, 



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PRE FA CE. 




LTHOUGH many books have been published with a view of illustrating 
various phases of Art manufacture, I am not acquainted with an}' 
work which presents in a concise form the characteristic details of 
the different styles of domestic furniture. 

Feeling myself, the want of such an easily accessible hand-book, 
and believing that it will be equally useful to many others, both designers and 
manufacturers, I have endeavoured in the following series of sketches, in some 
measure to supply the deficiency. 

It is, of course, impossible in a work of moderate dimensions, to give more than 
a selection from each period. I have, therefore, only chosen those examples which 
I have thought to be typical or suggestive, and likely to be of practical value to 
designers, avoiding any which possess only an antiquarian interest. 

The importance of a knowledge of style being universally admitted, no apology 
need, I think, be offered for the publication of these drawings. They are intended 
chiefly for the use of those who, either from lack of time or opportunity, are prevented 
from consulting the numerous old authorities in woodwork, or examining the original 
specimens contained in our art galleries and museums. The enlarged details of 
mouldings, carvings, iron and brass mounts, &c., should also be serviceable to 
manufacturers who wish to reproduce cabinet work in any particular style. 

As regards the relative merits of the various schools of design represented in the 
following pages, each one must judge for himself; there being no fixed laws by 
which to decide matters of taste. There are few styles which do not contain some 
elements worthy of imitation^ and most of them offer valuable suggestions to the 
designer. 

At no period in the world's history has a knowledge of the decorative and 
constructive Arts as practised by various nations, been so universal as it is at present. 
One result of this spread of information is, that we have no prevailing style of our 
own, but reproductions of the works of all ages and countries, modified to suit 
modern requirements. Some draw their inspirations from Gothic forms, others are 
guided by Classic models, and others again prefer to adapt one of the many varieties 
of Oriental Art. With this diversity of taste, a national style is impossible, nor can 
we hope for any great perfection when the energies of our architects and designers 
are distributed over such a wide field of study. 



This was not the case in the great Art periods of former times, when the talents 
of many generations of Art-workers were combined for the perfection of a single 
style. 

A fickle public now demands something " fresh " every few years, and change of 
fashion in architecture and furniture is almost as rapid as change of fashion in dress. 
The chief aim of the Ancients was to improve on existing types, and not to produce 
novel effects, and it is to this unity of purpose we may attribute all the great works 
of antiquity — the Grecian Temples and Gothic Cathedrals, the models from which 
all subsequent European styles have sprung, and on which all future variations must 
be founded. But although we cannot hope to improve on the proportions of the 
antique, or excel it in purity of design, we can at least avoid those incongruities 
which characterise the most debased periods of Art, by obtaining as much knowledge 
as possible of the styles in which we wish to work, and noticing the peculiarities 
by which the productions of every age and country are distinguished. All good 
authorities are of opinion that an acquaintance with the works of the great masters 
in Architecture and Design is advantageous, in fact essential, to those who wish to 
adopt either of the above professions. As Owen Jones truly remarks in his preface 
to the Grammar of Ornament, "To attempt to build up theories of Art or to form 
a style independently of the past, would be an act of supreme folly. It would be 
at once to reject the accumulated knowledge of thousands of years." At the same 
time we should not slavishly copy old examples, but examine them with the object 
of discovering the methods which their originators adopted, and use them as 
" motifs " on which to graft original thought. 

ROBERT BROOK. 





ITALIAN RENAISSANCE. 

Plates I to 7. 




T is difficult to fix the precise date when Gothic, or geometrical, 
forms gave place to the more naturalesque treatment which 
characterised the Renaissance in Italy ; but it is certain that the 
change above mentioned commenced some time between the years 
1400 and 1450. 

The commencement of the fifteenth century witnessed a great revival in 
the study of classical literature, and there is no doubt that this circumstance 
had a considerable influence on the architectural and decorative arts of the 
period. The constant discovery of many beautiful remains of antiquity in 
various parts of Italy about this time also tended to foster a taste for the old 
methods and .symbols of ornamentation, which had possibly only lain dormant 
during the intervening centuries, or Gothic period, waiting to be once more 
developed. Once started, the new fashion spread very rapidly, and was adopted 
with enthusiasm by many architects and artists of eminence, the results of whose 
labours are to be .seen in the glorious palaces, churches, and cathedrals scattered over 
the length and breadth of Italy. 

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the number of pieces of household 
Furniture in general u.se was extremely limited. The chief articles were : Tables, 
either consisting of simple boards fastened on trestles, or moulded tops resting on 
carved or turned supports ; Chairs with solid backs, carved in high relief ; and 
Chests or Coffers, either carved in hard wood and polished, or carved and gilt, and 
sometimes still further enriched with painting. Many fine examples of these Chests 
are .still extant, in a perfect state of preservation. On plate 4 will be found portions 
of two in the South Kensington Museum, which is very rich in specimens of this 
important piece of Rcnais.sance Furniture. 

The.sc Chests, or Marriage Coffers as they are sometimes called, were used 
for containing clothes, tapestries, gold and silver plate, and other valuables, and were 



presented to the bride and bridegroom, with the other wedding gifts, on the occasion 
of their marriage. It was probably for this reason that so much skill and taste was 
lavished on their production. There are specimens at South Kensington, for 
instance, which arc 6 ft. or 7 ft. long, and richly carved and gilt, the panels being 
painted with historical and other subjects, which must have cost originally very large 
sums of money. 

One great feature in Italian Renaissance woodwork is the extreme delicacy and 
beauty of the carving with which it is generally embellished. Graceful scrolls and 
arabesques, birds, fruit and flowers, and the usual classical details, were all executed 
with consummate skill by the carvers of this period, as is proved by the numerous 
specimens of their handiwork remaining at the present day for our study and 
imitation. 

Walnut and chestnut appear to have been the favourite woods in use at the time 
of which we write. They were probably chosen on account of their suitability for 
carving, which was then the almost universal method of enrichment. 

Most of the examples sketched on sheets i to 7 are from pieces of Italian 
Furniture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 

In making a selection of details from this and other styles that will be 
practically useful, the difficulty is not to find examples, but to choose typical 
specimens and such as are not over-enriched or covered with carving. Plain and 
simple pieces of fifteenth and sixteenth century Furniture are extremely scarce, 
for several reasons. In the first place, in early times, say down to the commence- 
ment of the seventeenth century, Furniture of the better sort was a comparative 
luxury, made principally for the nobility and upper classes ; and inferior or simple 
Furniture was, from its plain appearance, less taken care of, and subject to rougher 
usage than the costly examples which our museums contain, and being, of course, 
less carefully made, was unable to stand the destructive influences of time, and 
ordinary wear and tear. It is therefore difficult to obtain a correct idea of the 
F'urniture in use among the middle classes previous to the sixteenth century. 

On glancing over the Italian specimens at South Kensington, for instance, we 
see a variety of rich Chests, carved and gilt Chairs, Mirror Frames, Tripods, and 
fragments of internal woodwork, most of which are decorated with figures, devices, 
and armorial bearings, indicating that they once belonged to Italian princes and 
nobles ; but of the Furniture of an ordinary middle-class house we see absolutely 
nothing. This deficiency is much to be regretted, but, for the reasons above 
mentioned, it appears to be quite unavoidable. In the following sketches the 
least ornate specimens have been selected, as they will probably be found more 
useful to the majority of our subscribers. 

In the carved panels shown on sheets 5 and 6 it will be noticed that delicate 
arabesques, birds, fruit, grotesque heads, and various other natural objects, were 
favourite subjects for imitation with Renaissance artists. In some cases their work 
shows a refinement of outline and delicacy of finish that have never been surpassed. 

As we have previously remarked, it was Italy that first witnessed the dawn of 
Renaissance Art, and although the new st)-le found many talented exponents in 
other countries, particularly in France, it is to Italy we must look for the purest and 
most refined examples. These, fortunately, are to be found in great abundance ; in 



fact there is hardly an Itah'an town of any importance that does not possess one or 
more public buildings containing specimens of carved Renaissance woodwork, 
generally in tolerable preservation. 

The choir stalls, confessional boxes, and wall-panelling of the Italian churches 
are 'full of interest to the Furniture designer, and offer valuable suggestions for the 
treatment of Cabinets, Sideboards, Seats, and other articles of domestic use. 

The variety of design displayed in Renaissance carving is almost unlimited, 
although the arabesque generally forms the groundwork for most of the schemes of 
panel and surface decoration. It was in the accessories to the scroll enrichments 
that the Italian artist showed his fertility and invention to the greatest advantage. 
He was here comparatively unfettered, and could let his imagination have full play. 
Birds, fruit, flowers, animals, human and grotesque figures, etc., etc., flowed from his 
hand apparently without effort, the result being a school of decorative design which 
has afforded models to successive generations of artists. 

It is to the earlier Italian work, however, that the student will most profitably 
confine his attention, particularly that of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries 
for at that time the ornamental details reached their greatest delicacy and perfection. 
Later on, in the seventeenth century, everything in the way of decorative art became 
clumsy and heavy. 

In the consideration of an architectural style, it is impossible to attach too much 
importance to the various mouldings belonging to it. This remark applies with 
equal force to the various styles of Furniture and constructive woodwork, the 
mouldings of which invariably follow those in the Architecture of the period. 
This is particularly noticeable in the Renaissance work executed before the 
professions of architect and Furniture designer became distinct. In early times 
the architect designed the Cabinets and household Furniture as well as the buildings, 
and he used very similar mouldings for both stone and wood. Plate 2 is devoted 
entirely to Italian mouldings of various descriptions. Some of these were intended 
for execution in stone, but if carried out on a smaller scale they are equally suitable 
for wood. 

The great resemblance between the Architectural and Furniture details of the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries proves beyond doubt that they may in many 
instances be attributed to the same hands. It is, indeed, a well known fact that 
artists and sculptors of the highest eminence did not formerly think it derogatory to 
devote their careful attention to the design and embellishment of articles of every- 
day use. This accounts for the high character of many objects now considered of 
minor importance, but which, at the time of their production, were evidently thought 
worthy of the greatest consideration. Even such small details as handles and lock- 
plates were carefully thought out and designed to harmonize with the Cabinets, etc., 
to which they were to be fixed. Good examples of Italian Furniture mounts are 
comparatively scarce. This may partly be accounted for by the fact that in the 
course of years many of them have become detached from the articles to which they 
originally belonged ; and it must al.so be remembered that the number of pieces of 
Renaissance P'urniture embellished with metal handles and lock-plates of any 
importance has always been limited. 

Most of the old Coffers, for instance, are devoid of handles, and show no traces 
of ever having had any ; so that they must have been lifted bodily whenever it was 
necessary to move them. 



At that most interesting and instructive store-house of beautiful objects, the 
South Kensington Museum, a few fine specimens of Italian Cabinet and Drawer 
handles are preserved. Some of these appear on plate 7. They are mostly of bronzx 
or hammered iron. The two pilasters on plate 5 have been taken from an old 
Italian frontispiece published at Venice in 1470. The complete design will be found 
on the title-page of this volume. It has been reproduced intact, with the exception 
that the author's name and date of publication have been inserted in the upper and 
lower panels, in place of the figures which they originally contained. The beautiful 
early Italian ornament in these pilasters has been slightly shaded in the sketch, so as 
to show its suitability for carving. 



DESCRIPTION OF PLATES i to 7,— ITALIAN RENAISSANCE. 



PLATE 



— Mirror Frame, Capitals, Pilasters, and carved Panels. 

— Italian Mouldings. 

— Pediments. 

— Chair Support, carved Chests, Pedestal, and Turning. 

— Carved Panels. 

—Ditto. 

— Handles and Lock Plates. 





■■—■■"•■■-'■ 



GERMAN RENAISSANCE. 




HE particular treatment of Renaissance details adopted by the Germans 
cannot be described as strictly original, but it presents certain points 
of difference from the Italian from which it was derived, and also 
from the French. German woodwork, although not equal either to the 
French or Italian in point of refinement, very often excels them both in 
richness of detail and facility of manipulation. There never was a period, probably, 
when the wood-carvers art reached such general perfection, and was so universally 
used, both for exterior and interior purposes, as in Germany, Belgium, and Flanders 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Consequently, there are endless remains 
of domestic woodwork to be found all over those parts of the Continent. The chief 
difficulty is to select examples from such a mass of available material. For those 
who are unable to inspect the work " in situ," the designs of Vriedman de Vriese and 
Wendel Dietterlin may be profitably studied ; as they give a very good idea of the 
quaintness and fertility of invention displayed by German artists of the best period. 
The Tables on plate 8 are by de Vriese. They are distinguished by their solidity, 
and give evidence of a knowledge of sound constructive principles on the part of 
their designer. 

The most characteristic German work dates from the sixteenth century, when 
<-he Italian influence was to a great extent outgrown, and the quaint, picturesque and 
sometimes humorous German feeling asserted itself. The examples on plates 8, 9, 
and 10, do not call for any special explanation. They are chiefly valuable as 
suggestions, and the numerous purposes to which they may be adapted will be at 
once apparent to practical men. 

The piece at top of sheet 10 is in reality a centre Table of rather peculiar 
construction ; having cupboards and drawers beneath top. The general elevation of 
this might easily be adapted to a sideboard back, and the two fragments at bottom of 
sheet, which are portions of high dado panelling, would with very slight alteration 
make up into overdoors for the library or dining-room. The construction of Tables 
on sheets 8, 9, and 10 is also worth attention. 

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 8, 9, 10.— GERMAN RENAISSANCE. 

PLATE. 

8. — Two Chairs, Centre Table, Table Ends. 
9. — Hanging Bookcase, Buffet, Table, Carved Panel. 
10.— Centre Table, Table Ends, Portions of Wall Panelling. 




ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN. 




HE impossibility, in many cases, of distinguishing between Elizabethan 
and Jacobean woodwork induces me to include them under the same 
heading. As a matter of fact, there are certain variations in detail 
which enable the experienced observer to state with tolerable accuracy 
to which of the above reigns pieces of " old oak " may be attributed, 
but there are many instances in which even the highest authorities are at fault, for 
the simple reason that the Elizabethan style of construction and ornamentation was 
continued far into the reign of James I. It is really towards the end of his reign that 
a more clearly defined alteration in style is observable. The construction becomes 
simpler and a more Italian feeling prevails, and the carved enrichments are introduced 
with a more sparing hand. Roughly speaking, the more ornate specimens are 
generally Elizabethan and the simpler and more severe ones Jacobean. 

It would possibly be more correct to describe the style under notice as " English 
Renaissance," but here again the designation would not be perfectly correct, for 
although a revival of classical tastes actually took place in England about this 
time, it was not only introduced by foreigners (chiefly Italians and Dutchmen) but 
during many years, almost exclusively carried on and practised by them. It is true 
that a fine school of English Architects and Carvers eventually arose, but the initia- 
tive and early stages of development must be credited to foreign artists, 

Gothic began to give place to classic forms in England at the commencement of 
the sixteenth century. Hans Holbein, the court painter, was one of the artists who 
exercised a great influence on decorative work at this time. His designs are 
almost purely Italian in character. This standard of purity was, unfortunately, not 
sustained by his successors, but allowed to degenerate into a coarseness of detail 
which cannot be commended by persons of cultivated tastes. 

The great charm of Elizabethan woodwork is its picturesqueness and variety ; 
much of this would, it must be admitted, be lost by a refining process ; so that we 
must be content to take it for better or for worse, and admire its quaintness and 
originality where we can. There is no scarcity of examples of old oak in England 
fortunately. Every county possesses its ancestral Halls containing Furniture and 
constructive woodwork of more or less importance. Carved Chests, Bedsteads, 
Cupboards or Buffets, Chimney-Pieces, Chairs, Tables and Settles, generally darkened 
with age and very massive, still remain to remind us of the sturdy period in English 



lO 



history when the word " home " which has since become the most cherished in f)ur 
language was first properly understood. 

The turned legs on phite 1 1 are in our way of thinking, enormously heavy, but 
possibly not unnecessarily so considering they were made for much rougher times 
than our own. One reason for the want of finish observable in Elizabethan wood- 
work, may be attributed to the fact that in the early days of Furniture-making the 
distinctive trade of cabinet-maker was unknown. The builder, or village carpenter 
(sometimes in conjunction with the architect), executed the movables as well as the 
fitments that were required for the sixteenth and seventeenth century houses, and 
these worthy artists and workmen, being accustomed to timber construction on a 
large scale did not enter always into the minutiae of cabinet-making, as we now 
understand it. At the present day fashions in Furniture are set in the large towns 
by artists, or associations of artists and manufacturers, and any novelty is rapidly 
circulated all over the country by means of illustrated journals, books, and local 
exhibitions, so that a country maker may easily keep pace with the times. Formerly 
things were far otherwise. 

In the good old days new ideas filtered very slowly from the principal centres of 
invention, and consequently the local carpenter or builder was compelled to rely 
principally on his own resources. This was not an unmixed disadvantage ; for the 
individuality of the workman was by this means developed and unconsciously 
impressed on his work, in the shape of quaint and original conceits in carving and 
construction, which would probably have never occurred to him had he possessed 
books of reference or illustrated papers to refer to. Plate 1 2 shows some of the more 
ornamental specimens of Pilasters, Newels, supports to Chimney-pieces, &c., chiefly 
selected from Richardson's " Studies of old English Mansions," a most useful work 
for those who wish to gain a more comprehensive idea of old English Architecture, 

etc. 

The quality of the carving to be found on Elizabethan Furniture varies con- 
siderably. In some cases it is almost equal to fine Italian work ; in others it is as 
coarse and primitive in design as the ornament on an Indian War Club or Canoe. 
This difference will be noticed in the examples on plate 13. The three lower panels 
here shown, which belong to what we should term the carpenter's version of 
Elizabethan, although effective in appearance, are wanting in finish and refine- 
ment, and they are also weak in the drawing of the details. The central panel on 
same sheet is of a higher class altogether, and shows considerably more knowledge 
of design. 

The carver who executed this panel was probably a foreigner or an English 
workman who had studied abroad. The original from which the sketch was made 
is on some old woodwork from a house near Exeter, acquired by the South 
Kensington authorities and at present to be seen in one of the Furniture Courts of 
the Museum. The date of this woodwork is about 1600 to 1620. Plate 13 also 
contains examples of the interlaced strapwork style of ornamentation so characteristic 
of this period. The pattern is formed by sinking the ground-work about a quarter 
of an inch below the surface, leaving the face of the board or panel of a uniform 
height all over. Sometimes the ground was punched, probably to hide the irregulari- 
ties of the surface. There is an almost infinite variety of designs of this class, both 
in wood and stone ; some of them of a very elaborate description. Elizabethan 
carvers were also very fond of introducing coats of arms with the edges of the 



II 



shields very much cut up and twisted, and sometimes surrounded with the strapwork 
just mentioned. 

A similar class of design, but executed in plaster on a much larger scale, is to be 
found on the ceilings of the sixteenth and seventeenth century houses. 

Plate 14 shows a variety of I^lizabcthan mouldings, some plain and others 
enriched. They arc Italian in character, but coarser, and a trifle less correct in 
proportion. They have been taken principally from Chimncy-Pieces and Buffets, of 
which there are a great number of examples in this country. Interesting pieces of 
old woodwork are often to be found in country churches in the shape of pulpits, pew 
doors, wall panelling, chests, &c. It is only in remote districts, however, that pews 
dating from the period under notice remain in their original condition. The Chimney 
Piece was the most conspicuous feature in the Elizabethan interior, and on it the 
Architect and Carver lavished a considerable amount of thought and skill. As a 
rule, the lower portion, that is from the mantel shelf downwards, was of stone or 
marble, occasionally alabaster, and the upper part was generally made of wood. When 
not carved with a coat of arms or some other heraldic device, the principal panel was 
frequently filled with a portrait of some member of the family to which the house 
belonged. In the less important rooms the space above shelf was simply panelled 
or divided into unequal spaces, by pilasters supporting cornice mouldings. Examples 
of this type of chimney-piece will readily occur to our readers, as they are to be found 
in most country towns and cathedral cities, either in the old inns, or in the Squire's 
Hall or family mansion. The more elaborate chimney-pieces are surmounted with 
pediments varying in design with the style of the general fittings of the room. In 
some cases they were simple mouldings, architecturally grouped ; in others it was cus- 
tomary to pierce (or fret cut as we now call it) a flat board, the portion not cut away 
forming a pattern of interlaced scrolls and bars, similar to examples shown on plate 15. 
The exteriors of many of the buildings at the commencement of the seventeenth 
century were also frequently decorated with this style of ornament, but on a much 
larger scale and in stone. This class of work has a very " gingerbread " effect, but as 
it is characteristic of the Style, we feel bound to draw attention to it. 

Plate 16 consists of drawer, handle, and lock plates. Although specimens of 
Elizabethan metal work of this class are not rare, it requires considerable search to 
bring together many that may be correctly termed representative examples, there 
being such a great similarity between much of the wrought-iron work executed in 
Elizabeth's reign and that produced previously. The old Gothic feeling, in fact, did 
not die out until long after the introduction of the Renaissance. An examination of 
the handles, &c., on plate 16, will show the influence of the previous style very clearly. 
In almost every case hammered iron was the material used for Furniture mounts at 
the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century. Brass did not 
come into general use for this purpose until nearly 100 years later. 

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 11 to 16.— ELIZABETHAN & JACOBEAN. 

PLATE 

II. — Turned Legs, Balusters, Finials, &c. 

12. — Pilasters, Newels, Portions of Carved Chimney Pieces. 

13. — Carved Panels, chiefly from Chests and Interior Woodwork. 

14. — Mouldings. 

15. — Pediments from Chimney Pieces, Overdoors and Chair Backs. 

16. — Handles and Lock Plates. 



12 




LOUIS XIV. 




RENCH Furniture reached the highest degree of splendour and 
magnificence at the time of Louis XIV. It was in the reign of that 
sumptuous monarch that the palace at Versailles was completed ; and 
as he desired to fill its spacious galleries with Furniture that would rival 
their decoration in richness, he commissioned numerous talented artists, 
under the direction of Lebrun, to prepare designs for the various articles required, 
apparently without any regard to expense. The principal object appears to have 
been to produce something as striking and gorgeous in appearance as possible ; and 
that they succeeded in their efforts in that direction is fully proved by the numerous 
elaborate pieces of Furniture which have come down to us from this period. The 
names, also, of many of the designers and art workmen who assisted in producing 
these costly specimens of cabinet work, are preserved, although it is impossible in 
some cases to identify the handiwork of each master. The artists who figured most 
prominently in connexion with the design or manufacture of Furniture in Louis 
XIV.'s reign were Jean and Claude Berain, Lepautre, also a great decorative 
designer, Daniel Marot, and Andrd Charles Boule, the last-mentioned the inventor of 
the class of work inlaid with tortoiseshell and brass which bears his name. Many 
fine pieces of Boule Furniture are in this- country. Her Majesty the Queen has 
several at Windsor Castle ; so has Sir Richard Wallace ; and one of the finest is a 
grand Armoire that was presented to the South Kensington Museum, with other 
choice pieces of French Furniture, by the late Mr. John Jones, of Piccadilly. This 
single piece has been valued at ;^I0,000. It was probably designed by Jean Berain, 
who excelled all his contemporaries in his particular branch, and he may be 
taken as the best exponent of the Louis XIV. style as regards cabinet work. 
The designs of Daniel Marot are sometimes very good, but they are more clumsy 
than Berain's ; and the same objection must be taken to those of Lepautre, although 
the decorative work of this artist is justly admired. 

As previously remarked, the chief characteristic of Louis XIV. Furniture is 
magnificence, and it would therefore be quite out of place if introduced in an 
ordinary small dwelling. It requires costly surroundings, and is essentially a style 
suitable for a palace — not for a cottage. From a constructive point of view, 
Furniture of this period is often open to serious objections ; but it is undoubtedly 



13 



the most suitable that could have been placed in the apartments for which it was 
originally intended. As is the case with other styles, it faithfully reflects the 
characteristics of the age, which was one of glitter and display, in strong contrast 
with the ultra-refinement and delicacy which prevailed later on, during the reign of 
Louis XVI. 

The examples on plate 17 represent legs and other supports to Tables, the two 
lower ones being Clock Stands. They are chiefly from designs by Jean Berain, and 
the enrichments would in most cases be of carved wood, gilt, or chased brass, 
mounted on a groundwork of ebonized wood. 

It must not be inferred from the foregoing remarks on Louis XIV. Furniture 
that it is to be condemned in toto ; on the contrary, it has many very excellent 
qualities. In the first place, it is original ; being unlike anything that had previously 
appeared ; and it is also generally vigorous in design, and rarely disfigured by the 
flimsy and meaningless ornament which is to be found on much of the P'urniture 
made during the following reign. When to these good qualities are added the high 
finish and extreme beauty of the metal mounts with which Louis XIV. Furniture was 
frequently embellished, it must be admitted that it is a style deserving the careful 
attention of the modern designer and manufacturer of Furniture. Although, if 
properly produced, this class of work can never be cheap, yet it is possible, by 
studying its peculiarities, to produce, in a modified form, many useful pieces of 
Furniture that would be within the bounds of modern expenditure. 

The examples on plate 18 are from designs by Berain, Paul Decker, and Daniel 
Marot. The two portions of Cabinets at top are by Berain, the centre glass and two 
side pilasters by Paul Decker, who, although he was not a Frenchman, seems to have 
been thoroughly imbued with the feeling of the period. The two sketches at bottom 
of sheet represent a Bracket and Stand for a Clock, by Daniel Marot. 

In all periods of Decorative art, certain lines, or combinations of lines, will be 

found to occur more frequently than others. As this predominance or repetition of 

lines gives, to a great extent, a character to the work of any period, and stamps the 

date of its production, it is most important, in order to properly understand a style, 

to find out the distinctive line or lines dominating it. In Gothic architecture and its 

accessories, the main lines were almost invariably geometrical, or, in other words, 

they could have been produced with a compass and T square, without the direct 

employment of the hand. The designs of the window tracery and screenwork, for 

instance, are mostly made up of numerous segments of circles struck from various 

centres, in combination with straight lines. Most of these could have been set out 

by any one possessing sufficient knowledge of the use of instruments, and with a 

certain amount of ingenuity. Not so with Italian work ; the Renaissance artists, on 

the contrary, relied chiefly on the free use of the hand for the formation of the 

patterns which were to enrich wood, stone, and metal. In the fifteenth and 

sixteenth centuries, a flowing line, unbroken by any sudden curves, runs through 

and forms the backbone of all the best ornament — a line similar, in fact, to 

Hogarth's line of beauty. In the eighteenth century we find a curve, certainly, but 

it is often used to excess, broken, and t\visted in a variety of meaningless scrolls, 

without reason or motive. This is especially observable in French work dating from 

the end of the reign of Louis XV. In the reign of Louis XIV. a far truer 

appreciation of the correct principles of design existed, as it was understood that no 



14 



piece of decorative art should consist entirely of either straif^ht or curved lines, but 
that they should be used together, the one to relieve or accentuate the other. As a 
result of this knowledge put into practice, we have many beautiful examples of panels, 
friezes, pilasters, and other details with which all who are acquainted with the period 
in question are familiar. A straight line or bar, or a series of bars interlaced, 
and terminating with scrolls, is a distinguishing characteristic of Louis XIV. 
ornamentation. We find this method of enrichment introduced in the form of 
inlays of wood and brass in the Cabinet Furniture, and also painted and carved on 
thevvalls of apartments. Most of the examples on page 21 contain the combination 
of straight and curved lines we have mentioned. 

The characteristic pediment with head in centre, at top of page 19, is the upper 
portion of a glass frame, very boldly carved and perforated. The pedestal on left is 
inlaid in the style of Boule, and the one on the right would be carved in oak. Most 
of the Cabinet Furniture of this period which was not of oak was either carved 
and gilt, or ebonized, and inlaid with brass and tortoiseshell, as above mentioned. 
Furniture was not lacking, either of a useful or an ornamental description. The seats 
were, as a rule, very large and roomy, and upholstered in rich silk, velvet, or 
embroidery. Chairs and Settees with high square backs and carved scroll arms, and 
stretchers ; lofty Beds hung with heavy draperies ; massive Tables supported on legs 
similar to those sketched on sheet 17 ; Cabinets, Pedestals, Screens, and Footstools, 
— helped to fill the apartments at this luxurious period ; while the walls were 
adorned with Brackets supporting Clocks, Mirrors, and Candelabra. Those who are 
unable to cross the Channel to inspect Louis XIV. interiors, furnished in the manner 
we have described, may obtain some idea of their magnificence on a smaller scale by 
visiting the State apartments at Hampton Court. Much of the "Queen Anne" 
Furniture to be found there bears a very strong resemblance to the French work 
manufactured during the reign of the " Grand Monarque." 

The Screen on sheet 20 is given in Jacquemart's useful History of Furniture. 
The frame, which is boldly carved, and gilt, surrounds a handsome panel, the pattern 
being formed by an embroidery of various-coloured beads. The caps and pilasters 
on same sheet will be found in the grand work of Jean Berain, a copy of which is in 
the Art Library at South Kensington Museum. 

Lepautre's designs for Furniture are, as a rule, on far too grandiose a scale for 
ordinary purposes ; they will, however, be found to contain excellent examples of 
the handsome mouldings for which the Louis XIV. style is distinguished. 
Lepautre, who was born in Paris in 161 8, commenced his artistic career as an 
architect, designer, and engraver, shortly after the death of Louis XIII. He has, in 
some cases, been classed with the masters of that school ; but this is a mistake, as 
he was essentially a representative, and one of the principal ones, of the period 
under notice. 

The number of architectural, ornamental, and other designs, published by this 
prolific artist was enormous, and they are now justly esteemed by collectors and 
students, both on account of their intrinsic merit, and also as being historically 
interesting, illustrating, as they do, a sumptuous period of French Art. 

Most of the mouldings represented on sheet 21 have been taken from old 
engravings by Lepautre ; the remainder are from the works of his contempo- 
rary Berain. 



15 



In considering the Louis XIV. style of furnishing, the brass mounts must not 
be overlooked, as they arc important and noticeable features on most of the Cabinet 
Furniture of the time. They are generally boldly conceived, and modelled with 
great skill. Sometimes the ormolu mounts almost cover the surface of the legs and 
Cabinet fronts. In fact, robbed of these metallic accessories, many of the articles 
would lose their greatest attraction. In Boule work, especially, the actual wood 
plays but a secondary part in the construction, and is merely the background on 
which the handsome chased brass ornamentation is displayed. The examples given 
comprise several details of " Boule" Furniture, and as we do not think a large variety 
of highly-chased and inimitable brasswork would be of much practical value to 
modern cabinet-makers, a few typical lock-plates and handles only are shown, drawn 
to an increased scale, on sheet 22. The large drop handle at bottom of page has 
been sketched from one of a set in possession of the author. These have evidently, 
at some former time, been attached to a Commode or Bureau. The actual width of 
the handle, over all, measures 1 1 inches ; so that a Chest of Drawers mounted with 
a set of handles of this pattern, richly gilt, with key-plates to match, must have 
presented a very handsome appearance, and would hardly have required much 
additional embellishment. 

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 17 to 22.— LOUIS XIV. 

PLATE 

17. — Carved and Brass mounted Table Legs and Clock Stands. 

18. — Portions of Cabinets, Glass Frame, Pilasters, Stand, and Bracket. 

19. — Carved Pediment, Pedestals, and Vases. 

20. — Caps, Screen, Pilasters, and corner Ornament. 

21. — Mouldings. 

22. — Handles and Lock-plates. 




16 




LOUIS XV. 




r the expiration of the reign of Louis XIV. a marked change in 
ornamental design took place in France. To satisfy the cravings of an 
enervated and frivolous community, some new fashion had to be adopted, 
and the artists and architects of the period seem to have pandered 
without hesitation to the prevailing bad taste. This change of style, 
however, was not effected suddenly ; the characteristics of Louis XIV.'s work were 
gradually blended with a less severe and more curvilinear method of enrichment. 
The Louis XV. style can, in fact, be divided into two phases ; the earlier is generally 
known as " Regence " (from the fact of its having developed during the Regency of the 
Duke of Orleans), the later as " Rococo." The principal exponents of the former 
phase are Gilles Marie Oppenort and Pineau, whose works on Interior Decoration and 
Furniture should be consulted by those who wish to become thoroughly acquainted with 
"Louis Quinze " in its initial stages of development. In the Regence period there 
was a certain reserve and moderation observed in the designs, and straight lines were 
judiciously blended with agreeable curves ; but in a few years all restraint was 
abandoned, and in the ornamentation, as in the manners of the time unbridled 
license prevailed. We find extravagant twists and scrolls strung together in a 
meaningless manner and without any regard to propriety, even the two sides of a 
piece of Furniture in some cases not being alike. So called ornament is made to 
serve the part of construction, and ponderous structures are found resting on only 
scrolls and shells and foliage, spiky twists, birds, and human figures are mixed up in 
inextricable confusion. That there should be persons of cultivated tastes who admire 
the Furniture of this later period must always be a matter of astonishment to those 
who believe in one of the first principles of design, viz., " that construction should 
be ornamented, not ornament constructed." We can only account for this apparent 
perversion of taste by the fact that all this folly and extravagance was partially 
redeemed by the surprising skill of the metal-workers and chasers who executed the 
brass mounts with which the cabinets, etc., were so lavishly adorned. In these 
we can find much to admire, robbed of them, the bare dpformity and shapelessness 
of outline of many pieces of Louis XV. Furniture is at once apparent. It is to the 
skill of such artists in metal as Caffieri and Gouthiere that the popularity of much of 
the eighteenth century Cabinet work may be attributed. Deprived of their 
inimitable " mounts " articles which now fetch thousands would in all probability 
barely fetch hundreds of pounds. 



17 



With all its faults it must also be admitted that there is great power of drawing 
displayed in some of the Louis XV. work — partly owing to the almost entire absence 
of straight lines. Bureaus, Commodes, Tables, etc., were then made shaped, not only 
in the front but also at the sides. They were curved in plan and also in elevation. 
This class of Furniture is termed " bombe." The same preponderance of shaping is 
to be observed in the Wardrobes, Couches, Tables, Chairs, and other articles. There 
was also a large amount of constructive wood-work executed in the reign of 
Louis XV., and many perfect examples of panelled rooms still remain to show the 
luxurious tastes of a frivolous but fascinating epoch. On sheet 23 are arranged 
several portions of Bureaux, Commodes, etc., chiefly of mahogany inlaid and 
mounted with ormolu ; also a variety of Chair and other legs in the same style. 

As the designs of Oppenort represent the earlier Louis XV. so the work of 
J. A. Meissonier and Francois de Cuvillies, pere, may be taken as typical of the 
later or Rococo. Sheet 24 contains examples of both phases. The two carved 
frame corners at bottom of page are by Meissonier, and the carved panel at top is 
from a frieze in an old house in Paris built during the Regency. The centre frame 
dates from 1757. 

Any essay on the development of the Louis Quinze style would be incomplete 
without reference being made to the influence exerted by Boucher and Watteau on 
the pictorial and industrial arts of their time. The former name is, indeed, one of 
the most prominent, and, although his fame in this country rests almost entirely on 
his skill as a painter of Cupids and pastoral scenes, he was also an efficient master of 
decorative design. Among the architects of the period who gave attention to 
Furniture, Jacques Fran9ois Blondel was probably the most talented. His great 
work, entitled " De la Distribution des Maisons de Plaisance et de la Decoration des 
Edifices en General," which is enriched with 160 copper plates, contains some of the 
purest and least objectionable examples of Louis XV. design. 

Although gilt wood was almost invariably used in the construction of Louis XV. 
Furniture there was also a large amount of lacquered work executed — much of it 
in imitation of the Chinese style, Robert Martin, the inventor of a varnish or 
lacquer bearing his name, was the most skilful practitioner in this department of art, 
and genuine " bits " of " Vernis Martin " are now eagerly purchased when they come 
under the hammer. 

The Chair on plate 25 is a fine specimen of carved gilt Furniture. The 
covering of this chair, probably one of a set, is from the celebrated Tapestry works 
of Gobelin. The four corner-pieces on same sheet represent portions of Console 
Tables originally designed by Pineau, who practised in the first half of the eighteenth 
century. This series of designs was copied by a man named Batty Langley in 
1739 and published by him as his own original work — hardly an honourable 
transaction. 

There are many difficulties in the way of an absolutely correct classification of 
styles, and not the least of these is when the same patterns are reproduced in various 
reigns. This sort of reproduction (or cribbing as some would call it) has been 
general at all times and the custom cannot be said to have become obsolete even yet. 
Numerous instances of facsimile reproductions, such as we have just alluded to, might 
be quoted ; but as no advantage is to be gained by exposing the malpractices of 
former generations, we will only draw attention to the fact, in order to account for the 



18 



resemblance between many of the details here ^iven, althouj^di belonging to (liTfcrcnt 
styles. 

It is in transitional periods that a similarity of design is most observable, as it 
is obviously impossible for an artist working in two reigns to completely throw off 
his earlier manner immediately on the coronation of a new King. Apropos of these 
remarks it will be noticed that several of the mouldings on sheet 26 bear a striking 
resemblance to some we have given with other French styles, the enriched ones more 
especially. The most thoroughly characteristic Louis Ouinze mouldings are 
irregularly curved in section. Some of these are very subtle in their delicate 
gradations of light and shade ; in fact, there is more in them than appears from a 
casual observation. While on the subject of mouldings we would impress on the 
designer the immense importance of this branch of his studies — it cannot, indeed, be 
over-rated. As it has been observed that the most necessary qualification in order 
to become an effective speaker is action, so it may, with equal truth, be said that a 
correct appreciation of the value of mouldings is of the most vital importance in 
order to become a good designer of Furniture or architect. 

In the reign of Louis XV. brass mounts were very extensively used for the 
enrichment of Furniture, but specimens of separate handles for doors and drawer 
fronts are comparatively rare. This is partly owing to the fact that it v/as customary 
(especially in the Rococo period), to make the brass scrolls with which the drawers 
were ornamented, project sufficiently for them to be used as handles. Another 
reason for their scarcity may be ascribed to the custom of using the key itself as a 
handle very frequently. 

In the whole of the fine collection of French Furniture at South Kensington 
Museum there is not a single Louis Quinze Cabinet handle of any importance, and 
we have been obliged to fall back upon the designs of Blondel and Cuvillies for most 
of the handles, etc., on sheet 27. 

In giving these examples of Louis XV. metal work, we hardly do so with the 
idea that they will be reproduced at the present day ; this is scarcely possible, except 
by means of casting from old pieces, on account of the fineness of the chasing and 
beauty of modelling which distinguishes the best work of this class. Such as they 
are, they remain to us as wonderful examples of the skill of a bygone race of artists 
and metal chasers, and they are interesting as illustrations of a peculiar phase of 
eighteenth century art, but belonging as they do essentially to the period in which 
they were produced, they can never be repeated with the same spirit by a generation 
differing so widely in character as does the Englishman of the present day from the 
Frenchman of the last century. 



DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 23 to 27— LOUIS XV. 

PLATE 

23. — Portions of Commodes, Bureaux and Chair Legs. 

24. — Frieze Panel, Carved Frame, and Picture Frame Corners. 

25. — Arm Chair, Corners of Four Tables, Carved Cap, Bracket and Masks. 

2G. — Candelabra Stand, Plain and Enriched Mouldings. 

27. —Cabinet Brass Work. 



c 



X 



19 




LOUIS XVI. 




TRICTLY speaking the term " Louis Seize " should only be applied to 
the Furniture, &c., which was designed during the reign of that 
unfortunate monarch, but such is not the case ; for many articles manu- 
factured in the previous reign are quite Louis XVL in character. The 
change of taste from the extravagances of the Rococo to the refined 
simplicity of Louis XVL really commenced during the reign of Louis XV., which 
fact renders classification according to reign very difficult and misleading. In the 
illustrations of this style, only those examples have been selected which possess the 
true characteristics of Louis XVI. work, which may be enumerated briefly as follows : 
Simplicity of outline, tasteful, but sparing use of enrichment and great refinement of 
detail. Gilt bronze mounts, Sevres placques, and inlays of various woods, all served 
to embellish the cabinets and tables of this period, and the porcelains of Wedgwood 
and fine lacquered panels from Japan, were also brought into requisition for the same 
purpose. Quivers, torches and other amourous emblems, trophies of musical instru- 
ments and swags of flowers were favourite objects of decorative treatment with the 
designers of this date, and we find them constantly recurring in the panels of cabinets, 
in the bronze mounts and in various other places, sometimes with the happiest effect. 
The frequent introduction of vases, tripods, masks and other antique emblems, is also 
characteristic of the style and may be attributed to the discoveries at Pompeii and 
Herculaneum towards the end of the last century. 

French artists, however, were not satisfied with simply copying from the antique; 
they certainly borrowed old symbols, but they invariably imparted to them a French 
flavour, distinct and unmistakable. This antique feeling degenerated later on into 
the crudity and baldness of the style known as " Empire." 

Among the great French cabinet makers of the Louis Seize period, the names 
of Riesener and Gouthiere are most familiar, the former for cabinet work proper — that 
is the woodwork — <rtid the latter for the highly chased mounts with which it was 
generally finished ; but there were also many others of almost equal excellence, such 
as Richter, Oeben, Pafrat, and Garlin, whose work will be admired long after their 
own names are forgotten. Jacquemart in his " Histoire du Mobilier," also mentions 
the names of Martincourt, the master of Gouthiere, Delarche, Jean Louis Prieur, 
Vinsac and Ravrio, as having assisted in bringing the cabinet metal work of this 
period to the state of perfection which it ultimately attained. 



20 



r ) 



The turned legs and feet arranged on plate 28 have been selected from the 
designs of Dclafosse, Boucher, fils, Lalonde, and other contemporaneous French artists. 
They are intended to be finely carved and gilt, or painted white or in light tints of 
colour. Plate 29 shows a few of the more familiar details of the style, among which 
the vase plays a prominent part. We find it constantly introduced, both inlaid and 
carved in wood ; sometimes the vase contains flowers, and very frequently it ter- 
minates with a flame or pine cone, as shown at top of sheet 29. Shields similar to 
those shown on same sheet are also very common features in Louis XVI. decorations. 
The mouldings on plate 30 call for no special comment. 

In the eighteenth century European Furniture fashions were generally derived 
from France ; thus we find that much of the English, German, Italian, and Spanish 
Cabinet work, manufactured between 1750 and 1790, was quite Louis XVI. in 
character. Our own "Adams'" styl6, which prevailed here from about 1770 to 
1800, possesses many points in common with Louis XVI., though inferior to it in 
richness, and to go further back, Chippendale, whose book of designs was published 
in 1760, evidently borrowed many of his extravagant ideas from the Louis Quinzc 
style, which was in vogue during his life. To go further back still, many, if not most, 
of the Queen Anne details with which we are now familiar were also derived 
originally from our inventive neighbours, as may be seen by comparing the productions 
of the two countries during Louis the XIV.'s reign. 

Louis XVI. Interior Woodwork was generally of oak, painted white. The walls 
were divided by pilasters, either delicately carved or painted in colours ; and the 
mouldings were frequently gilt. The Chairs and Sofas were either covered in rich 
French silk or in the beautiful tapestry manufactured at Gobelins, near Paris, and 
Beauvais. Pastoral subjects, flowers and trophies, were worked especially for the 
backs and seats of chairs and settees, both singly and in sets. A complete suite of 
Furniture got up in this style would, it is needless to say, cost a large sum of money, 
and be only procurable by persons of great wealth. 

Louis XVI. Cabinets and Tables, &c., were often exquisitely inlaid with woods 
of various colours, tulip, rosewood, pear, holly, and ebony being the most common. 
Blues and greens were obtained by saturating the lighter woods in chemical solutions, 
and by this means charming effects were produced. The pilasters and panels 
sketched on plate 3 1 have been taken from Cabinets, Screens and Armoires of the 
period. In these as in the other examples of this style, it will be noticed that the 
laurel-Ieaf either in the form of a wreath or swag is frequently introduced. Another 
feature is the use of husks in the flutes of the pilasters and legs, either dropping from 
the top or springing from the bottom. 

The enormous prices frequently realised for good specimens of old French 
Furniture, may, to the uninitiated appear out of all proportion to their intrinsic value ; 
but when it is considered that in many instances the sums paid for them have not 
greatly exceeded the original cost of manufacture, these prices will not appear so 
disproportionate. 

As an example of this expensive class of work may be mentioned the Secretaire 
exhibited at Gore House in 1853, which cost originally 85,000 francs, or about ;^3,400, 
and there are many other pieces in existence whose production must have necessitated 
the outlay of an equally high sum. It should also be remembered that eighteenth 
century P'rench Furniture, often possesses an historical interest apart from its artistic 
merit, through having belonged to personages who played prominent parts in an 



d 



21 



/ 



eventful period of History, Such, for instance, arc the small writing-table (formerly 
belonging to Marie Antoinette) in the South Kensington Museum, for which the 
late Mr. Jones refused ;{J5,ooo, and the famous secretaire belonging to Sir Robert 
Wallace, which was made by Riesener, for Stanislaus, King of Poland, about 1765. 
Those who are only acquainted with ordinary cabinet work will be surprised to learn 
that to produce one of the exquisite cabinets or secretaires just mentioned, would 
occupy the whole time of the most skilful workman for many years, so that in no 
case could such high-class work be brought within the reach of people not blessed 
with princely incomes. The trophies and emblematic devices on j)late 32 are such 
as are found inlaid on cabinet fronts, &c., and some of them have been taken from 
carvings. They are all characteri.scd by that light and graceful touch for which the 
French have long been pre-eminently remarkable. The cabinet brass-work of this 
time is beyond all praise. The sketches on sheet 33 may give a general idea of the 
design, but it is impossible in a mere pen and ink sketch, to reproduce the extreme 
delicacy and daintiness of the best work executed during this period, by Gouthicre and 
his contemporaries — almost equalling in finish the productions of the goldsmith or 
jeweller. The handles, &c., on plate 33 have been taken from examples in private 
collections and from the Jones collection previously mentioned. 

In concluding this brief resume of a fascinating period of French art, one cannot 
do better than quote a paragraph from Jacquemart's " Histoire du Mobilier," an 
English translation of which is to be obtained. He remarks : " Under Louis XVI., 
the period of refinement of every description, wood was to enter on a new phase ; 
not only its forms are sobered down by being covered with delicate details, but it 
carries coquetry to the extent of abandoning gold decoration to show itself clothed 
in a simple coating of white paint, barely relieved in some cases by mouldings of pale 
lilac or sky-blue. Nothing can be prettier than a little drawing-room in this style, in 
which the borders of the glasses, sometimes surmounted by an amorous trophy with 
its doves and torch, the console tables with white marble tops, furniture in pale 
figured satin, or in striped silk with soft tints, have no other relief but the fine orna- 
mented bronzes as delicate as jewelry, thus permitting the beauty and elegance of the 
ladies who inhabited them, and enlivened them by their animated grace to appear 
unrivalled. It must be admitted that this much abused eighteenth century had, in its 
latter days, discovered the secret of the most refined taste, and the highest degree of 
politeness and ' bon ton.' " 



c 



DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 28 to 33— LOUIS XVI. 

PLATE. 

28. — Table and Chair, Legs. 

29. — Vases, Shields and Brackets. 

30. — Mouldings. 

31. — Pilasters and Panels. 

32. — Trophies. 

33. — Cabinet Brass Work. 



II 



22 



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. * . ~ •'-^^^^^^^^T^^ w ■• •'N •^^ •^•^ •^>« •^•tf'--. 



t^ 



"SHERATON." 




HE three English Cabinet-makers of the last century whose names arc 
most familiar to the present generation, are Thos. Chippendale, 
A. Heppehvhite, and Thos. Sheraton. The first named, by reason 
probably, of the greater importance of his published designs, is the 
most celebrated, and in many instances the productions of other makers 
are erroneously attributed to him. As the chief characteristics of Chippendale 
Furniture are very generally known, and there is a marked decline in the popularity 
of that style of Cabinet work, it has not been thought necessary to reproduce its 
familiar details here. Many of these are open to strong objections on the score of 
bad taste ; although the execution of the Cabinet work and carving is, in most 
instances, excellent. Chippendale's principal pattern book was published in 1764. 
Next in rotation comes Heppelwhite, who, in 1789, issued an important set of 
designs for Household Furniture of every description. Most of the articles he 
represents are very graceful and were it not for the extreme rarity of the volume, 
Heppelwhite would, no doubt, have achieved a more widespread reputation. It is 
probable that Sheraton was acquainted with his drawings, for there is a marked 
resemblance between many of the designs of the two makers. Sheraton's first and 
best work, entitled the " Cabinet-Makers' and Upholsterers' Drawing Book," was 
issued in 1791. It contains numerous patterns for Sideboards, Tables, Beds, Chairs, 
Fire Screens, Knife Cases, Secretaires, Dressing Tables, Tripods, etc., etc. A refined 
treatment is adopted throughout ; the tendency being rather towards simplicity than 
over-enrichment. The workmanship displayed in those pieces which have come down 
to us at the present day is as nearly perfect as possible ; in fact, were it not for want 
of polish or rough usage, many of the articles would be as sound and serviceable now 
as they were the day they left the workshop. Plates 34, 35, and 36 will give some 
idea of the style of Sheraton's designs. On sheet 34 are grouped a small Secretary 
or Writing Cabinet, two Chair Backs and various Cornice Mouldings. The Secretary 
is intended to be made of satinwood, cross banded, with a brass gallery at top, and 
the small swag drapery at back of glass doors should be of silk. Plate 35 shows a 
Sideboard, two Bookcase Doors and two Table Legs, etc., mostly taken from the 
" Cabinet-Makers' and Upholsterers' Drawing Book " just mentioned. Sheraton 
Sideboards were generally made without backs. The usual mode of finishing 
them (when the tops were not left perfectly plain) was with two horizontal brass 
rods fixed to uprights, also of brass, and occasionally with Candelabra springing from 



23 



^ 



the centre or from the ends. (Sec plate 35.) Occasionally a Convex Mirror was 
attached to the rods by means of brass scrolls, but this was the exception rather than 
the rule. The two legs repre.scntcd on same .sheet belong to Card or Side Tables. 
The carving on these, as on most of the Furniture of Sheraton's time, would be finely 
executed in dark Spanish mahogan>-, the tops of the articles, drawer fronts and 
panels, being generally relieved with bands of satinwood. From the numerous 
patterns of Glazed Cabinet and Bookcase Doors shown in the " Drawing Book " two 
have been .selected which are rather less common than the majority of patterns in 
general use. The figure on centre panel of left-hand door would be painted. 

Sheet 36 comprises a Bookcase Pediment, a small Cabinet (very light and 
graceful) a pretty Ladies' Writing Table and an Enclosed Work Table. All these 
articles, although simple in construction, show an intimate acquaintance, on the part 
of their designer, with the requirements of the people for whom they were intended. 
Sheraton, besides being a first-rate Cabinet-maker was also possessed of considerable 
mechanical talent. This is evidenced by the many ingenious arrangements described 
in his book for opening and closing washstand and writing-table tops and the 
cylinder fronts of writing-tables and the revolving and other apparatus for bookcases ; 
all of which were made objects of careful study and wrought out with much ingenuity 
by this conscientious old Cabinet-maker. It is the possession of the sound qualities 
we have mentioned, with the addition of a considerable amount of taste, that makes 
Sheraton Furniture still popular. It may not be attractive or showy at first sight 
but it improves on acquaintance and will bear close examination — the interior fittings 
being quite equal, in point of workmanship to the exterior. 

Among other characteristic articles in use at this time were the Knife Boxes. 
These were generally made in pairs and stood on the sideboards. Much care was 
often lavished on these small articles. It is not unusual to meet with them 
elaborately painted or inlaid and mounted with handsome ornamental lock plates. 

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 34, 35, 36— SHERATON. 

PLATE 

34. — Satinwood Writing Cabinet, Two Carved Chair Backs, and Cornice 
Mouldings. 

35. — Cornice of Bookcase, Two Table Legs, Inlaid Sideboard, Mahogany 
Vase, and Two Bookcase Doors. 

36. — Pediment for Bookcase or Wardrobe, Satinwood Cabinet, with Inlaid 
and Painted Panels, Small Satinwood Writing Table and Mahogany 
Work Table. 




24 




"ADAMS." 




EW Architects or Furniture designers have been gifted with sufficient 
originality to permanently identify their names with the styles they 
invented. Among the notable exceptions to this rule, are Chippendale, 
Sheraton, and Adams in England, and Boule in France. There certainly 
were the brothers Martin, who manufactured decorative Furniture in Paris 
in the latter half of the last century, and coated it with a very fine varnish similar 
in many respects to Japanese lacquer ; but their name can hardly be given to the 
Furniture itself It was more in connection with the finish of the surface that they 
displayed their skill and originality. " Vernis Martin Furniture " would not be so 
highly prized were it not for the taste displayed in its decoration. Figure subjects, 
and landscapes with figures " a la Watteau," were introduced in the panels and flat 
surfaces of the tables, commodes, etc., with charming effect on grounds possessing a 
metallic lustre, and the whole of the article was afterwards coated with a very hard 
lacquer which not only preserved the painting, but imparted an additional value to 
the enrichments. 

With Chippendale and Sheraton Furniture we are all tolerably familiar, owing to 
the numerous reproductions of old pieces by those celebrated makers, but with regard 
to "Adams" some uncertainty seems to prevail. This may partly be accounted for 
by reason of the scarcity of authentic designs for Furniture by Robert and James 
Adams accessible to the general public. It is true there are several sheets of 
Furniture included in the large Architectural work by Adams, but this book is so 
very costly, that it does not often come under the notice of Cabinet-makers. 

As the name is so often mentioned in connection with Architecture and Furnishing 
it may be interesting to those who are not acquainted with the history of the 
" Adelphi Brothers " to give a few particulars relating to their early career. 

Robert Adams, the most talented of the family, was born in Edinburgh in 1728. 
I le developed a taste for drawing at a very early age, and continued to cultivate it with 
a view to becoming a landscape artist. For this purpose he made a journey to Italy, 
and there is very little doubt that his sojourn in that country — so full of Architectural 
beauties — made a lasting impression on his mind and gave that bent to his genius 
which subsequently earned for him a well-descrvcd reputation. It was during his 
residence abroad that he conceived the idea of publishing a scries of reproductions of 



25 



D 



careful drawings made by himself of the ruins of the Emperor Diocletian's palace at 
Spalatio, a plan which he carried into effect on his return to England, and on 
completion of the book, which was far in advance of any Architectural work that 
had previously appeared in this country, he dedicated it to King George III. This 
at once established his reputation, and he was shortly after appointed Architect to 
his majesty. 

His industry must have been unflagging, for he not only erected mansions and 
public buildings all over the country and in Scotland, but designed the Decorations, 
Furniture, and even the carpets for the various apartments. He is best known to the 
present generation by the three magnificent volumes (" Works in Architecture ") 
published between 1778 and 1822; but these only contain a small portion of his 
designs. A large collection of original drawings by Robert and James Adams is 
preserved in the Library of Soane's Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where they have 
Iain many years in comparative obscurity. They were no doubt purchased by Sir 
John Soane, who was himself an architect of some note, shortly after Adams's death. 

Of James Adams, it may be said, that whatever merit he possessed may be 
attributed to the influence and example of his brother. It is quite certain that 
Robert Adams must have had a very large number of clever assistants, or he could 
never have carried out the enormous amount of work which he is known to have been 
directly responsible for. The strong individuality of the man is proved by the fact 
that the whole of the Architecture, Furniture, Silver Plate and even the domestic 
utensils of his time are stamped indelibly with the style he invented. Whatever 
its faults may be with regard to want of vigour and originality — it was undoubtedly 
an improvement on the class of work that preceded it. Its popularity, even at the 
present day says much in its favour, also the fact that it has always been a favourite 
style with people of refined tastes. 

A cursory glance at the Furniture Designs by Adams preser\'ed in Soane's 
Museum, is sufficient to show that he had a marked preference for colour as a method 
of Decoration for Cabinet work. Of the designs above mentioned, the majority 
are drawn to a large scale in pen and ink, and afterwards carefully finished in 
various tints. Nearly all of them are carried out in this way, the few remaining 
examples being gilt work. These remarks apply strictly to the Cabinet Furniture, 
not to the Girandoles, Glasses, Wall lights. Frames, etc., which were generally gilt, 
although even in these articles, colour was often introduced by him. The favourite 
details with Adams were the vase, with husks swags, delicate scrolls, fan-shaped 
ornaments, flutes and paterae and oval and circular medallions containing classical 
figures in the style of Angelica Kaufmann and Cipriani. The lines of his ornament 
are invariably graceful, although it is sometimes too attenuated for its position, but 
when the enrichment is sufficiently near the eye to be appreciated, no fault can 
be found. 

The few examples of "Adams Furniture" given on plates 37, 38, 39, are 
sufficient to show how much the effect depends on the painted enrichments. 
Constructively it is very simple, having been made so, apparently, in order to 
afford plenty of scope for the brush of the decorator who, it must be admitted, 
often gave considerable interest and beauty to articles which would otherwise 
have had only a plain and boxy appearance. The small Cabinet, half t)f which 
is shown on plate 37 would be absolutely uninteresting were it not for the 



26 



surface decorations on doors and frieze and the chair back on same sheet owes 
its attraction to the same appropriate treatment of its flat surfaces. The two Caps 
on plate 37 are not, strictly speaking, furniture details, but as they are likely to be 
useful to the Designer of interiors they have been introduced here. The larger of the 
two is especially good. It is intended to be executed in stone, but similar Caps to 
this are to be found of wood in " Adams " Chimney pieces. Many of the " Adams " 
Chimney pieces were mounted with composition and afterwards tinted. 

Plate 38 includes a bow-fronted satinwood Cabinet with painted panels, two 
window Cornices from the Soane Collection intended for treatment in colours ; the 
upper corner of a bookcase from the same source, and a portion of an overdoor from 
a house at the West End of London. The trellis-work in front of bookcase door 
is of brass. 

The examples on plate 39 are from the " Works in Architecture " above 
mentioned. The centre piece represents the upper portion of a carved and gilt 
console glass. The table legs, brackets, and pedestal are of carved wood also, 

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 37, 38, 39. 

PLATE 

37.— Painted Cabinet and Chair back, End of Seat, and two " Adams' " Caps. 

38. — Satinwood Painted Cabinet, two Cornices, Portion of Bookcase and Overdoor. 

39. — Top of Pier Glass, Carved Wood, four Legs, Pedestal and Brackets. 




27 



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"EMPIRE." 




HE old pieces of Furniture preserved in our Museums and public galleries 
are the most faithful records we possess of the habits and customs of 
bygone generations, and, as such, are of immense value to the historian, 
the antiquary, and the artist. In the few examples already given in 
this series, we can see in turn how the grandeur of Louis XlVth's time 
gradually degenerated into the extravagance and meaningless frivolity which 
characterised the reign of his successor, and how truer principles of art revived again 
in the graceful style of Louis Seize. Were it necessary to express the characteristics 
of the three reigns in equally few words, Grandeur, Frivolity, and Prettiness, (each 
evidenced in the Furniture) would with tolerable correctness describe them. 

We come now to a different style altogether. The selfish luxury of the nobility 
of France at the end of the eighteenth century, sustained through many weary years 
at the expense of the working classes, at last bore natural fruit in the horrors of a 
revolution. At the commencement of that frightful period, the genius of Art, terror 
stricken, spread her wings and flew away to more peaceful scenes, returning again 
only when the blood had dried up in the streets of Paris. But what a change had 
taken place during that brief absence ! Whereas formerly all was luxury, "abandon" 
and pleasure in its most polished and attractive guise, now everything was severe, 
emotionless, hard, and unnatural. It was then the Empire reaction had set in, and 
the excess of licence gave place to the excess of Austerity, in outward appearance at 
any rate. 

It was the " falsehood of extremes " in both instances, for neither the follies of 
the Louis Quinze regime, nor the severities of the Empire, truly represented the 
French nature, they only reflected popular feeling at two remarkable periods of the 
country's history. Similar waves of public sentiment have passed over this country, 
notably during the Commonwealth, and the reaction in an opposite direction in Charles 
the Second's time. 

To return to our immediate subject, viz.. Empire Furniture. This, like the Art 
and Manners of the time, was unnatural, from the fact that the designs for it were 
appropriated from others that had been invented by the Greeks and Romans under 
entirely different states of society, hundreds of years before. Chairs, Tables, Tripods, 
Couches, &c., were copied almost in facsimile from old Greek vases and wall decora- 
tions, and even the dress of the period had a severe classical appearance. To increase 



28 



the general " penchant " of the time for classic forms, David, an artist of considerable 
talent and influence, painted pictures in the modern-anti([ue fashion; and the designs 
Percier and Fontaine, Fragonard, fils, and others, still further fostered the taste, and 
crystallized the then chaotic state of ornamental design into something that could be 
denominated a Style, which despite its lack of originality — subsequently invaded 
Europe. It was in France, however, that the best examples were produced. Whatever 
may have been the sins of omission or commission that may be attributed to the 
Emperor Napoleon I., that of neglecting the Decorative arts, cannot be included ; for 
the French palaces and public buildings of the time bear ample evidence to the con- 
trary; being full of remains of this interesting epoch. It is not necessary, however, for 
Londoners who wish to gain an idea of " Empire " Furniture to go so far, as Madame 
Tussaud's Exhibition in Baker Street includes many fine specimens, also candelabra, 
paintings, &c. These were acquired, we believe, with other Napoleon relics, by the 
late Madame Tussaud, after Napoleon's final defeat early in the present century. 

As in all other French styles, " Empire " was closely imitated in this country. 
Its chief merit consists in the extreme nicety of finish exhibited in the metal work, 
which was very extensively used, both for the enrichment of furniture, and also for 
clocks, vases, candlesticks, inkstands, &c. As an example of finish, the metal work 
of this date is admirable, and the figures when introduced are generally well drawn, 
although they have the hardness peculiar to the time. 

It is impossible to have a better authority on " Empire " Furniture, than the 
book of designs published in Paris, by the architects, Percier and Fontaine, in 1809. 
This work is the recognised text-book of the period, and a great point in its favour is 
the fact that all the objects represented have been actually carried out, so that they 
are not mere exercises of fancy, as is often the case with publications of a similar 
character. Most of the examples of this style we have given on plates, 40, 41, and 42 
have been derived from the above work, and in justice to these able architects, we 
must mention, that in the preface to their Book, they disclaim all credit on the score 
of originality, and frankly admit they are indebted solely to the antique for their 
inspirations. 

This shows the modesty of true artists, which they certainly were ; and 
although their designs may not lay claim to novelty of detail, no unprejudiced 
person will be inclined to deny that considerable taste and ingenuity, and a vast 
amount of learned research was necessary in order to adapt the beautiful remains of 
antiquity to modern requirements. This they undoubtedly did in a masterly manner, 
and their productions, if nothing else, remain a mute but eloquent protest against the 
slovenly execution of much of the industrial art of the present day. All they did 
was carried out con anwre ; they were enthusiasts evidently, and bestowed the most 
careful attention on points of comparatively small importance. It is impossible to 
give a fair idea of the high finish of Empire Cabinet work in a small sketch. It 
must be seen to be properly appreciated. 

Plate 40 includes several tables, seats and chairs, in the above style. These 
would be made of dark mahoganj', with water-gilt metal mounts, finely chased. The 
commodes and centre table on plate 41, are from Percier and Fontaine's designs. 
The upper piece is described by them as having drawers enclosed with two doors, 
mounted with bronze and mother-o'-pearl. In the lower commode, the drawers 
come to the front. Both of these are very chaste in conception. The idea for the 



29 



centre table was derived from antique fragments of a similar article preserved in 
the museum of the Vatican. 

On plate 42 arc represented a candelabrum, a secretaire, a small work table, a 
" Table-de-nuit " or bedside pedestal, and an arm chair from the same source. The 
candelabrum is of wood, carved and gilt. The secretaire is described as being of 
various woods, mounted with bronze plaques. In the upper portion is a clock face, 
surrounded with the signs of the zodiac, and under it are secret drawers ; the cylinder 
when raised discloses the writing apparatus, and at each side arc chimerical figures 
supporting lights. 

The work-table and commode are also of wood with bronze mounts, and the 
chair would be made en suite. 

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 40, 41, 42.— " EMPIRE." 

PLATE 

40. — Four Tables, three Chairs and Stool. 

41. — Two Commodes and Circular centre Table. 

42. — Candelabrum, Secretaire, Work-table, Arm Chair, and Pedestal. 




30 




CHINESE. 




LTHOUGH the industrial arts were practised in China at a very early 
period, very little, if any, progress appears to have been made within 
our knowledge ; and, on the other hand, there seems to have been no 
perceptible deterioration in the quality of their work. The carving, 
the Furniture, the porcelain, and the embroidery recently executed will 
bear favourable comparison with that turned out a hundred, two hundred, or five 
hundred years ago — it is no better and no worse. The designs, even, of the various 
objects and patterns now in use are almost precisely similar to the older ones. To 
what are we to attribute this stationary position of the Arts, so unparalleled in 
history ? The only reasonable explanation is that the Chinese, as a nation, reached 
the limit of their artistic powers centuries ago, and, in the absence of all foreign 
intercourse whatever, they have exhausted their own ideas, and, instead of attempting 
to invent new types, they fall back on the time-honoured patterns that satisfied their 
ancestors. 

Chinese design shows very little invention. When the ornament is not of a 
simple geometrical character, it generally takes a floral form, interwoven or bound 
together with straight or fretted lines. The wood construction is of an equally 
primitive character, and can hardly be dignified with the appellation of style, as we 
understand it. The term is used for want of a better. Most of the examples on 
sheets 43 and 44 have been reproduced from Sir William Chambers' Chinese 
sketches, taken in Canton, and afterwards published in this country. They are 
authentic examples, and, although ancient, will give a very correct idea of the 
ordinary Furniture used in China at the present day, as a hundred odd years count 
for' very little in the Flowery Land. At the same time, we cannot do better than 
quote Sir William Chambers' own description of Chinese interiors, as seen by him 
during his sojourn in that interesting country. He says : " The moveables of the 
saloon consist of chairs, stools, and tables ; made sometimes of rosewood, ebony, or 
lacquered work, and sometimes of bamboo only, which is cheap, and, nevertheless, 
very neat. When the moveables are of wood, the seats of the stools are often of 
marble or porcelain, which, though hard to sit on, arc far from unpleasant in a 
climate where the summer heats arc excessive. In the corners of the rooms 
arc stands 4 or 5 feet high, on which they set plates of citrons, and other fragrant 
fruits, or branches of coral in vases of porcelain, and glass globes containing gold- 
fish, together with a certain weed somewhat resembling fennel ; on such tables as arc 



31 



intended for ornament only they also place little landscapes, composed of rocks, 
shrubs, and a kind of lily that grows among pebbles covered with water. Sometimes, 
also, they have artificial landscapes made of ivory, crystal, amber, pearls, and various 
stones. I have seen some of these that cost above 300 guineas, but they are at best 
mere baubles, and miserable imitations of nature. Besides these landscapes, they 
adorn their tables with several vases of porcelain, and little vessels of copper, which 
are held in great esteem. These are generally of simple and pleasing forms. The 
Chinese say they were made two thousand years ago by some of their celebrated 
artists and such as are real antiques (for there are many counterfeits) they buy at an 
extravagant price, giving sometimes no less than ;{^30O sterling for one of them. 

" The bedroom is divided from the saloon by a partition of folding doors, which, 
when the weather is hot, are in the night thrown open to admit the air. It is very 
small, and contains no other furniture than the bed, and some varnished chests in 
which they keep their apparel. The beds are very magnificent ; the bedsteads are 
made much like ours in Europe — of rosewood, carved, or lacquered work ; the 
curtains are of taffeta or gauze, sometimes flowered with gold, and commonly either 
blue or purple. About the top a slip of white satin, a foot in breadth, runs all round, 
on which are painted, in panels, different figures — flower pieces, landscapes, and 
conversation pieces, interspersed with moral sentences and fables written in Indian 
ink and vermilion." 

Our readers will recognise many of the articles here described on sheets 43 and 
44 of this series. 

Wood being the principal material used by the Chinese in their architecture as 
well as their Furniture, it is not surprising that they should have attained consider- 
able skill in its manipulation. The houses, temples, porticoes, and bridges, are 
chiefly of timber, sometimes very ornately carved. As a rule the harder descriptions 
of wood are selected for furniture, such as harewood, ebony, or teak ; bamboo and 
cane being used for the lighter articles. The Chinese have always been very partial 
to perforated work (fretwork, as we now call it) ; they also frequently introduce in 
the panels of the Furniture and Chair-backs, intricate and fantastically-carved open 
work patterns. 

The beauty of Chinese and Japanese lacquer is universally known. It is used as 
a finish for every description of wood construction by the natives of both those 
countries ; and although many attempts have been made to discover the secret of its 
manufacture and application, hitherto all such experiments have failed. The Chinese 
style has been popular in Europe, off and on, for nearly two hundred years ; and it 
will always have a certain number of admirers, on account of its quaintness and 
individuality. 

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 43 and 44.— CHINESE. 

PLATE 

43. — Two Pedestals, Seat, Portion of Bedstead, Corners of two Tables, Fret-cut 
Panels, and Carved Stand. 

44. — Bamboo Chair, Portion of Settee, three Tables, Pedestal, and Fret Patterns. 



32 




JAPANESE. 




HE enormous importation of Japanese goods into England during the 
last few years, has resulted in a very general knowledge of the Arts of 
that interesting country. Lacquered Cabinets, Trays, Screens, Nests of 
Drawers, Fans, Lanterns, China and Ornamental Bronzes, of more or less 
good design and colouring, are to be met with all over the country, and 
the wonder is that a territory of such comparatively small dimensions, should, after 
retaining sufficient for its own requirements, be able to export such an enormous 
quantity of artistic objects to Europe and America. Much has been written of the 
Art instincts of the Japanese. Judging from what is to be seen in London alone, 
their fine perception of form and eye for colour, have not been in the least over-rated. 
A want of appreciation for Art must, in Japan, be the exception rather than the rule. 
It needs only a cursory glance at any group of Japanese objects, to become impressed 
with the fact that they are patient and faithful admirers of Nature in all its phases. 
Their studies of flowers, birds on the wing and in every conceivable position, fish, and 
even insects, are simply marvellous ; but Japanese Art is a topic on which so much 
has been written, and on which one could enthusiastically enlarge to such an extent 
that I am compelled, owing to the limited scope of these descriptive papers, to restrict 
myself to the consideration of Japanese Furniture and Woodwork, with which we are 
more immediately concerned. 

The Japanese style, although possessing many points of resemblance to the 
Chinese, is if anything, more eccentric, and the decorative portions are less conven- 
tional. Of old Japanese Furniture, there is very little. Chairs appear to have been 
considered unnecessary until quite lately, the people generally preferring to sit on 
the floor ; consequently high tables were also of very little use. Now, however, as 
they have adopted that crowning triumph of civilization, the " stove pipe " hat, they 
will no doubt also begin to use chairs; for a venerable Japanese official seated on the 
floor with a high hat on would certainly fail to impress beholders with the same 
sense of reverence as if that dignitary were seated on a chair. 

For the convenience of those occupying the lowly position we have described, 
small tables or .stands varying from 9 to i8 inches in height are provided. Three of 
these are represented on plate 45. These would be made of ebony or lacquered. The 
small cabinet at top of sheet, though only one of the ordinary articles produced for 
export, has many features deserving attention. Such comparatively unimportant 
details as hinges, lock plates, and mounts, are here wrought out with much care and 



33 



£ 



taste, forming in themselves the chief decorative portions of the cabinet. Three of 
these mounts are represented enlarged to nearly full size. The centre of screen on 
same sheet is formed of jointed wood, and the birds and flowers in side compartments 
are produced by piercing a thin panel with a fine saw or chisel. Of Japanese Screens 
there are endless varieties, varying as much in design as in pecuniary value. It is 
possible to get a very pretty and serviceable three-fold screen, hand-painted, for about 
25s., and some of them fetch as much as ^1,000 each. 

They are sometimes filled with embroidered silk panels, and they are also carved 
and inlaid with mother-o'-pearl and various coloured stones, lacquered, painted, and 
incised. 

There is one fact which cannot fail to impress itself on those who are acquainted 
with the Furniture of the Japanese, viz. : that although the articles may vary to an 
almost unlimited extent in costliness of material and elaboration of detail, the general 
types of construction remain the same. The Cabinets or Screens costing a few 
shillings are of the same build as those costing many pounds. This is not the case 
with European Furniture. Like the Chinese — the Japanese have been until the 
present century a conservative nation, but with the spread of European culture and 
the adoption of English institutions, there has arisen a desire to imitate European 
models and graft on them the native decorations of the country, the result being a 
hybrid production, devoid of artistic merit. This course, if persisted in, will be 
disastrous in the extreme and fatal to the Arts of Japan. 

Sheet 46 contains a small lacquered open Cabinet, a low stand of carved wood, 
a Nest of Drawers with arrangement on top, apparently intended for the uses of the 
toilet, which by the way is often performed on the floor ; a lacquered Cabinet, mounted 
with small china placques and the usual elaborate key plates, hinges, &c., and two 
carved paterae. 

Bamboo, Cane, Coloured Stones, Pearl, and Metals of every description are 
pressed into service by the Japanese Cabinet-makers. Nothing comes amiss to them 
and the different substances are generally introduced in those positions where the 
most original and appropriate effects will be produced. For instance, coloured stones 
are selected to represent the various tints of flowers and leaves and the feathers 
on the wings of birds, fruit, vegetables, &c. Pearl is used for imitating shells and 
water, and gold and silver for other objects. The large Cabinet at top of sheet 47 
has been sketched from one in the South Kensington Museum. It is formed of 
matted cane on a foundation of wood, the base being of wood, carved and coloured 
red. 

The flowers and other ornaments are of coloured cane. This cabinet is about 
7-ft. hio-h, and 6-ft. 6-in. wide. The small table on same sheet is of ebonized wood, 
and the panels at sides are inlaid. 

DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 45, 46, 47— JAPANESE. 

PLATE 

45. — Lacquered Cabinet, with White Metal Mounts, Perforated Screen, 

Three Small Tables, and Carved Panel. 
46. — Four-Tier Table, Dressing Box, Carved Stand, Lacquered Cabinet, with 

China Placques in Panels, Two Carved Paterae. 
47. — Cabinet of Matted Cane, Ebony Table, and Two Inlaid Panels. 



34 



ARABIAN. 




HE earliest specimens of Arabian Architecture were founded on the Roman 
and Byzantine buildings which they displaced. The general forms and 
proportions of the earlier structures were, to a limited extent, retained, 
and the ornamental details were adapted by the Arabs to the new 
conditions of life and religion. Traces of the Byzantine influence may 
be readily observed in early Arabian work ; but, as the style developed, the original 
" motifs " entirely disappear. 

Specimens of Arabian Furniture are not common. This is partly owing 
to the scarcity of wood in that part of Asia and also to the fact that 
comparatively few articles are considered necessary in the furnishing of an Arab 
apartment. Of constructive wood-work in the shape of Screens, Doors, Projecting 
Windows and Balustrades, there are endless examples, both in Arabia and in this 
country, a demand having sprung up during the last few years for " Cairene " 
fitments which has been promptly met by the native craftsmen. 

The Arabs have always been particularly clever at the elaborate interlacing of 
mouldings in the form of Panels of various geometrical designs. Some of their 
exterior and interior doors of this description are marvels of construction. They are 
also very partial to Lattice Work made up of small turned spindles and cubes of 
wood. (See plates 48 and 49). 

Arab Furniture consists chiefly of comfortable Seats or Divans, generally 
ranged round the room, Wooden Benches with open-work backs and foot rests (such 
as are shown on plate 48), Octagon or Round Tables, sometimes carved and inlaid, 
and fixed or hanging Cabinets with a variety of little openings for ornaments. These 
Cabinets are often painted and decorated in gold and colours. 

The portion of interior balcony at top left-hand corner of plate 48 has been 
taken from the sumptuous work by M. Prisse d'Avennes, entitled " LArt Arabe," a 
book that should be studied by everyone who wishes to gain a thorough knowledge 
of Arabian Art. The seat with cushions on same sheet is from a Barber's Shop, 
after Coste, restored. On plate 49 arc .shown a portion of a Projecting Balcony from 
Cairo, dating from the seventeenth century, at present fixed in one of the Furniture 
Courts at South Kensington Museum, a Panelled and Painted Door from the same 



35 



source, a Battlcmcnted Ornament from the work of M. Prisse d'Avennes, already 
alluded to, and a Small Octagon Table and Two Caps from other sources. 

The somewhat elaborate specimen of Cabinet-work represented at top of page 
50 is a portion of the back of a throne or scat, similar to those used by the Arabs, 
according to the authority of M. d'Avennes, in their sleeping apartments. The 
upper portion of this seat is surmounted with a canopy and there is a foot-stool 
attached to the lower part, similar to the- one shown on plate 48. The enrichments 
on this seat consist of mother-o'-pearl and ivory. The Small Cabinet shown below 
(page 50) is a very interesting example of the class of painted Furniture previously 
mentioned. Although fitted Cabinets of a similar design are not uncommon, 
separate pieces are very rarely met with. The decorations on this Cabinet are 
executed in gold and colours, but unfortunately, owing to the nature of the pigments 
used or from some other cause, portions of the beautiful Arabesque ornamentations 
are peeling off. The Cabinet from which the sketch was taken is in the collection of 
a gentleman at Bayswater. 



DESCRIPTION OF PLATES 48, 49, 50— ARABIAN. 

PLATE 

48. — Interior Balcony, Two Window Heads, Fitted Seat, Seat with Footstool, 
Arabesque Ornament, Fret Patterns. 

49. — Portion of Balcony, Panelled Door, Two Caps, Small Table, and 
Ornamental Details. 

50. — Back of Seat, inlaid with Mother-o'- Pearl and Ivory, Small Painted 
and Gilt Cabinet, Two Borders. 




36 





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