The Advent of the Neoclassical Furniture
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The Advent of the Neoclassical Furniture

The era of Neoclassicism in furniture denotes the time when the movement that favoured the ancient Greco-Roman designs to the rococo and the Renaissance furniture was in operation.

The era of Neoclassicism in furniture denotes the time when the movement that favoured the ancient Greco-Roman designs to the rococo and the Renaissance furniture was in operation. This was the period when some designers advocated a return to old designs from Greek and the Roman furniture. The rococo and other designs of that time lacked the architectural ornamentation of the Greek and Roman furniture, so the Neoclassical designers re introduced the use of ornamentation into their new design. The design was generally accepted especially in Europe where people were beginning to get tired of the busy designs of the rococo furniture.

There are arguments among scholars of neoclassicism as to who was the first to design neoclassical furniture. The disagreement has persisted over the years without a consensus but there are two schools of thoughts about the origin of neoclassical furniture. Some believe that neoclassical design was first introduced by the English architect, Robert Adam in about 1760, but another school of thought also believed that in France, there was a collection by La Live de Jully in Paris used to furnish a room ‘a la grecque’ at about the same time. Neoclassicism was the first conscious effort to revive a style instead of coping the rudiments of the old styles to achieve new designs.

French Neoclassicism

The first stage of Neoclassicism in France was called the Louis XVI style whose reign began in 1774. Unlike the rococo with complicated and delicate structures, the neoclassic furniture shapes were simple and geometric, some rectangular, circular or oval forms resting on straight, tapering legs that were either square or round in cross section. Beautiful and well arranged fabric, wreath of choice flowers, decorations with medals and pendants, Corinthian moldings and other architectural ornamentations were widely used by the French to establish their neoclassical furniture style.

The English Neoclassicism

During this time, the English furniture which was totally based on the replication of rococo designs with paints enjoyed great revival as they began to embrace the use of ornaments. Neoclassical designs in England were inspired, encouraged and propagated by two British cabinet makers: George Hepplewhite and Thomas Sheraton. In his posthumously published ‘Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide’ of 1788, Hepplewhite propagated the adaptation of some French designs to the British’s to produce a neoclassical effect on the furniture. Thomas Sheraton in his book ‘The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book’ which was published in parts; in 1791 and the complete book in 1802, propagated more literally classical designs. Hence, the Hepplewhite style and the Sheraton style were their individual contributions to neoclassical furniture designs.

Picture in box by socrate on flickr

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Comments (3)

You have enlightened me regarding Neoclassical furnitings.

a great lesson in furniture and design

Thank you Rae for the encouragement. Thanks Brenda.