Tuesday, 15 November 2011

17th Century Furniture - The Complete Series

During the 17th century - successive Popes commissioned architects and artists to build magnificent new buildings and monuments in Rome - to complete the redevelopment of the city. New churches were erected, palazzos rebuilt and fountains and statues constructed  - creating a dynamic symbol of the power and wealth of the Catholic Church.
This theatrical sculptural expression of grandeur and luxury was expressed in architecture, paintings, the decorative arts and also in music - and became known as the Baroque style. Rulers and artists came from all over Europe to admire the city and its works of art and handmade furniture, then returned to their own countries where they created their own interpretations of the new, anti-Classic style.
Spain, Portugal and Germany were strongly influenced by the Baroque style, but in northern countries, such as the Low Countries and England, the style was quieter and more restrained.

Castle Howard

Expansion Of Trade
At the beginning of the 17th century, profitable trading companies were established by the Dutch and also the British, opening up new markets in the Far East and creating colonies. European rulers sought exotic foreign treasures, now antique furniture, to display in their palaces, and the resulting increase in trade led to the establishment of a wealthy and powerful merchant class, which lavished vast sums of money on substantial residences to ensure that they were in keeping with the latest fashions.
Inspired by the influx of exotic materials, craftsmen created flamboyant new designs, mainly for the courts of Europe.

The Sovereign State
During the first part of the 17th century - Europe was divided by the bloodshed and by the middle of the century many countries had gained independence from their former rulers.
The treaty of Westphalia in 1648 brought an end to the long war between Spain and the Low Countries and ended the German phase of the Thirty years' War.
The Dutch republic was officially recognized, as was the Swiss Confederation, and around 350 German princes were granted sovereignty. The Holy Roman Emperor was left with diminished power.
This recognition of absolute sovereignty for territories changed the balance of power in Europe. As countries gained independence, rulers and artists worked to forge their own national identities.

Absolute Power
Louis XIV personified the concept of absolute power - when he became the King of France in 1661, he moved his court to the palace of Versailles and embarked on an ambitious plan to glorify France and his monarchy through art and design.
He ruled as an absolute monarch, and the grandeur of his monarchy inspired other European rulers. Versailles came to symbolize Louis XIV's authority in matters of art - and France became the principal producer of luxury fitted furniture and other objects.
In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had granted tolerance to Protestants in France. As a result, many skilled artists and craftsmen fled the country for the protection of the Low Countries - Germany, England and eventually North America.
French trained artisans thus worked for monarchs in other countries, ensuring the dissemination of elaborate French design throughout Europe by the end of the century.

Baroque Furniture
Two quite different types of furniture were made during the 17th century - formal furniture, now antique furniture for staterooms and palaces, and simpler pieces intended for domestic use.
Traditionally the aristocracy had moved from one home to another, according to the seasons, but now residences became more permanent. Furniture no longer had to be portable, and substantial pieces were designed for specific rooms. Interiors were very formal and people began to consider rooms as integrated interiors when commissioning furniture. As well as grand salons, wealthy homes had more intimate private rooms that required smaller pieces of furniture.

Lavish Style
At the beginning of the century, the Italian Baroque style was dominant in much of Europe. Baroque furniture and fitted furniture was designed on a grand scale and intended to impress.
Pieces were architectural in form, with dramatically carved sculptural elements and lavish decoration, which drew on Classical or Renaissance style motifs.
As the century progressed, trade, especially with the Far East, provided furniture makers with a wealth of exotic new materials - including tortoiseshell, mother of pearl, ebony and rosewood.
Furniture was imported from other countries including lacquerware from the Far East and caned furniture from India - European craftsmen created their own versions.

Key Pieces
Most grand formal rooms had a console, or side table, intended almost purely for display. The finest examples had pietra dura tops and carved and gilded sculptural bases.
Advances in glass making meant that larger mirrors could be made, and it was fashionable to place a matching mirror above each console table in a room. The design elements of the mirrors and tables were repeated in the architectural features of the room, such as door architraves, windows, and fireplace surrounds, creating an integrated sense of design.
Pairs of girandoles or candlestands were placed in front of mirrors so that their light was reflected in them - illuminating rooms that would otherwise have been dark.
The largest chairs were still reserved for the most important people. Chairs with high backs, sometimes upholstered for greater comfort, were highly desirable.
Wing chairs were first used in France in the middle of the century, a precursor to the bergere. The armchair shape was extended to create the sofa or settee. In 1620 an upholstered settee was commissioned for the great house of Knole, in Kent. This settee had a padded seat and back, held in position by ties on the posts. The design is still known as the Knole settee.
Silks and velvets, usually made in Italy, were phenomenally expensive - only royalty and the wealthiest aristocracy were able to afford upholstered handmade furniture.
Cane, imported from India by Dutch traders became popular as it provided a less expensive method of covering chair backs and seats.

The Age Of the Cabinet
Replacing the carved buffet popular in the previous century, the cabinet - or cabinet on stand - became a real object of desire in households who were wealthy. Cabinets were primarily intended for display purposes, a response to the new passion for collecting among the wealthy, and the need to house all the rare and wonderful objects that they had acquired.
Rather than just a repository for special collections, however, the cabinet itself became a show piece, as skilled craftsmen created large and much more grand scale versions that were works of art in their own right, using precious materials, rare panels of pietra dura, lacquer panels from the Orient, and veneers of ebony and ivory were all incorporated into architecturally inspired cabinets. This was the ultimate expression of wealth!


Decorative Elements
The wealthiest patrons commissioned handmade furniture, pietra dura tabletops or panels for their cabinets. It was also fashionable to insert exotic and patterned lacquer panels from Japanese or Chinese cabinets into European furniture, now reproduction furniture.
This was, however, prohibitively expensive, so innovative craftsmen developed their own methods of imitating lacquerwork, such as Japanning.
As well as actual lacquered objects, a fashion developed for Oriental scenes - known as Chinoiserie.
Cabinet makers became very skilled at veneering, using exotic hardwoods and inlays. The Low Countries, in particular, produced exquisite floral marquetry.
French boullework created a sumptuous decorative veneer for tables and cabinets using detailed brass and tortoiseshell marquetry.


By the end of the century, French fitted furniture design was highly influential. Louis XIV's palace at Versailles set the style for the fashionable world. Changes in furniture style were keenly watched and interpreted by craftsmen in Britain and the rest of Europe. The finest French pieces - such as tapestries from the Gobelins workshops or cabinets by Boulle - were highly sought after in the grand homes of the very wealthy.

Elements Of Style
The Baroque style used very elaborate decoration and precious materials to create spectacular displays of the owners wealth. Chairs, Tables and Cabinets were embellished with ornate carving, gilding and finely detailed marquetry.
Rich colours, fine tapestries, marble and semi-precious stones, set in scrolling designs, or arabesques, contributed to the sense of status and drama.

Carved Chair
The elaborately pierced splat of this English side chair, non fitted furniture, shows the influence of the engraved designs of Daniel Marot. This piece shows the exquisite wood carving skills demanded of the carvers of the era.
The florid pattern and tall, formal shape are typical of the grandiose Baroque style.

A factory-made Daniel Marot style side chair

Gilt Gesso
Originating in Italy, gilt gesso became really fashionable in England and in France. A design would be carved in wood, then coated with layers of gesso - a mixture of glue and powdered chalk. 
Once the gesso had hardened, the design was re-carved and gilded. This technique was used to decorate mirrors, tables and chests.

Turned Wood
Created by applying cutting tools to a rotating wooden surface, turned wood was a popular feature of the vernacular handmade furniture of the period, such as the heavy oak baluster of this colonial court cupboard.
Turned wood was also seen on posts, legs, and rungs. As the century progressed, these turnings became less heavy in appearance and more columnar.

17th Century Oak Court Cupboar

Verre Eglomise
This technique imitated the sumptuous effect of gilded glass, and was quite often used to decorate mirrors. The design was actually painted on the underside of the glass, rather than on the front.
The glass was prepared using the base of egg white and water and then gilded. Once dry, the design was engraved into the gilding before the surface was painted.

The practice of arranging small pieces of veneer into an intricate design became a speciality of the century, particularly in the Low Countries, and was very much sought after.
Veneers were made of exotic woods such as mahogany and also native fruitwoods, including plum and cherry. The veneers were used in their natural colours or stained in bright shades.

Image no. 63560

Silver Furniture
Owning silver furniture epitomized the phenomenal wealth of the privileged few. The exuberant Louis XIV of France ordered suites of solid silver furniture to furnish his palace at Versailles.
Other rulers, such as Charles II of England, imitated this lavish display of wealth withwooden furniture pieces covered with thin sheets of silver.

Silver Dining Set (Silver Furniture) (Серебро Dining Set (серебро мебели))

Pietra Dura
Pietra dura literally means 'Hard Stone'. Pieces of highly polished coloured stones, such as marble or lapis lazuli.
This technique originated in Florence and was mainly used to decorate table tops and also cabinet panels.
The designs could be formal or naturalistic, and commonly featured flowers, birds, animals or landscapes.

Drop-Ring Handles
The brass drawer pull is typical of the type found on 17th century fitted and non fitted furniture. Although the level of carving varied from simple circles to florid swags, the basic design of the drop-ring was found on both simple cabinet drawers and ornate pieces that were really designed for the finest residences.
Brass was popular for all furniture detailing at the time.

Emblem Of Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France (r.1661 - 1715) was renowned from the brilliance and theatricality of his court at Versailles.
Known as the Sun King, his personal emblem was a sun with rays of streaming light, echoing Apollo, the Greek god of light. This motif was used to decorate many pieces of, now antique furniture, and architectural features used at the court.


The process of Japanning used layers of varnish or shellac to imitate the Oriental lacquerwork that was coveted during the 17th century.
True Japanese and Chinese lacquerwork was difficult and expensive to obtain - so Japanning was really developed by European artisans, who used the technique to decorate the wood and metal of cabinets, screens and mirrors in the then fashionable style.

Ormolu Mounts
This term, from the French or moulu, meaning 'Ground Gold', describes the technique of gilding with bronze using mercury. Decorative details were cast in bronze then gilded with mercury before being mounted onto handmade furniture.
Ormolu mounts were quite often used to protect the edges of veneered pieces. In cheaper imitations the bronze was cast, finished and then lacquered.

Boulle-work commode

Country houses and palaces across Europe used tapestries for their decoration, using them both to cover walls and to upholster chairs. Woven with wool and silk or linen, they were usually pictorial in design.
Many tapestries originated from the Low Countries, in particular Brussels, Paris and also England. In Paris the Gobelins workshops produced designs for Versailles.

Bayeux tapestry

This form of marquetry is named after the French cabinet maker Andre' Charles Boulle, who was arguably it's finest exponent.
Boullework combines materials like an intricate jigsaw - using materials such as brass, ebonized wood, ivory and tortoiseshell to create the effect of a painting in marquetry. Brass on a tortoiseshell ground is a popular combination.

Boulle French drawer being restored

Carved Wood
Wood carving became a specialized skill during the 17th century. Elaborate designs decorated chairs, chests and tables. Low relief carving, such as the stylized flower motif was used to decorate hardwoods, such as Oak.
Softer woods allowed carvers to create more detailed patterns, such as those seen on French and Italian furniture.

17th century Italian carved wood panel profile with funny hat

By the early 17th century - Rome was once again the seat of powerful Papacy and entered a period of unprecedented prosperity.
Architects, Artists and Sculptors all really wanted to create a great city that reflected the glory of the Catholic Church, creating new buildings, paintings and monuments on a grand scale.
The aristocracy instigated huge building schemes, creating palazzos that became renowned throughout Europe for their ornate displays of wealth.
The influence of Rome spread throughout the Italian cities - turning the country into the fountainhead of the Baroque movement.

Grand Furniture
The new architectural grandeur demanded extremely impressive furnishings. Formal 17th century Italian furniture, now antique furniture, was sculptural and architectural - it was grand in scale and featured three dimensional carvings of foliage and human figures that were heavily influenced by sculpture.
The makers of opulent palace furniture were quite often sculptors by training rather than cabinet makers, and this had a profound effect on the development of the Baroque style.

In the state apartments and galleries of palazzos, very sumptuous sculptural furniture - such as grand console tables and cabinets, were displayed alongside ancient sculptures, and were regarded in much the same light, as works of art to be looked at rather than used.
The stippone - or great cabinet - was mainly produced in the Grand Ducal Workshops in Florence. Thought to have been derived from the Augsburg cabinet, it was architectural in appearance and in scale and had various small drawers for housing small collections.
Cabinets were embellished with very costly materials, such as gilt bronze and ebony. Around 1667, Leonardo van der Vinne, who was a cabinet maker from the Low Countries, became the director of cabinet makers at the Grand Ducal Workshops and may have introduced floral marquetry techniques.
Stateroom furniture also included console tables with huge marble tops and pietra dura inlays, with heavily carved gilt bases, often with the features of human figures or foliage.
Chairs often had high backs and were frequently upholstered with rich materials, such as velvets and fine silks made in the city of Genoa.

Skip the Line Private Tour: Vatican Museums and St Peter's Art History Walking Tour

The Age Of Learning
With all the new buildings and the interest in humanist learning, many wealthy patrons now had important libraries, this required a new form of fitted furniture - built in bookcases.
Influenced again by architecture, these bookcases often had pilasters or columns - and sometimes features statues of carved urns on the cornice.

Grand Beds
Late 17th century Italian beds were really an expression of the upholsterers art, making use of the fine textiles that were locally produced - usually no wood at all was visible.
A tester who was often draped in silk or damask, would be supported from above the head, and upholstered panels surrounded the mattress. This type of bed remained very popular until the end of the 18th century so it is difficult to date them with any certainty.

Eastern Influences
The Venetians were producing lacquered furniture - a skill that local craftsmen learned through the cities trading links with the East.
Green and gold lacquer became a speciality of Venice until the 18th century. Good quality wood was not available locally, which would explain the popularity of techniques such as lacquering, which covers the surface of the wood completely, allowing the craftsmen to make the most out of the materials they had available to them at the time.

Vernacular Styles
In Italy there was a tremendous difference between the furniture made for daily use in the ordinary rooms of a palazzo or villa and that on display in the state apartments.
Utilitarian handmade furniture, such as x-framed chairs, stools, cassone (chests) and tables were made by carpenters or joiners - using local fruitwood or walnut.

Gilded Frame
This gilded, carved picture frame depicts the legend of Paris. The maker was Filippo Parodi, who was perhaps the best known Genoese carver of the late 17th century, and he worked in Bernini's studio.
As well as the sculptural style figures, the frame also includes foliage and shell motifs, which were very popular throughout the 17th century. The portrait is by Pierre Mignard and shows Maria Mancini.

Walnut Armorial Cassone
The raised lid is carved with a design of beads, leaves and a fish scale type pattern, while the front and ends of the cassone (chest) retain mannerist features typical of the Renaissance period - strapwork decoration and segmented panels.
The cassone stands on paw feet and bears the coat of arms of the Guicciardini family from Florence. These chests were quite often given as wedding presents.

Andrea Brustolon
Renowned for fantastic carved furniture, Andrea Brusolon (1662-1732) was a pupil of the Genoese sculptor Filippo Parodi.
Originally trained as a stone carver, Brustolon took up wood carving and created many different types of fitted and non fitted furniture, ranging from frames, to stands and to tables. He is best known really for his extravagantly carved chairs, which were designed more as works of art than as comfortable seating.
Few pieces have survived today, but several of his drawings have. It is likely that Brustolon travelled to Rome during his apprenticeship. In keeping with the Roman style of the time, Brustolon's furniture is naturalistic and quite often allegorical, with figural supports, exuberant foliage and animals.
Parodi's influence is very evident.

Florentine Console Table
This table would have been made of carved and gilded wood, the top is supported by kneeling mythological figures known as harpies.
The figures are muscular, in keeping with the bold, masculine Baroque style. The theme is borrowed from contemporary Roman designs - although these harpies are more restrained than examples from Rome.

Florentine Cabinet
This cabinet, produced in the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence, is decorated with pietra dura panels depicting mythological scenes.
The architectural influence on Italian Baroque handmade furniture design can be seen in the use of pilasters, arched panels, and pediments - in the structural form of the piece. Mythology was an extremely common theme for decoration, and the meanings would have been widely understood.

Walnut Table
The octagonal table top rests on triform supports, which terminate in male terms (stylized human figures) carved with scrolling foliage - on paw feet.
The top of the supports have a square panel centred by a wine glass and an illegible inscription.

Lion Commode
The commode is made of walnut with exquisite inlays of ivory and mother of pearl, this depicts images of vanity, justice and other allegorical figures, surrounded by putti, flowers, leaves, cartouches and volutes.
The sides are sloped and decorated with inlay and gilding. The front of the commode is bow shaped and has three drawers and iron fittings.

Maison Jansen Chinoisere French Lacquered Commode

Pietra Dura & Scagliola
Florentine handmade furniture - table tops and cabinet panels inlaid with richly coloured, semi-precious stones were highly coveted by wealthy patrons during the 17th century.

Pietra Dura (hard stone) involves making a mosaic of hard or semi-precious stones. The manufacture of Pietra Dura was just one of the trades that supplied furniture makers from the Renaissance. Scagliola created a similar effect at much less of a cost.
Originating in Italy, the full name - Commesso  di pietra dura - describes stones that are fitted together so closely that the joins are invisible. The mosaic is glued to a slate base for stability. The elaborate process of creating pictures from stone has remained the same for centuries.
Pietra dura was used for table tops and provided a good contrast with the gilt console bases that were typical of the time. The rich colours and floral or naturalistic pictures not only displayed the expensive materials - the dedicated craftsmanship required to complete such work was admired and coveted by royal and aristocratic patrons.

The very finest workshops produced pietra dura in teams. An artist or sculptor would prepare the design, then other craftsmen chose the stones and after polishing them would cut them into fine slices.
Tracings of the design were used to cut the stones into the right shapes and these were then, very carefully, glued and pieced together in position on a base. If the design was particularly delicate, it would be lined with slate. Finally the stones would be polished with abrasive powders.

The Grand Ducal Workshops
These Florentine workshops, situated in the galleries of the Uffizi Palace, were pre-eminent in developing pietra dura furnishings. Other workshops sometimes poached Florentine artisans so that they could teach their skills elsewhere.
In 1588, Ferdinand I de'Medici made them the Court workshop, making fitted and nonfitted furniture as well as mosaics.
The works were commissioned for the Grand Duke's residences as well as for important European families. Products ranged from cabinets and table tops to boxes and architectural features. 
Henry IV and Louis XIII of France established their own royal workshops under the Louvre Palace in Paris.

Florentine Cabinet
This wooden cabinet, now antique furniture, produced at the Grand Ducal Workshops in Florence, has pietra dura panels depicting mythological scenes. The architectural influence on Italian Baroque handmade furniture design can be seen in the structural form of the piece.

Scagliola is false marble. The first documented examples of it appeared at the end of the 17th century in Germany and in Italy.
Pietra dura panels and table tops, for fitted and non fitted furniture, especially those from the Grand Ducal Workshops in Florence, were prohibitively expensive, so much less wealthy patrons were very keen to find an alternative and commissioned craftsmen to create an imitation - Scagliola.

The Technique
Scagliola is produced by grinding the mineral selenite into a powder and mixing it with coloured pigments and animal glue to produce a plaster like substance. As with pietra dura, a drawing is transferred to a stone slab upon which it is engraved.
Unlike marquetry or pietra dura, which are both inlaid, the liquid scagliola is poured into the engraved hollows in the stone, then left to set.
Additional effects, such as veining or different colour variations, are achieved by adding chips of marble, granite, alabaster, porphyry or other stones to the mixture, or by engraving and filling the hardened plaster a second time. Once the plaster has finally hardened, it is polished with linseed oil to create the desired finish.

Low Countries
During the first half of the 17th century, the northern provinces became a major maritime power. The city of Amsterdam grew prosperous, and the influx of exotic goods and materials brought from the Far East by the Dutch East India Company made this city a real haven for artists and craftsmen.
Traditional manufacturers flourished in the southern Netherlands, which at the time was still under Spanish Hapsburg rule. Flemish craftsmen were known in particular for their luxurious tapestries, stamped or gilt leather and weavings, used for both upholstery and wall hangings.

Popular Styles
Early 17th century furniture, now antique furniture, from the Low Countries was generally quite simple, although more elaborate pieces were made for wealthy patrons. For much of the century, the four-door court cupboard was the most important piece of furniture in wealthy homes. Usually made of Oak and often decorated with intricately carved figures, or intarsia panels depicting architectural scenes.
Walnut then became the timber of choice after 1660 and was quite often embellished with inlays or exotic veneered panels. In Holland, the 'arched' cupboard with two long panelled doors remained fashionable.

Luxurious Cabinets
As in Italy, the Augsburg cabinet was influential. Early in the century, Flemish craftsmen in Antwerp made small table cabinets veneered with imported ebony, they also begun to use new and exotic imports as veneers - perhaps influenced by the Northern Provinces' trade with the East.
Table cabinets then gave way to 'cabinets on stands', decorated with ebony, mother of pearl and tortoiseshell veneers. Cabinets later had carved stands with legs made from gilded caryatids or ebonized wood - this can be seen today with reproduction furniture.
Later in the century, craftsmen such as Jan van MeKeren, a cabinet maker in Amsterdam, decorated large cabinets on stands and tables with intricate floral marquetry, inspired by the still life floral paintings that were popular at the time.
The contrasting colours of ebony from Madagascar, purple amaranth from Guyana, rosewood from Brazil and sandalwood from India were combined to create marquetry of consummate skill. Exported to France and then England - these cabinets provided inspiration for cabinet makers there, who developed their own styles of veneering.

Everyday Pieces
Floral marquetry was not just used to embellish cabinets - side tables were often decorated in the same way. More typical of the Low Countries, however, were tables and cupboards decorated with a wealth of naturalistic carving.
Chests of drawers were often made of oak, polished or stained to resemble ebony. Ebony or stained pearwood was used for mouldings.
Chairs tended to be rectangular with low or high backs. Usually made of walnut and upholstered in leather, cloth or velvet with brass studs.
As the century advanced, inspired by imports from India, chair seats and backs were made of cane.
The legs were linked by stretchers. The artist Crispin van den Passe's Boutique Menuiserie, published in Amsterdam in 1642, showed elements of Mannerism in chair design, but it also included simpler chairs with straight backs, double stretchers, and carved arms terminating in dolphins.

French Influence
Towards the end of the century, the dazzling furniture of the Court at Versailles became a new source of inspiration, compounded by an influx of Huguenot designers and craftsmen, such as Daniel Marot (featured in the next article) fleeing religious persecution in France.
The French influence soon became evident as Dutch furniture and fitted furniture, became more sculptural and less rectangular. Based on Marot's designs, chairs now had tall, richly carved backs with crested back rails.

The cabinet is usually made of oak, and then veneered with a variety of woods, for example walnut, palm and purple wood, with lacquer and ray-skin panels forming part of the inlay.
The cabinet stands on six turned, squared baluster legs joined by flat stretchers. A wealthy status symbol for its time, this cabinet is the earliest known example of Dutch furniture made using lacquer panels and polished ray-skin cut from an earlier Japanese coffer.
The original piece was probably Imported from the Netherlands by the Dutch East India Company, but was probably no longer fashionable.
The desirable exotic materials from the East would then have been removed and used to decorate a new, more fashionable, piece of antique furniture.

cabinet, inlayed with panels of Japanese lacquer

Giltwood Pier Table & Mirror
This is one of a pair of tables , each with a matching large mirror above. This heavily carved gilt table has a serpentine marble top and scrolled serpentine-panelled legs joined by a cross stretcher.
In the centre is a carved urn. The coat of arms of the original owner is carved into the top of the mirror frame. (Note: Table picture unavailable)

Doll's House
This doll's house was commissioned by Petronella Oortman, a very wealthy woman from Amsterdam. She ordered porcelain objects from China and had the city's handmade furniture makers and artists decorate the interior.
Costing as much as a townhouse along the canal, this was not a toy for children.
Its importance for the historian is in the design  and placement of the furniture.

Dutch Oak & Marquetry Table
This table is typical of Low Countries' design, with square baluster legs and flat stretchers. Designed to stand against a wall, fitted furniture, only the visible surfaces are decorated with marquetry.


The end of the Thirty Years War in 1648 marked the beginning of German federalism. From this time, Germany was made up of small sovereign states that were ruled by wealthy princes.
The most powerful nation in the Baltic area was Sweden By 1660, under Charles XI, it had reached the height of its power.

Styles of furniture varied from one part of Germany to another, this was because each principality had its own court. The Bavarian Electors built the Residenz in Munich with a style and a luxury that made King Gustav Adolf of Sweden jealous.
Following an exile in Brussels, Elector Max II Emanuel (1680-1724) returned to Bavaria with very expensive Antwerp handmade furniture. During his second exile, in France, he became familiar with the French Baroque and sent Bavarian craftsmen to France to study, who bought the style back home.
In Germany, by the beginning of the 18th century, the heavy opulent Baroque style was making way for the curvaceous Rococo forms that reached their creative high point in church and castle interiors. Partly due to the guild system, the German cities were a little behind in development, generally taking the lead from the masterpieces.

Princely Cabinets
In 1631, the city of Augsburg sent an ebony cabinet decorated with precious materials to the King of Sweden as a piece offering. Augsburg was the stronghold of, now antique furniture design, and such a large number of intarsia cabinets were imported to Spain that in1603 King Philip III introduced a ban on the importation of Augsburg goods.
Curiosity cabinets, embellished with very fine inlays of ivory, silver, amber and precious stones, or with coloured engravings and porcelain plaques were sought by noblemen and emulated throughout Europe. Augsburg also produced opulent embossed and engraved silver fitted and non fitted furniture for the export markets.

Travel Cabinet
This ebony cabinet from Southern Germany is decorated with ivory inlay. The small front opens to reveal many small drawers flanking a second section with a lockable door.
All of the surfaces are decorated with ivory foliate inlay, and the case stands on flat ball feet.


Swedish Gilded Mirror Frame
This gilt bronze frame, attributed to Burchard Precht. The bevelled rectangular plate with arched cresting within a conforming slip-mounted frame cast with egg-and-dart and pendant flowers, shells and rocaille, the scalloped crest surmounted by a mask flanked by frolicking putti beneath central flower basket, cresting plates replaced, the left putto to top replaced in carved wood, regilt.


Vernacular Styles
In Germany and Scandinavia huge, architectural wardrobes with very heavy cornices, known as schranke, remained popular in wealthy middle-class houses throughout the century. These had two doors over two drawers.
In the north they were usually made of oak and very quite often heavily carved - in the south they were more likely to be made from local fruitwood or walnut. The chest was an important household item of handmade furniture well into the 18th century.
Upholstered armchairs with carved top rails were made for the heads of households. These had turned arms and curled, almost scrolled feet.
In Sweden and Germany suites of stools, armchairs and chairs were upholstered in leather, or occasionally they were upholstered in imported silk. In less grand homes it was very common to find stools and benches set around long, plank tables.

Decorative Effects
German craftsmen were renowned for their use of walnut veneer, and later for ebony. Eger in Bonemia was well known for cabinets using sculptural relief or intarsia panels. Nowantique furniture, decorated with Boullework became quite popular in southern Germany at the end of the century. Augsburg craftsmen mastered the technique, and produced fine examples of the style.
Berlin became renowned for japanned furniture, especially for the tables, cabinets, gueridons, and musical instrument cases with japanned decorations on a white ground designed by Gerhard Dagly.
In Paris his non fitted furniture pieces were described as 'Berlin' cabinets. Cabinets decorated with red and blue lacquer from Dresden and Brandenburg were also highly coveted abroad.

The Baroque Schloss Biebrich (palace), south of Wiesbaden
This three winged palace on the banks of the Rhine is a great example of the Baroque style, with its bold colour  scheme and carved statues looking down from the roof.

17th century armoire, a Fassadebschrank - intarsia on oak with a pine base.

Cabinet unit, early 17th century, Marquetry, intarsia on oak and pine base, 161,3 x 120 x 58 cm; Museum Kunstpalast

During the reign of James I, most handmade furniture was made of oak and was limited to joint stools, chairs with plain or spiral turned legs, chests, and long trestle tables. Decoration was confined to elaborate carving on chairs, chests, and settees.
The aristocracy of Wales and Scotland tended to follow the lead of the dominant English court style.

Foreign Influences
During the reign of Charles I, craftsmen from France, Italy, and the Low Countries came to work on state apartments and grand houses. Influenced by designs from the Low Countries, English furniture, now reproduction furniture, was more restrained than Italian Baroque pieces.
Upholstered furniture was made for grand houses and apartments. Chairs generally had quite low, square backs, upholstered with tapestry or leather, and armchairs had seat cushions and padded arms covered with upholstery. Settees were often made as part of a suit with matching chairs.

The Restoration
Furniture, and fitted furniture, was commonly made of plain woods such as oak, ash, elm or beach under Oliver Cromwell, whose government did not condone lavish displays of ornament, but the situation did change after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
Charles II had spent his exile in Europe and bought back the latest fashions to England. Court life under Charles II was far less formal, creating a demand for small folding tables, card tables, and gateleg dining tables. Walnut became the most popular wood, and techniques such as veneering and caning were fashionable. Caned furniture with twist-turned frames was considered quintessentially English.

High-Backed Side Chairs
Made from imported walnut, these chairs, with there carved and pierced back splat, is similar to engravings published by Marot. They have cabriole legs terminating in 'horse-bone' feet, but has stretchers.

Hall Chair
This chair is based on the Italian sgabello design, The oak is carved and painted, with a shell-shaped back and pendant mask with swags on the front. c.1635

Rebuilding London
A huge building boom after the great fire of London in 1666 led to specialization within the woodworking trades. Cabinet makers made case handmade furniture, stands and tables, while joiners - and the gilders and wood carvers who worked with them - concentrated on architectural features, bedsteads and mirror frames. Chair-making also became a specialist craft.
Trade between the Low Countries and England increased after the accession of William III and Mary in 1689.
The European influence on furniture was compounded by the arrival in England of French Huguenot craftsmen, some of whom became cabinet makers to the royal household.

Skilled Craftsmanship
Cabinets were now often veneered with walnut, maple, yew, holly olive, beech, and also fruitwoods. Burr woods were especially desirable. Some woods were cut across the grain to create an 'oyster' veneer.
The most elaborate forms of veneering used floral, seaweed, or arabesque marquetry.
Other cabinets were japanned, to imitate lacquer, or were covered in patterned gesso to create a raised and gilded appearance. Now reproduction furniture, Chests on stands were replaced by bureau cabinets, often topped with pediments or domes intended for the display of expensive porcelain. Clothes presses and livery cupboards were commonplace, as were chests of drawers and kneehole desks.
Tables ranged from oak trestles to grand console tables. These were often designed to stand beneath large, ornate mirrors. High-backed chairs with caned seats and backs were popular, as were chairs in the style of Daniel Marot, which had long carved or pierced back splats.
As the century drew to a close, fine furniture, including fitted furniture, was no longer made solely for grand palaces. Simpler, well crafted pieces were also being made for wealthy city merchants and the landed gentry, paving the way for the elegant styles prevalent in the 18th century.

Japanese Lacquer Cabinet On English Stand
Designed to stand against the wall, this cabinet is only decorated on the front. Such fine lacquered pieces would have been great status symbols. The imported Japanese cabinets rests on an English giltwood stand.

Bureau Bookcase
One of a pair, this is a very rare and fine example of a bureau bookcase. Attributed to the partnership of London cabinet makers James Moore and John Gumley, and is decorated with carved and gilded gesso incorporating strapwork with scrolling foliage and floral detail. An arched pediment with a carved shell sits above arched doors with bevelled glass, which open to reveal a fitted interior. 
The lower part, with a sloping fall front, encloses a bureau interior. The base contains drawers with drop-ring handles.

France: Henri IV & Louis XIII
The early 17th century was a time of increasing prosperity in France, after a long period of war. Henri IV ruled a country in which styles had changed little since the Renaissance.
Keen to encourage new skills, he established a workshop for craftsmen in the Louvre Palace in 1608. The craftsmen he employed were Italian and Flemish (French craftsmen were sent to serve an apprenticeship in the Low Countries) and, protected by royal patronage, they were allowed to work in Paris without being subject to the punitive membership restrictions of the medieval guild of joiners and furniture makers.

Traditional Forms
The majority of handmade furniture was made of oak or walnut during the reign of Henri IV. The massive double-bodied cupboard with an upper section that was narrower than the lower section, doors with geometric panelling, and bun feet continued to be popular well into the 17th century.
Tables had elaborate heavy bases and chairs were architectural in form, which made then rather stiff and uncomfortable.

Foreign Influences
After Henri IV's death in 1610, his Italian wife Marie de Medici was appointed Regent to the young king. During her reign, there was a building boom in Paris and the nobility and a growing middle class began to furnish their apartments in grand style.
Marie was influential in now antique furniture design. She employed many foreign craftsmen, including Jean Mace, a cabinet maker from the Low Countries, who probably first used veneering in French furniture design, and Italian craftsmen, who introduced boullework and pietra dura inlays. In particular Marie de Medici encouraged the manufacture fitted and non fitted furniture - cabinets inlaid with ebony, which were made in Paris from around 1620 to 1630.

Court Cupboard
English 17th century Oak Court Cupboard, beautiful patina, herringbone inlay, forged hardware. Dated and initialed on upper frieze. C 1620

Grand Designs
Furniture during the reign of Louis XIII was monumental and heavy in style. The cabinet, usually on a stand and housing various small drawers, was the most important piece of non fitted furniture of the time. Generally made of walnut or ebony, it would have been decorated with panels, columns, and pilasters.
Ebony veneered cabinets made late into Louis XIII reign are embellished with flat relief carving, carved flowers, and twisted columns. Inspired by Augsburg cabinets that were made in Germany, which used ebony and other exotic materials in a decorative fashion.

The cupboard or buffet was popular at this time, especially in the provinces. This form slowly evolved into an armoire, which was mainly used for storing linens, rather than for the display of expensive household items, such as silver plates or ceramics.
Fall fronts were then added to cabinets, as seen on the typical varguenos, producing an early form of bureau. Small tables intended for the less formal rooms of a house were made in many shapes, but were mostly oblong, with turned legs.

Dining tables now had tops that could be extended, either with hinges or by the use of telescoping leaves. The table bases were usually turned, and H-stretchers provided a popular method of linking the table legs.
Chairs became far more comfortable towards the end of Louis XIII reign, as seats grew lower and wider, and the backs of the chairs became higher. There was a greater emphasis on textiles in Louis XIII handmade furniture, although upholstery was so expensive at this time that only the finest pieces of furniture were covered with textiles. Cushions were used for additional comfort on wooden seats, and chairs made for the upper classes were often covered with fashionable upholstery.

Velvet, damask, leather and needlework were all used. The fabric was fixed into place with rows of small brass tacks, which also served as a decorative element of the chairs. Fringe was added below the back seat rail and along the lower chair rail as an extra embellishment.
Armrests were usually curved and sometimes incorporated an upholstered pad. Chair legs were carved in a sculptural way, similar to the elaborate legs of Brustolon's chairs, or they were turned.

Decorative Detail
The Low Countries, especially Flanders, had a very strong influence on French furniture of the period. Two features typical of Louis XIII furniture were inspired by Flemish furniture - the heavy, moulded panelling in geometric patterns and elaborate turning on legs and stretchers.
Turning was an essential feature of Louis XIII furniture, now antique furniture, both in formal and vernacular pieces. It was now no longer used simply for legs and stretchers, but also to create decorative details on cupboards and cabinets. A piece of furniture would quite often feature more than a single turned design.

                                                  Early 17th century oak coffer (chest)

Walnut Open Armchair
A Louis XIII open armchair with fine spiral twist columns

In the second half of the 17th century, the reign of the flamboyant Louis XIV (1643-1715), known as the Sun King, led to the creation of sumptuous palaces and furnishings that were emulated throughout Europe.
In 1662, a year after becoming King in his own right, Louis installed many of Europe's finest craftsmen in the former tapestry workshops of the Gobelin brothers on the outskirts of Paris. Modelled on the Grand Ducal Workshops in Florence, these centres of excellence created mostly fitted furniture and fittings for the royal palaces and were also responsible for developing a unified design style that celebrated the glory of the King.

Royal Splendour
In 1682, Louis moved the French court into the Palace of Versailles. His favourite designer was Charles Le Brun, whose exuberant designs greatly impressed the King. Le Brun was responsible for many of the greatest rooms in Versailles, including the Hall of Mirrors.
Louis took a personal interest in the decoration and furnishing of his palace and much of the handmade furniture was embellished with visual references to him. The most common motifs were two interlaced 'L's', the fleur-de-lys, and the sunburst, Louis XIV's personal emblem.

The Edict Of Nantes
In 1685, Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes, thereby ending religious tolerance for Protestants. Many French designers and craftsmen, including Daniel Marot and Pierre Gole, fled abroad. This exodus helped spread the influence of French design to the rest of Europe and North America.

Ivory-Veneered Cabinet On Stand
This piece of fine antique furniture is attributed to the Dutch cabinet maker Pierre Gole (1620-1684) for the Cabinet Blanc (the White Room) in the Palace of Versailles.
Veneered in ivory, which acts as a background for floral marquetry in tortoiseshell and various woods, this cabinet is testament to the technical expertise of the maker.
The upper section consists of a series of small drawers on either side of a central recess. Within the recess, enclosed by doors, are three more drawers, all profusely inlaid with marquetry on ivory.
The cabinet stands on six fluted legs, also veneered in ivory, which have ball feet and are joined by flat stretchers. c.1662


Louis XIV Giltwood Canape
The shaped arms and supports of this gilded canape are wrapped with carved acanthus leaves and have strapwork decoration. The six scroll legs with matching decoration are joined by a double x-stretcher surmounted by urn finials.
The canape would originally have been upholstered in needlework or figured velvet. c.1700


Popular Styles
Louis XIV handmade furniture was an expression of the wealth and power of the king, and lavish materials were used, such as exotic woods, silver and gilt, pietra dura panels, imported lacquer, and Boulle marquetry.
Motifs drew on Renaissance decoration, including mythological creatures, grotesques, arabesques, and flora and fauna.
Etiquette changed and comfort became more important. Chair backs were lower and most seats had a wooden frame with leather or cloth upholstery fixed in place with brass-headed nails. The fauteuil, an armchair with open sides, became popular, as did the canape or couch. The arms and legs of chairs incorporated more carved detail than previously, displaying the carvers skills and showing that he was familiar with the latest designs.
Guests were received in the bedroom. The finest beds had a plume of feathers, known as panache, at each corner, and a balustrade separated the occupant from the visitors. Louis XIV's bed was raised on a dais.
Towards the end of the century, the buffet, a two-tiered cupboard with four doors, two above and two below, evolved into the armoire, which had two tall doors. The chest, or coffer, was replaced by the commode, a case piece on short legs with either doors (two) or drawers, which became more formal towards the end of the century.

Louis XIV's audience to the Papal ambassador Sigismondo Chigi, 29 July 1664, (1903).

This panel depicts Louis XIV in his formal bedroom receiving visitors, according to the etiquette of the time. Note the state bed and the sumptuous surroundings. c.1670

The console table was very popular and was generally heavily gilded. It was decorated on three sides, but not at the back, as the table was usually placed against a wall, like fitted furniture.
Smaller tables, often made of fruitwood, were often painted. Their uses varied - some of them held candlesticks or writing paper, others were used as informal dining tables.

Bureau Plat
This bureau plat, designed by Andre-Charles Boulle for the Palace of versailles, is decorated with fine marquetry in tortoiseshell, bronze, and ebony and has three shallow drawers. There are elaborate ormolu mounts of women's busts at the four corners of the desk and the legs terminate in lion's paws. c.1708


Boulle Marquetry
Originating in Italy during the 10th century, where it was known as tarsia a incastro, meaning a combining of materials. Italian craftsmen are thought to have introduced to technique to France in around 1600 when they produced work for Marie de Medici, Henri IV's second wife. Pierre Gole, a cabinet maker from the Low Countries, is also credited with first using the technique in France.

Matching Pairs
Handmade furniture decorating with Boullework was quite often made in pairs, mainly because the process of cutting out the materials resulted in two complete sets of the marquetry design. Boulle marquetry was very time consuming, and making one set of designs, the premiere-partie, also produced an opposing set, the contre-partie - the most commonly seen examples are of matching cabinets.

Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732)
Cabinet maker to Louis XIV, Andre-Charles Boulle was responsible for many of the interior fittings and much of the furniture at the palace of Versailles.
Born in Paris, Boulle trained as a cabinet maker, an architect, a bronze worker, and engraver and obtained the royal privilege of lodging and working in the Louvre.
His most spectacular work perhaps was the design and creation of the of the mirrored walls, parquetry floors, inlaid panelling, and boullework non fitted furniture at the Palace of Versailles.
As well as Louis XIV, his patrons included many French dukes, King Philip V of Spain, and the Electors of both Bavaria and Cologne.
Boulle excelled at the marquetry that eventually took his name, although he was not the only cabinet maker developing this technique. His later designs were influenced by those of Jean Berain, an engraver who was also working at the Louvre, and it is often difficult to tell the work of the two craftsmen apart.
Berain usually incorporated swirling scrolls (arabesques) alongside figural images. His designs also have a more fanciful element than those of Boulle, with small grotesques and monkeys amongst the scrolling patterns. Very few pieces of furniture can definitely be attributed to Boulle himself.
Boulle was largely responsible for the development of new types of furniture, including the bureau and the commode, designs for which were published under the title Nouveaux Desseins de Meubles (New Designs of Furniture) and became widely known.

Louis XIV Boulle Commode
This commode is one of a pair made for Louis XIV's bedchamber at Trianon. It is veneered with ebony inlaid with brass. 17th century.

The Technique
To create Boulle marquetry, a design was first drawn up. Any wood being used, such as ebony, was cut into very thin slices to form a veneer. Tortoiseshell was flattened, then polished and often painted on the underside for colour.Any other materials were flattened in the same way, then cut into sheets the size of the marquetry pattern.
The tortoiseshell was then glued to a sheet of metal, such as pewter or brass, and wedged between two sheets of wood - like a sandwich. The design was then glued to one side of the 'sandwich' and the pattern was cut out of both the tortoiseshell and metal with a fretsaw. When the materials were separated from each other, the pieces of tortoiseshell and metal were sorted to form two marquetry sets - the brass details were set into the tortoiseshell background, known as the premiere-partie - and the tortoiseshell details were set into the brass background to form a reverse pattern, known as the contre-partie.
Once the marquetry veneer had been applied, the brass was engraved to add depth and detail. It was then rubbed down with sharkskin, which has a similar texture to sandpaper, and polished with a mixture of charcoal and oil. This process filled in the hollows of the engraving, making the design more pronounced.
The inner and outer panels of doors were frequently decorated in the same way. Sometimes Boulle used a mixture of both types of boullework on the same piece of furniture, now attempted with reproduction furniture The parts not decorated with boulle were often veneered in ebony, creating a striking contrast to the rest of the piece.

Finishing Touches
Boullework furniture was usually finished with gilded and engraved bronze mounts (known as ormolu). This was partly to protect the edges, legs, feet, and locks, which were the most vulnerable areas, and partly for decoration. The mounts were not usually made by the cabinet makers themselves, but by specialist foundries, which cast and shaped the metal before it was gilded.

Jean Berain (1638-1711)
A draughtsman, painter, designer, and engraver from the Low Countries, Jean Berain was appointed designer to Louis XIV in 1674. His workshop in the Louvre was near to that of Boulle, for whom he created many designs. During Louis XV's reign, Berain provided designs for furniture, weapons, theatrical costumes and sets, and even funeral processions. 
Marquetry patterns with arabesques, scrolled foliage, or fanciful scenes were features of his work, and like Andre Boulle, he was inspired by Renaissance and Classical designs. The term 'berainesque' was coined to describe designs based on his inimitable style.

Spain and Portugal
At the beginning of the 17th century, Spain was extremely powerful and ruled over Portugal as well as other parts of Europe. By the end of the century, however, Spain had lost much of the wealth and power, whereas Portugal, now independent from Spain, was enjoying a period of piece and economic stability.
Spain and Portugal were separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees, so influence was predominantly North African, or Moorish. Both countries also had strong economical and political ties with the East, and Oriental and Indian influences can be seen in Iberian furniture.
Indo-Portuguese handmade furniture was made in Goa for Portuguese clients, and also by Indian craftsmen working in Portugal, mainly in Lisbon. Towards the end of the century, the influence of Portuguese furniture had spread to Britain and the Low Countries because of strong trading links between the countries.
The Spanish practice of placing furniture in specific places in a room was also widely adopted.

Spanish Furniture
The Spanish nobility led a relatively nomadic existence, so non fitted furniture had to be portable. The majority of , now reproduction furniture, was made of local walnut. Cabinets, or varguenos, had handles on the sides so that they could be lifted on or lifted off stands. During the 16th century, varguenos had been luxury items, but they became far more common during the 17th century.
Early 17th century varguenos often had geometric decoration, but later in the century they featured architectural motifs and twisted Baroque columns. As in northern Europe, cabinet makers began to incorporate exotic ebony veneers and ivory and tortoiseshell inlays. Chests were replaced by cupboards or trunks. Trunks usually had domed tops, covered in velvet or leather, with pierced metal mounts and elaborate stands.
The folding Renaissance x-frame chair was still popular. Towards the end of the century, craftsmen made their own versions of Louis XIV fauteuils. These had high, shaped backs and elaborately carved stretchers with interlaced scrolls and turned legs. Usually upholstered in fabric or stamped leather, and the upholstery was fastened in place with decorative brass studs.
Spanish chairs usually had scrolled feet rather than the ball feet typical of French chairs. Plain trestle tables, often covered with textiles, remained popular. Spanish side tables had turned legs and distinctive, curved, iron stretchers joined to the cross-bars between the table legs. Many of these tables could be folded, making them portable. Another type of side table had turned, columnar legs joined by low stretchers and an overhanging top.

Spanish and Portuguese beds differed from those in the rest of Europe. Heavy bed curtains were not popular, as Spain and Portugal have a warm climate, so the bedsteads themselves were decorative and quite often then had triangular, carved backboards with turned columns or spindles.

Portuguese Styles
As in Spain, Portuguese handmade furniture remained traditional until the middle of the century. Chestnut was the most popular native wood, however, as the century advanced , imported Brazilian rosewood, or palisander, became popular - the first American tropical wood to be used by European cabinet makers.
Rosewood is easy to work, and cabinet makers produced turned legs and stretchers in bulb and saucer shapes and lavishly turned and decorated bedsteads.
Cupboards and vast chests of drawers, originally intended for monastic churches, were the most highly decorated pieces of Portuguese furniture, now reproduction furniture, at first, with carvings that imitated the geometric decoration on Moorish tiles. The mid century cabinet or contador was one of the most characteristic pieces of Portuguese furniture. A contador was a cabinet placed on a highly elaborate stand, which was decorated to match the upper cabinet.
High backed chairs were similar to Spanish versions, with stamped and gilded leather upholstery held in place by brass studs. This remained the standard covering for seats and backs well into the 18th century.
In around 1680, a new type of chair developed. It had a high, shaped back, turned legs and arms, and a heavy scrolled front stretcher. The ancient motifs of shells and garlands often decorated the backs of the chairs.
Non fitted furniture made by Portuguese craftsmen in the colonial empire contained elements of European and local styles. In Goa, European-style, low backed chairs were made in indigenous ebony. The heavy, spiral-turned stretchers used on colonial Portuguese, or Indo-Portuguese chairs, tables, chests, and bed frames drew inspiration from Indian cabinet making traditions.

Spanish Vargueno
This cabinet is made of walnut, decorated with bone, ivory, gold sheet inlays and paint. This type of furniture was produced in the southern Spanish city of Vargas.
The fall front is decorated with intricate iron mounts, typical of the Spanish decorative tradition. The top section opens to reveal drawers and pigeon holes. The bottom section displays strong Arab influences, including the geometric inlay pattern.

Early Colonial America
During the 17th century, the American colonies (excluding the Canadian provinces) were governed by Britain. Between 1630 and 1643, around 20,000 English men and women emigrated to colonial America seeking opportunities in a new land. Design influences emanated from the styles the colonialists favoured from home.
While the southern colonies were largely populated by the English, New York and the middle colonies were mainly settled by German, Dutch, and also Scandinavian immigrants.
Most activity was concentrated in the port towns, especially on the eastern seaboard, where the fashionable commodities of the new arrivals were enthusiastically embraced. Boston became the centre of colonial trade. However, it took time for these, now antique furniture developments to reach the rural outlying areas of the colonies.
Most of the early settlers with woodworking skills were joiners rather than cabinet makers (although the term cabinet maker became more common as the century progressed).
No formal reception furniture was made in America. Colonial American furniture resembled the vernacular furniture made in Europe, rather than Baroque court styles.

Red Oak Joint Stool
A standard form of vernacular furniture, the joint stool was common in colonial America, where European settlers greatly influenced handmade furniture design.

Domestic Styles
Chests and simple tables were common in colonial homes. Chests were mainly used for storing expensive textiles, such as the finest household linens. Most homes had two principal rooms, and the furniture was simple and functional. Chests, or blanket chests as they were known in the colonies, had a lid that was lifted to reveal as single space for storage and often a 'till' on the side - an additional, smaller storage space with a cover.
Many cupboards were of simple plank construction, but others had tongue-and-groove panelling with carved and painted decoration.
Case pieces included the cupboard (or 'court cupboard'), which is closely related to the English buffet. It served a similar purpose in the New England colonies - the display of silver plate - and would have been covered with an expensive textiles. Later cupboards had drawers below, rather than doors.
These evolved into chests with two or three drawers, and by the 18th century became chests of drawers in the style that we recognise today.
Chairs and stools, made by joiners and completed by upholsterers, were produced in Boston from around 1660. 
Day beds and couches were also made, but only for the wealthy. By early 18th century, these were being exported to other colonies. Great chairs were important household items. These high backed chairs had a turned front stretcher. Some were upholstered in leather, the brass tacks anchoring the leather serving as decoration - others had a simple rush seat.
Sometimes these chairs are called 'brewster' chairs, named after one of the prominent puritan elders.
The linen cupboard, or kas, a typical Low Country or German piece, was made in New York and New Jersey, but rarely in New England or the south. usually made of local woods, the kas mirrored popular architectural styles and was often painted. Early examples had ball feet, while later cupboards had bracket feet.
Little southern furniture from this period survives, owing to the hot, humid climate, but historians do know of several forms. Southern joint stools were made in walnut rather than the traditional oak favoured in England and the rest of the colonies. Carved chests were used, and some joined chests made of walnut survive. A carved chest made specifically for church use by Richard Perrot dates from the late 17th century. 
Chairs were made of turned wood, with leather or rush coverings.

Native Wood
Owing to the different climates of the colonial states, the types of wood used varied tremendously. Furniture makers in the north used maple, oak, pine, and cherry, while those in the middle and southern colonies used tulipwood, cedar, southern pitch pine, and walnut.
Immigrant joiners and craftsmen along the eastern seaboard gradually began to use local woods, as these were less expensive than imported timbers. The choice of wood is important in determining the origin of colonial furniture, especially as the style of many pieces closely resembles English non fitted and fitted furniture of the time.

Boston Japanned Furniture
The craze for all things 'Oriental' reached the colonies, especially the prosperous seaport of Boston.
Japanning was the art of imitating Oriental lacquerwork. English merchants imported fashionable commodities, and japanned objects were brought to Boston in great quantities, as these items were considered a mark of status for wealthy colonials.
At least a dozen Boston japanners were working by the first half of the 18th century. Usually American japanning was done on white pine. Imitating lacquerwork required ingenuity - vermilion was applied to the surface with lampblack to achieve the effect of tortoiseshell. 

Case Pieces
One of the most common forms of case handmade furniture in the 17th century was the cupboard. At the beginning of the century, most cupboards had an open area above a closed lower section, but gradually, the form changed so that both sections were enclosed.
Generally the upper portion had two doors, while the base had doors or drawers below, depending on the use of the piece. By the end of the century, this style had evolved into the armoire, or wardrobe, which had two long doors from top to bottom.
Many armoires were influenced by architectural designs. They were quite often massive, highly decorated pieces with overhanging cornices. The carving gradually became less detailed, and by the end of the century, the principal decoration took the form of simple geometric patterns on the doors.
These armoires had a lower section containing drawers, and most of them had ball feet. The common terms for them were 'kas' (in the Low Countries), or 'schrank' (in Germany).
Two-part cupboards made in urban areas were less imposing. The cornice of the fitted furniture was smaller and decoration was provided by veneers of different coloured woods rather than carving.

Dutch or Flemish Cupboard
Made of oak, this cupboard is carved and embellished with architectural elements and caryatids. With its framed panels and ball feet, this cupboard retains many features of the Renaissance buffet a deux corps. Early 17th century.

Flemish Renaissance Oak Court Cupboard
Cupboards of this design, with small doors above an open area in the upper section, were made in great quantities in the 19th century, but 17th-century examples such as this one are quite scarce. This example includes six carved scenes of the life of Christ in full relief. Lower section opens to two small drawers side-by-side along the top and a shelf in the middle. Both top and lower doors have the original large inset iron locks. Provenance: "Oude Walle" castle, Lovendegem Belgium.

German Cupboard
A south German walnut and fruitwood cupboard 17th century.
The rectangular moulded top above a frieze inlaid with simulated panels, above a pair of doors, decorated with foliate carving and cherub's heads, flanked and divided by spirally turned pilasters, above a pair of dummy drawers, on bun feet.


In its simplest form, a cabinet is a piece of handmade furniture with drawers or compartments for storage purposes.
Until the 17th century, collector's cabinets for precious items were owned only by the wealthy, and were only viewed by a select number of people in private rooms.
Dutch cabinets were also used for storing linen, and were important status symbols in the Low Countries.
As the century progressed, the cabinet became a grand piece of non fitted furniture that dominated a room, a showpiece both for the consummate skill of the cabinet maker, and for the exotic materials used, including ivory, amber, ebony, pietra dura, and exquisite marquetry panels. Cabinets from Augsburg, Antwerp, Naples, or the Orient were especially coveted.
There were many types of cabinet, now often reproduction furniture, - from Iberian varguenos, which were originally portable writing desks, to exotic Oriental pieces. Imported lacquer cabinets from the Far East were immensely fashionable. In England, carvers created ornate gilt stands to display the cabinets.
Still-life and floral paintings in the Dutch style were often reproduced in marquetry, and actual paintings were incorporated as panels on cabinets. Colonial pieces incorporated stylistic scenes from their native sources.

This oak veneered cabinet from Amsterdam is attributed to Jan van Mekeren. The exquisite marquetry panels are made from diverse imported woods, including kingwood, tulipwood, rosewood, ebony, olive wood, and holly, reflecting the naturalistic still-life paintings of flowers popular at the time.
The squared legs and flat stretchers of the stand are also decorated with floral marquetry.

This Cabinet-On-Stand from the Low Countries is made of oyster walnut and decorated with marquetry. It has a moulded cornice above panelled doors. The stand has a waved x-stretcher on spirally turned legs and ebonized bun feet.


An Export Lacquer Cabinet on European Giltwood Stand. Edo Period (early 17th century), the stand 17th-18th century of rectangular form, with two hinged doors opening to reveal various sized drawers surrounding a central drawer of architechtural form, all decorated in hiramaki-e and takamaki-e with a panel to the front depicting karashishi amongst rocks and pine trees, the edges of the doors with shippo-hanabishi, the reverse with a basket of flowers, the interior of the doors with a cockerel and hen, the drawers decorated with leaves and flowers including ginko, cherry blossom, plum, chrysanthemum, streams and butterflies on a black ground, copper gilt fittings engraved with tomoe mon and scrolling vines

An Export Lacquer Cabinet on European Giltwood Stand

A Queen Anne Black And Gilt Japanned Double-Dome Cabinet-On-Chest.
Decorated with figures, exotic birds, pagodas and foliage, with later finials above two doors enclosing drawers, with a later leather-lined brushing slide above two short and two long drawers, on later bracket feet.


The fall flap of this Spanish writing cabinet conceals carved drawers and very small cupboards. The tiny columns give an architectural feel and imitate spiral Baroque columns.
The cabinet sits on a stand with spirally carved and fluted supports.

Augsburg Cabinet
This cabinet is made from indigenous walnut, elm, maple, and fruitwood, and is decorated inside and out with intarsia, depicting architectural and floral motifs. c.1600


Italian Cabinet
Late 17th / early 18th century non fitted furniture, ivory inlaid and mounted pietre paesina rosewood, ebony and ebonised cabinet table.
The rectangular top and sides inlaid with ivory cartridges centred to the front by year architectural pediment flanked by Above a door turned columns, the interior fitted with drawers, to the sides flanked by six smaller drawers simulating long drawers, on tapering feet.
Monique Riccardo-Cubitt, The Art of the Cabinet. In the 1620's, the use of a type of stone with natural veining pietre paesina or 'landscape stone' was employed for decorative effect. When panels of it were mounted on cabinets the Albanese limestone which After being polished reveals a natural pattern of mountainous rocky outlines, or the Lineato Arno, a different Albanese variety of the limestone, featuring wavey seas and rivers suggesting patterns. Both kinds of stone provide a perfect background for painted landscapes, or when firms have mounted it on the table present lot.


Indo-Portuguese Cabinet-On-Stand
Inlaid with various woods - sixteen small drawers above two larger drawers, all with floral scrollwork in black on orange with blue metal floral scrollwork lockplates. Diamond lozenge decoration on runners and thin legs of stand, culminating in feet of a coiled serpent.
The form and decoration of this cabinet are typical of a large group of, now antique furniture, made in India under Portuguese patronage. Although pieces of this type were produced in quantity, there is very little that can be firmly established about the workshops which made them. Some idea of date of manufacture is provided by parallels with European furniture; large multiple-drawer cabinets without doors or a fall-front, and mounted on stands, were very much in fashion in the second half of the seventeenth century. High-style European furniture of that period is also characterised by intarsia of a variety of types, including ‘seaweed’ marquetry, named after the intricate interlacing designs and dense arabesques that were inlaid. Although these are possible influences, Indo-Portuguese cabinets of this type are also characterised by wholly distinctive elements such abstracted animal and geometric designs which have no precedent in any one European or Indian tradition. The scrolling legs, for instance, derive from seventeenth-century Iberian furniture, but are inlaid with bird forms that scholars have associated with jatayu, king of the vultures and a central character in the Ramayana. The materials, inlay and intricately pierced mounts on cabinets of this type bear an affinity with fitted chests of drawers and cabinets in the Sacristy of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa. This was built in 1654 and it was likely that the cabinets were constructed shortly afterwards.

Cabinet on stand (contador) - Cabinet on stand (contador)

Flemish Cabinet
Panels depicting a variety of rural landscapes have been set into this ebony cabinet from Antwerp. The piece has a rectangular hinged top, and two doors at the front. The interior of this piece of handmade furniture has nine drawers around a columned door with a broken arch pediment, behind which is a mirrored interior.

Gateleg Table
This English, William and Mary style table is handmade furniture of oak. The gateleg mechanism enables the top to fold down. The bobbin-turned legs are joined by square stretchers.
This style was popular well into the 18th century, so such tables are difficult to accurately date.

English Table
This English refectory table is made of oak. The low stretchers indicate that the table has probably been reduced in height, which happens when the legs suffer termite or water damage.
It was possibly made for a manor house in Cornwall.

English Table
This Charles II table has a deep frieze without drawers, and carving that incorporates a Tudor rose. The cup-and-cover supports are typical for its date, but the four plank top has been added later.
Reeded cross stretchers are positioned between chamfered block feet.

Flemish Table
The rectangular top above a panelled drawer on turned baluster-shaped legs joined by stretchers, on bun feet, restorations and replacements including the lowest mouldings to the legs and stretchers, now common in reproduction furniture.


Spanish Table
The 1” thick, 2 plank top with rounded corners on this piece of non fitted furniture. The frieze fitted with 2 drawers with original locks and handles. Standing on tapering square legs, that have been reduced in height, joined by shaped side stretchers. Exceptional colour and patina. Spanish, second quarter of the 17th century.

During the 17th century, chairs, handmade furniture, as opposed to stools and benches, were only found in the homes of the wealthy. The chair evolved from the simple joint stool.
Changing fashions, the import of exotic examples, and the introduction of new materials and techniques, meant that this was a crucial time in the chair's development.
There were two major types of chair - the low chair with a rectangular back, and the high-backed chair. The low chair or 'back stool' is often referred to as a Cromwellian chair, a Jacobean, or a Farthingale chair.
The introduction of smaller, private rooms to the 17th century home meant that chairs, and other forms of non fitted furniture, were used in more different ways. High-backed chairs, particularly those with caned seats and backs, were often used in halls and along the walls. By the end of the century, several variations of the high-back were being made.
The most elaborate high-backed chairs were designed by Daniel Marot for the French court. These chairs were made in suites, and were used in the bedchamber.
Upholstered chairs were signs of great wealth and status, as the materials used to cover the seats and backs were incredibly expensive.
In Spain and Portugal stamped-leather upholstery was popular. Cane seats were fashionable by the end of the century.

Carved Armchairs
This type of chair, made of solid ebony, was imported by the Dutch East India Company from India, Ceylon, and the East Indies.
Carved on all surfaces, it has turned legs, terminating in small bun feet. This chair inspired Horace Walpole's furniture for his London house in the 18th century.

An early joined oak back stool or Farthingale chair.
This term is derived from the farthingale hoops worn by Elizabethan ladies to create their voluminous skirts.
These chairs were of a design to more easily accomodate this fashion.
The block & ball turned front legs united by a barley twist stretcher.
An ideal accompaniment to a bureau with it's slightly higher seat level typical of chairs prior to 1650.

English Walnut Side Chair
A walnut chair, English, late 17th century and later the carved back with elongated cane insert over an upholstered seat on carved barley twist legs

New England Side Chair
Upholstered and imported leather, this chair is made of native maple. This form is properly termed a 'back stool', and is very similar to English examples, although these would have been made of oak.

Spanish Armchairs
Pair of 17th Century Spanish Baroque carved walnut arm chairs, each leather back and padded seat set with sizeable floriform nail heads, unique apron featuring an intricate carved and pierced design, detailed with unusually scrolled side stretcher.

French Armchair
The front legs of this Louis XIV walnut armchair are turned, handmade furniture, and linked with H-stretchers. The seat and back are covered with gros point floral needlework fabric.

Spanish/Italian 'Throne' Chair
17th century Spanish or Italian walnut ‘throne ‘ chair, with gilt finials and front feet, of typical ‘sleigh’ construction; retains original leatherwork and some of the embroidery.

American Armchair
Early American colonial non fitted furniture Slat back chairs were a variation of the all-turned chair. Two specimens having the more ample turnings that are associated with the turnery of the 17th century may be seen at the American Museum in Britain. A slat back armchair at Winterthur has the higher back and the ball-and-disc turnings that characterized some of these chairs after about 1700. That tall slatted chairs date at least from the first years of the century is indicated by an oil sketch of about 1705 in which Johannes Kelpies is shown seated at a table in one of these chairs. All sorts of turned chairs were produced in America from this early period down to the present century, and assigning the usual two to three decade period of furniture manufacture must be qualified in view of the continued popularity of these early American colonial furniture chairs and of the turner's or chairmaker's ability to turn out' most of the shapes made by his predecessors.
More kinds of craftsmen were engaged in manufacturing chairs and other seats than any other form of furniture: joiners, turners, carpenters, cabinetmakers, chairmakers, cane chairmakers, upholsterers, and possibly carvers were capable of producing part or all of certain kinds of early American colonial furniture seats. The proliferation of crafts began occurring at about the time of the Restoration in 1660, so that the older idea of the maker of chairs as principally a joiner or turner rapidly became less tenable. For example, English upholsterers sold upholstered seats like the chair illustrated with a turkey­work back and seat to buyers in England and the colonies.

English Side Chair
A walnut side chair, late 17th century the scrolling top rail over a caned back splat between slender turned and tapering uprights over a caned seat on turned front supports, terminating in a scroll foot, united by a turned 'H' stretcher

Lot: 296

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