One Line In Europe To Divide New Ansd Old Word Antique Victorian Furniture – Getting to Know Rococo

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Antique Victorian Furniture – Getting to Know Rococo

Serious collectors and dealers of antique Victorian furniture are inevitably familiar with the Rococo design style. The Victorian Rococo style of furniture, sometimes referred to as Louis XV or Louis Quinze, began to gain great popularity in England during the 1840s.

The rococo style in general, which went beyond furniture to architecture, painting and other art forms, began in France during the last century and spread from there to other parts of Europe. In England during the 18th century, Rococo was considered “French taste” and was not retained as an architectural style. However, the incomparable Thomas Chippendale adapted and refined the furniture style and brought about a design transformation in English furniture. Some link the development of the Rococo in England to a resurgent interest in Gothic architecture.

As it developed in the Victorian era of the 19th century, it is often called neo-rococo revival or rococo, as it was a style revived from the previous century. In furniture it became extremely popular and proved to be the most lasting influence on Victorian era furniture design. In the 1840s and especially in the following decades, almost every furniture maker in England made Rococo pieces.

The furniture was visually appealing and comfortable. Carvings and swirling lines were subtle, but usually not overstated or overwrought. Features of the furniture included curved legs, cartouche backs with rounded rounded contours and carvings of flowers, leaves, grapes and birds.

Naturalistic carvings are a dominant feature and anyone dealing with furniture of this period is intimately familiar with them. I recently saw a Rococo sofa that had birds and a bird’s nest filled with eggs carved into its gorgeous wooden frame. Like Victorian literature, this may not be for everyone. But for those of us caught up in it, there is no explaining our admiration.

Furniture makers bent and shaped the wood. Favorite woods included mahogany and rosewood. Side chairs were prevalent, and antique victorian furniture collectors today, who are especially looking for Victorian chairs, consider Rococo side chairs to be among the most desirable — attractive, comfortable, and collectible.

The sofas were of different lengths. A popular style of couch had a rounded medallion in the center of the back, with an engraving at the top repeated on either side farther from the frame. The graceful loveseats had upholstered wooden frames and were serpentine in shape with characteristic natural carvings on the back and arms. Also popular during the Victorian Rococo era were the upholstered husband and wife chairs. The husband’s chair had arms and a high back. The woman’s chair was a little lower and without arms.

A famous American cabinetmaker who worked in the Victorian rococo style was John Henry Belter. Belter perfected lamination techniques and became famous for a number of design characteristics, including his preference for rosewood, his foliage, fruit and flowers worked into the intricate detail of his designs, his skill in wood bending in serpentine and rounded contours, and his beds with headboards that rose well above the height of the footboards. Belter’s shop was in New York City, but he shipped his work to all parts of the country. So keep your eye out for Belter’s great work, no matter where you are.

Here is one last piece of information. The word Rococo is a combination of the French word rocaille, which some translate as shell, but also contains the sense of loose rock. It shows the characteristic curve of the Rococo style. The word also contains the Italian word barocco, which is our baroque. The Baroque period was known for its intricacy and elaboration.

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