Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Neoclassical Furniture

The heart of neoclassical design lies in ancient Greece and Rome. It was initially inspired by architecture, as there were no examples of ancient furniture until after the evacuation of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the mid 18th century. Thus, early Neoclassical furniture tends to use architectural motifs adhered to in standard handmade furniture forms, such as acanthus leaves, swags and foliage, guilloche bands, and scrolls. The use of these motifs was not new, as they were also employed as ornament in both the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
What was new, however, was how the motifs were adapted, added to, and incorporated within the decorative schemes encountered through travel on the Grand Tour and the discoveries made in ancient sites

Introducing The Style
France was the first country to embrace neoclassical design, although it was not until the late 1770s that the final vestiges of Rococo were erased from the decorative library. The French barometer of taste, the Comte de Caylus (1692 - 1765), was instrumental in introducing Classicism, including Classical furniture, to France, publishing in 1752 the first of seven volumes of Recueil d'antiquites egyptiennes, etruscanes, grecques et romaines, in which he discussed and illustrated the tastes and styles of the ancient world.
Neoclassical furniture, now often reproduced isung reproduction furniture techniques, tends to be rectangular and lack curves. This did not happen at once, as larger pieces often remained in stock after fashions had changed and cabinet-makers adapted to Rococo forms by applying Neoclassical decoration. In this French traditional style, serpentine shapes were gradually straightened and cabriole legs evolved into turned or tapered legs. Chair backs were rectangular or oval with turned legs, often fluted in reference to Classical architectural columns.

Different Interpretations
Throughout the Neoclassical period, building booms influenced the production of furnishings. More palaces were built in Russia in the second half of the 18th century than in any other European country. These new buildings, and refurbished older buildings, required new fitted and non fitted furniture, as most of the existing pieces lacked sufficient pomp and majesty for Catherine the Great's court.
Most Russian furniture was imported from Paris, as Russian taste tended to emulate French style. The German ebeniste, David Roentgen, made furniture specifically for his Russian clientele that was far more flamboyant than French court furniture.

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