The Tudor Period
||1485 – 1509
||1509 – 1547
||1553 – 1558
The Elizabethan Period
The Early Stuart or Jacobean, Cromwellian & Late Stuart Period
||1603 – 1625
||1629 – 1649
||1649 – 1660
||1660 – 1685
||1685 – 1689
William & Mary Period
|William III & Mary
||1689 – 1702
Queen Anne Period
||1702 – 1714
||1714 – 1727
||1727 – 1760
||1760 – 1820
||1837 – 1901
||1643 – 1715
||1715 – 1754
||1754 – 1789
||1789 – 1799
||1799 – 1804
||1804 – 1815 (First Empire)
||1815 – 1824
||1824 – 1830
||1830 – 1848
||1848 – 1852 (President)
|Louis Napoleon III
||1852 – 1871 (Second Empire)
Antique Furniture Styles
Early English Furniture was often rudimentary. Most furniture was made of Oak and from other indigenous trees such as Beech, Chestnut, and Cypress woods. Some early furniture made for the elite was actually painted.
The reign of Henry VIII saw great advancement in the making of furniture. He was active in encouraging both English and foreign craftsmen and cabinet makers to work in England.
Queen Elizabeth I was a cultured and refined monarch. She carried on her father’s interest in the arts and again encouraged craftsmen to design and make furniture for the Royal Palaces. Gothic design and its influence remained and much of the furniture from this period displayed that style. The use of exotic inlay came to the fore with Ivory, Box, Cherry, and Ebony being used in many pieces. Continental styles were copied with the use of Strap work and Arabesque design.
One advancement in this period was the use of stuffed seats, replacing plain wooden seats. These chairs were called Cushioned Chairs.
Other advancements were made with the Credence/Buffet developing into the Sideboard, and the Oak chest into the settle.
In the early 1600’s Oak remained the primary wood of the craftsman. Tables were round of oval in shape with a gate-leg action. Handles and scroll hinges forged in wrought iron were mostly used along with brass drop handles.
Around this period the use of Mirrors became prominent. The arrival of the Huguenot craftsman saw the use of exquisite fabrics, and imported lacquer work from the orient became much desired.
The use of more restrained carving was evident with chairs often upholstered in Velvet with brass nail decoration. The latter part of this period saw the arrival of the first long case clocks. Holland contributed to this interest with the use of Walnut more generally used.
The William and Mary Period saw the extensive use of Oyster veneers, most often in Walnut, Olivewood, and Laburnum. The English cabinet makers employing the design elements of the French and Dutch craftsman.
In this period the main woods used were Oak, Walnut, and Chestnut. Dutch marquetry was also extensively used. It was also around this period that we first saw the arrival of the cabriole leg design.
The Queen Anne Period produced its own style which remained throughout the reign of George I and into the early part of George II.
Possibly one of the most popular chair designs of all times arrived in this period with the Windsor chair, made in almost every wood type, particularly Elm, and the fruitwoods.
Cabinet making reached a high standard with fine fabrics and needlework being used as upholstery. Marquetry began to be used more sparingly and gilding became more evident. The use of broken pediments was introduced along with domed interior fittings. The ball and claw foot design was developed along with scroll and hoof feet.
The Georgian era is chiefly recognised as being the classic furniture period. The most important designers of furniture were coming to the fore with Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, and Adam being the leaders of their time.
The new wood which captivated both the designers and cabinet makers was Mahogany, although walnut remained in extensive use.
Chippendale is probably regarded at the greatest designer in English history. It is fair to say that he changed the course of English furniture with his extensive design range and the publication of his directoire. Gilding and veneering were regarded as the norm and the process was freely used by most cabinet makers.
The Regency period of 1800 – 1830 is known for its reflection of the Empire design. Many designs were taken from the classical period. The design of furniture was more subtle and became more usable. It would appear that the primary wood used in this period was Rosewood with the use of extensive metal inlays, these included ormolu and brass. Well known designers of the time were, Henry Holland, Thomas Sheraton, Thomas Hope, Gillows of Lancaster, and George Smith.
Another advance in furniture design was the fashionable introduction of the upholstered Sofa and the Sofa table, with matching Tea & Card Tables.
The Victorian era is recognised as the period where English furniture became heavier in design. Craftsmanship was still high on the agenda but with a discernable German influence. The main woods in use remained, Mahogany, Rosewood, and Satinwood. Later on in this period there was an 18th century revival which produced some of the finest furniture ever produced.
The well known cabinet makers of the day, Holland & Sons, Gillows, and others used the best materials and veneers to produce furniture of the highest quality which made its way into many Royal and private collections.
The Great Exhibition of 1851, held in London showed the world how the English had become the centre for furniture making and design.
Glossary of wood
Acacia - A dull yellow-coloured hardwood with brownish markings, occasionally used for inlay work towards the end of the 18th century. It is strong and durable.
Alder - a wood sometimes used in making chairs of common variety; it grows in England on swampy ground and is of orange yellow colour. The bark is used for dyeing.
Amaranth - see Purple Heart.
Amboyna - A West Indian wood of yellowish-brown colour, mottled with "bird's-eye" figurings, used to veneer whole surfaces such as table tops, and also for inlay and marquetry.
Apple - A heavy hardwood, reddish-brown in colour, with straight grain, used as a veneer and inlay.
Ash - A tough white wood largely used for making furniture, particularly chairs; it has light-brown markings and closely resembles oak in appearance and texture.
Beech - A wood much used in making articles of furniture, chairs being the most favoured; also used for other articles that are afterwards painted. It is of brownish white colour, hard and solid, and has a speckled grain.
Birch - A wood once much preferred for the construction of bedroom furniture; when polished it closely resembles satinwood, but is of a somewhat lighter colour with a fine wave-like grain. It is a hardwood and retains its arris.
Black Bean - A richly marked Australian hardwood of rich golden colour, much used for panels and high-class joinery work.
Blackwood - A general title given to numerous hardwoods found in both the East and West Indies. They are all heavy, hard a decorative, and in colour range from dark brown to purplish.
Bog Oak - Oak, which has been preserved in peat, bogs, black in colour.
Box - A very hard, extremely heavy wood of pale bellow colour, with a fine regular texture, used for making flutes, etc., also for wood-engraving, the lines being as sharp as those produced on a metal plate.
Brazil Wood - A hard, heavy wood resembling mahogany, used as an inlay.
Calamandar - A very hard wood from East India. It is hazel-brown in colour with black streaks, and was much used for making small articles of furniture.
Camphorwood - A wood similar to mahogany both in colour and texture, obtained from Borneo and Kenya. Linen and blanket chests are made, or lined with it because of its moth-resisting properties.
Canary Wood - A species of mahogany of a light yellow colour, much used for veneers and inlay work.
Cedar - A light, soft brown wood with straight grain but little used in cabinet work owing to its poor quality; it is, however, sometimes employed for drawers, linings, etc., owning to its possessing a delicate fragrance which also acts as a deterrent to insects' it is little affected by changes in temperature.
Cherry - A hardwood with reddish close grain; used for small articles and inlay.
Chestnut - A hard, durable white wood, somewhat resembling oak, but when polished it is not unlike satinwood; it was often used for rails and spars of chairs.
Circassian Walnut - A beautifully figures walnut used for veneers and obtained from Southern Europe.
Coromandel - A variety of calamander wood; much used for making furniture, particularly small articles such as writing boxes. It is hazel-brown in colour with black streaks, hard and durable and imported from the East Indies.
Cypress - A strong durable timber used in joinery; it has a fine, durable grain and is of a yellowish colour with reddish markings.
Deal - A general name given to the wood of fir and pine tress, straight grained, easily worked.
Degame Wood - A hardwood found in the West Indies, used for decorative purposes; it is light yellow in colour.
Ebony - A hard, close-grained wood, heavier than water, of deep black colour with dark green and brown stripes; principally used for veneers, but sometimes for articles of furniture and ornamental items.
Elm - A hard, compact, durable wood of light colour with pronounced grain, largely used for making kitchen chairs, etc.
Hare-Wood or Hair-Wood - A green-grey stained veneer of sycamore frequently used by cabinetmakers in the late 18th century.
Hickory - A heavy, strong tenacious wood, much used for carriage shafts, whip handles, gun stocks, etc; it has been very little used for furniture, being peculiarly liable to damage by worms, heat and moisture.
Holly - An ivory white, hard, fine-grained wood, with a small spotted grain, largely used for veneer work, in which it is sometimes dyed various colours.
Kauri - a light yellow straight-grained wood from New Zealand, used for bentwood work.
Kingwood - A Brazilian wood much used for veneer and inlay work; it is similar to rosewood but lighter in colour and more heavily marked in a violet shade; often used \z bandings on satinwood veneer.
Laburnum - A hard fine-grained wood considerably used towards the end of the 17th century for veneers, inlay work, knife handles, etc; the colours vary considerably and are sometimes almost dark green with brown markings, and sometimes dark brown.
Larch - A tough, durable, straight-grained wood free from knots.
Lignum Vitae - A very hard, tough, close-grained wood of dark greenish-brown colour, imported from Jamaica; used for veneering, particularly in the 17th century, also for making pulleys, balls, pestles, etc.
Lime - A light, soft, but tough and durable white wood, free from knots and cross grain, much used by carvers.
Mahogany - The quality of mahogany varies considerably, some varieties being hard and others soft, but it is probably the most stable of woods when seasoned. The hard variety, known as "Spanish" mahogany, was generally used in England from the early 18th century. It was obtained from Jamaica, Cuba and San Domingo. Honduras mahogany is lighter in colour and softer and was much used from the late 18th century.
Maple - A compact, fine-grained white wood much employed for inlay and marquetry work. The famous "birds-eye" maple is obtained from the sugar maple tree; its wood is often used for panels, inlay work and picture frames and when polished is of a rich golden-brown colour, with a satiny appearance somewhat resembling sycamore.
Oak - Famous for its strength and durability. In general use for the making of furniture until the late 17th century. Subsequently its use was restricted to the carcase portions of fine veneered furniture, although it continues to be generally employed for simpler, country furniture.
Olive Wood - Of a greenish yellow colour with black cloudy spots and veins; often used for veneering and small ornamental articles; some bearing an inscription in Jewish characters, as travel mementoes.
Padouk - An Australian hardwood, resembles rosewood, greyer in colour.
Palisander - See Purple Heart.
Pear - A white, fairly soft, durable wood; the red pine or deal is the wood most universally used in the construction of houses, cheap furniture, etc.
Pitch Pine - A variety of wood imported from the United States; it is hard and of yellowish colour with brown streaks; it is not very extensively used in making furniture.
Plane - A white close-grained wood often used as a substitute for beech.
Plum - A heavy yellow to reddish brown wood used as inlay.
Pollard Oak and Walnut - The wood of oak and walnut trees that have been polled, cut at the top to give a bushier head. The process alters the grain.
Purple Heart, Amaranth or Palisander - A strong, durable close-grained hardwood obtained from British Guiana. Its colour varies from dark-brown to purplish-violet, with a wavy grain and distinct markings. It is used for veneers and other decorative purposes.
Rosewood - A hard-wood imported from India; it somewhat resembles mahogany in general appearance; the colours vary from a light to almost blackish brown, marked with streaks of dark red and black. It was chiefly used for veneer and inlay work, but during the first half of the 19th century articles were made up entirely from it. When cut it yields an agreeable smell of roses, from which it derives its name.
Sandalwood - A compact, fine-grained wood, remarkable for its fragrance, which is much disliked by insects. The wood is therefore useful in making workboxes and similar articles. It is imported from the East Indies, and is of a greenish-yellow colour.
Satin Walnut - The English name for American Gum; a light brown sometimes with black stripe markings, used for inexpensive bedroom furniture.
Satinwood - A hard, close-grained, heavy wood of yellow colour varying to a golden hue; some varieties have no markings and are quite plain, others have a distinct rippled figure, and were extensively used by Adam, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. It is imported from Africa and the West Indies.
Snakewood - A rare, very hard heavy wood of yellow colour, beautifully mottled with deep brown marks, arranged regularly and bearing a slight resemblance to the markings of a snake; its scarcity makes it valuable and it is used only on very fine inlay work. It is obtained from Guiana.
Sycamore - A species of maple, hard and even-grained; in its natural state is of a light yellowish colour, possesses a fine "fiddleback" grain, although it is sometimes found without markings. It is often stained to a greenish grey shade, and in this state is used for veneering whole suites of furniture, when it is sometimes called greywood.
Teak - A heavy, very hard wood of reddish brown colour extensively used for shipbuilding; it is used for making furniture, sinks, etc.
Thuya - A wood occasionally used for inlay work, it is of a golden brown colour, figures with small "birds'-eyes" in a halo or circle.
Tulipwood - A hardwood of yellowish colour with reddish stripes; it is usually cut across the grain and used in veneers for banding. It loses lustre on exposure.
Walnut - A fairly hard fine-grained wood of rich brown colour, veined and shaded with darker brown and black. Considerably used in the making of furniture, particularly of the Queen Anne period. English walnut is usually distinguishable by its rich golden-brown colour and straight grain, foreign varieties being of a darker colour.
Yew - A very hard, tough, pliable wood of orange red or dark brown colour, formerly much used for making bows and the backs of Windsor chairs.
Zebra Wood - Occasionally used for inlay and veneer work; it has pronounced markings of brown stripes on a light brown ground.
Glossary of Furniture Makers
ADAM Robert and James Adam came of a Scottish family of architects and were born at Kirkaldy, in Fifeshire. Robert apparently took the leading part in affairs. He was born in 1728 and died in 1792. The brothers' book of designs was published in 1775.
Brass inlay was occasionally used. The decorations on many tables were on the underframing. Ormolu escutcheons, knobs, handles and other fittings were largely employed. The tracery of doors and inlay panels was sometimes of diamond shape. Circular tapering legs as distinct from the square tapering legs of some of the other masters, were a feature. The "rainceau" style of decoration was much used by the Adam brothers. Some of the pieces were painted, other japanned in black and soft shades of slate and green with painted or gilt decorations on the polished surfaces.
The chair backs were often of oval or shield shape, and were usually padded. Some of the larger side tables have eight or even ten legs. Brass lattice-pattern grills were sometimes fitted to bookcase doors, in place of glass. The carvings or garnishments on Adam furniture usually had a centre ornament or patera, the latter being used in a large proportion of their designs. Papier-maché was employed in some cases in making door panels, candle brackets, etc. Some of the articles of furniture designed by the Adelphi, as the Adam brothers were sometimes called, were sideboards with taper pedestals, commodes, case-shaped knife cabinets, bookcases, girandoles, mirror-frames, tables, etc.
The Adam brothers revived the classical style, this class of ornamentation and design being represented in practically all their work. Celebrated artists such as Angelica Kauffmann, Zucchi, Cipriani and Pergolesi helped them in the decoration of rooms, the panels of furniture, table tops, etc. The Adam brothers may be said to be among the first to produce sideboards. Tables were first made with separate pedestals en suite, but later these were embodied. Amongst other forms or ornamentation used by them were painted and Jasper ware (Wedgwood) medallions, Greek and Roman vases, festoons, corn and tassel, anthemion, bows of ribbon, caryatids, rams' heads, cupids, eagle-headed grotesques, winged sphinx lyres, pineapples, etc.
The inverted bell flower or husk was extensively used in the carved and gilt festooned decorations on the mirrors, etc., but apparently not so much on the chair legs, these usually being fluted and sometimes cable fluted. Mahogany and satinwood were largely used, being decorated with rich inlays, composed of such woods as amboyna, kingswood, tulipwood, etc., or painted by one of the famous artists who assisted in the brothers' work.
Baldock, Edward Holmes (1777-1845). Baldock was one of the first London antique dealers, in the modern sense of the word. He principally dealt in 18th century French furniture and Chinese Export porcelain, and commissioned furniture to compliment his inventory. This furniture has strong French design influences, but retains subtle English details (the floral marquetry often depicts English wildflowers). His clients included the Duke of Buccleuch and George IVth. His dispersal sale was in 1843 on his retirement.
Barbedienne Ferdinand Barbedienne and Achille Collas, who was the inventor of a machine that would mechanically reduce statues, started the F. Barbedienne foundry in Paris in 1838. At first they produced bronze reductions of antique sculptures of Greek and Roman origin. Their first contract to produce bronzes modelled by a living artist was made in 1843 when they arranged to produce the works of Francois Rude. They barely survived the revolution and financial collapse of 1848, which caused many artists and foundries to declare bankruptcy. Barbedienne actively pursued contracts with the many sculptors of Paris contracting with David D'Angers, Jean-Baptiste Clesinger, and even producing some casts for Antoine Louis Barye as well as others.
Achille Collas died in 1859 leaving Ferdinand Barbedienne as the sole owner of the foundry which by that time had grown to employ over 300 workers at their workshop located at 63 Rue de Lancry in Paris. Ferdinand Barbedienne was made the President of the Reunion of Bronze Makers in 1865 a post he held until 1885. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and the shortage of raw metals caused him to have to stop making sculptures but he did receive a contract from the French government for the production of cannons which kept his foundry open. After the war he resumed his casting of sculptures and put even more effort into signing contracts with various sculptors.
Bullock, George (1777-1818). Bullock was a highly esteemed Regency cabinetmaker with premises in London from 1812-18. His neoclassical designs displayed strong individuality and were in great demand. Documented pieces include commissions for Napoleon's house on St. Helena, Cholmondeley Castle, Speke Hall, Blair Castle, Abbottsford and Battle Abbey.
Butler, Thomas (active 1787-1814). Butler specialized in producing patent furniture, although he does not appear to have taken out any patents of his own. His engraved brass tablet appears on several types of extending dining tables and other convertible (chairs into beds) furniture. His trade handbill states that Butler was 'Manufacturer of the Patent Articles to the King & Queen, their Royal Highnesses the Duke of York & Princesses', and that his bed furniture and mattresses were 'calculated for the East & West Indies…particularly adapted …for travelling'.
Campbell, Robert - Cabinet Maker to George IV when Prince of Wales.
Chippendale, Thomas Was the son of a Worcestershire carver, and established himself in business in Conduit Street, London, in 1749, removing to more prominent premises in St Martin's Lane in 1752. His book, entitled "The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director" was published two years later. After his death in 1779 the business was carried on by his son in partnership with others at several addresses in London.
Chippendale is considered the master of perspective and proportion. The serpentine front was much employed. Stretcher rails were used only in chairs, etc., having square legs. The so-called "Irish Chippendale" presents a heavy appearance by comparison with genuine Chippendale. The carvings are not so sharp or deep, being flat and lifeless. Chased mounts and bands of brass, etc., were occasionally used as ornamentations. Many mid-18th Century pieces were gilt or japanned. Cupid as an ornamentation often appeared in the gilt mirrors, console tables, etc.
Wine coolers were produced in varying shapes, a common form being an octagonal brass-bound bucket with lid and zinc liner on a separate stand, usually with square, but sometimes with carved cabriole legs. Mahogany-framed wall mirrors were sometimes decorated with carved scrolls, cabochons, acanthus leaves, crockets, etc. Wine tables were made with carved edges and centre pieces for holding bottles, and mounted on tripod supports. The anthemion was represented in the cornices of some of the later pieces. Some of the square legs, particularly those of dining tables, had a sunk beading to their outside edges.
Chippendale furniture was not generally highly polished, being treated with an "oil polish" which left a somewhat dull finish. The tracery of bookcase doors often had the famous thirteen pane arrangement associated with Chippendale's work. The lion's-claw-and-ball foot is earlier than the eagle's-claw-and-ball. Couches are not extensively made by Chippendale, but on those he produced the heads were generally in the form of chair backs and not adjustable. Péché mortels were occasionally made. The top or cresting rails of dining chairs were seldom, if ever straight, the line usually being broken at the ends, and/or in the centre. Some of the best chairs had the bottom edges of the front and side members shaped and ornamented.
Chippendale did not produce sideboards, but only side or carving tables, often fitted with marble tops. The cut through tern or cluster-column legs, chiefly appearing on cabinets and tables, were a feature of some of Chippendale's Chinese designs. Tables with sunk or dish tops were much favoured. These sometimes had "pie crust" or "raised ribband" tops, the latter so called from the carved edge resembling ribbon.
Mahogany was discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh and was in general use by about 1720. It was the most popular wood in use, but rosewood was sometimes employed, and in some earlier pieces walnut, all on occasion being decorated with carvings. Many of Chippendale's designs were influenced by the style of the corresponding French period, viz., Louise XV, and were elaborately carved in the rococo style. Chippendale seldom used inlay in his work but relied on delicate carvings, but such inlay as was used was only in the form of a lining or stringing; its presence usually denotes lateness of production.
"Chinese Chippendale", a style in the Chinese taste, was principally represented in the fret (sometimes appliqué) and carved lattice ornamentations. This style was in vogue from about 1754 to 1770.
A favourite design for chair splats embodied the well-known "ribband" pattern, and others the letter "C" or "C" scroll. The "S" scroll was also employed in the earlier examples. The ladder back in another form. "Cupid's-bow" was a favourite form for cresting rails.
Many pieces attributed to Chippendale were made by his contemporaries, such as Edwards and Darley, Ince and Mayhew, and others, especially articles in the Chinese taste. However, they may have been put out by Chippendale to be made, as at the height of his fame it is probable he had more orders to execute than could be carried out in his own workshops.
Chippendale made a great variety of articles, including bureau-bookcases, tripod and dining tables with two fixed and two hinged legs, two- and three-backed settees, card tables, some with give or six legs, commodes, tester or four-poster bedsteads, pole fire-screens, knife boxes, tea caddies, basin or wig stands, etc.
Chubb Charles Chubb was apprenticed as a blacksmith before starting business as a ships’ ironmonger in Winchester. Jeremiah soon joined the business, and by 1818 the brothers had branched out into lockmaking, founding the famous Chubb Company.
The business really got started when Jeremiah Chubb patented his new ‘detector lock’ in 1818. The lock was constructed so that if someone tried to pick it or open it with the wrong key it became inoperable. To make the lock work again the owner had to use a special key supplied with the lock.
The aim of the detector lock was to prevent burglaries, and to warn the owner that someone had tried to break into their property.
The lock soon became popular, and sales of the Chubbs’ products increased even more when they won a government competition to design a lock that could only be opened using its own key.After the invention of the detector lock, the Chubbs decided to move to Wolverhampton, which already had an established lock making industry. By 1838 they were making 28 000 locks a year at their Wolverhampton factory.Another product was added to the Chubb range in 1835 when a patent was taken out for a burglar resistant safe, and in 1837 the Chubb safe works were opened in London.By the mid-1840s ‘Chubb’ had become a household name, appearing in playbills and popular verses of the timeWhen Charles Chubb died in 1846 his son John took over the business.The firm remained in Wolverhampton, and continued to make locks, keys and other security products under the directorship of members of the Chubb family until well into the 20th century.Chubb locks are still made in Wolverhampton today.
Cobb, John (d. 1778) - Cabinet Maker to George III in partnership with William Vile. Several examples of his work are in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace.
Cobb, John (d. 1778) - Cabinet Maker to George III in partnership with William Vile. Several examples of his work are in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace.
The firm continued to produce very high quality items of furniture and soon began to experiment with new materials and designs, becoming especially renowned for their distinctive combinations of rosewood and ivory and their intricate Italianate arabesques, chimeric figures and scrolling foliage. This form of decoration clearly points toward the involvement of Stephen Webb, Collinson & Locks chief designer who was later appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art.
Edwards & Roberts The firm Edwards & Roberts was founded in 1845, and had premises at 21 Wardour Street London. By 1892 they occupied more than a dozen buildings in Wardour Street, where they continued to trade until the end of the century.
They became one of the leading London cabinet makers and retailers working in a variety of styles, both modern and revivalist. Their business also involved retailing, adapting and restoring the finest antique furniture and there are many examples of their earlier furniture with later embellishments bearing their stamp.
Edwards & Roberts specialized in Marquetry, inlay and Ormolu
Elkington & Company George Richard Elkington, born in Birmingham in 1801, joined the family firm, and in the late 1830s opened a large factory for the manufacture of ‘electro-plated wares’ in expectation that his experiments with a revolutionary method of electroplating.. In the early 1840s his experiments with an electrolyte incorporating potassium cyanide succeeded, and the Great Exhibition of 1851 assured his fame and posterity, as he was allowed to make reproductions of the Royal silverware; he opened shops in Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, and initially in Cheapside London, and extended to premises in Regent Street. Elkington worked in silver as well as electroplate, and exhibited at every International Exhibition between 1851 and 1900.
Erard The founder of the world renowned company of piano and harp makers, Sebastian Erard was born in Strasbourg on 5th April 1752. He moved to Paris in 1768 and worked for an unknown harpsichord maker. His ability brought him to the notice of Louis XVI, who protected him against complaints by other instrument makers and granted him a licence on his own authority. In 1777 Erard made his first square piano, with a five octave range, and bichords, graduating to making for Marie Antoinette, a combination organ and piano, with a double keyboard.
The revolution of 1789 destroyed his business in Paris and in 1792 he opened a factory in Great Marlborough Street, London. , leaving his revolutionary minded brother Jean-Baptiste to carry on the French branch. According to the London Post Office Directory, he opened an English branch as early as 1786, at 18 Great Marlborough Street, London.In 1802 they moved to 189 Regent Street, and then in 1804 to 158a New Bond Street, London.
As an inventor and ground breaking innovator, he patented improvements to the piano and introduced the double action harp. He introduced loud and soft pedals to the piano. The concert harp of today basically maintains his original design, as does the roller action for grand pianos.
Gibbons, Grinling (1648-1721). An exceptionally gifted naturalistic carver famous for his cascades of lifelike blossoms, fruits, and foliage. Such decoration dominated 17th century interiors including Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, as well as Badminton, Burghley, Petworth and other great country houses. Gibbons was appointed master carver to King George I.
Gillows & Co. A leading firm of English cabinet-makers, with premises in both Lancaster and London and who, during the 18th and 19th centuries, produced well-designed furniture of the highest quality. Founded in about 1727, the firm thrived by adapting to the needs of a changing society and recognized the potential offered by the expanding middle class market. Gillows became a large company, both designing and manufacturing furniture to the very highest standards, so much so that they supplied the aristocracy and gentry of England at the height of the Empire. They had a ready response to fashionable demand and eventually led the way in the 19th century with some of the finest quality furniture ever produced in England.
Hepplewhite, George (1721-86) Cabinetmaker and furniture designer whose designs in his posthumous book, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide, published in 1788, epitomized the neo-classical style of the late 18th century. Some of the satinwood tables painted panels. Round shaped large handles were used.
The arms of the early elbow chairs were often padded. Square tapered legs were largely used. Hepplewhite is best known for his chairs and sideboards. A large number of his chairs were of shield shape. The strings of tapered bell flower or husks, the prince of Wales feathers, drapery, vases and wheatears were features in his carvings.
Holland & Sons Originally founded in 1803 by Stephen Taprell and William Holland, a relation of the architect Henry Holland, the firm of Holland & Sons soon became one of the largest and most successful furniture making companies in the 19th Century. The firm worked extensively for the Royal Family, taking a leading part in the decoration and furnishing of Osborne House, Sandringham, Balmoral, Windsor Castle and the apartments of the Prince and Princess of Wales at Marlborough House. Holland and Sons also Worked extensively for the British Government, for whom they executed over three hundred separate commissions, including the Palace of Westminster, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the State funeral of the Duke of Wellington. Among their private commissions the firm produced a celebrated suite of bedroom furniture for the late Sir Harold Wernher at Luton Hoo.
Always at the forefront of fashion, Holland & Sons employed some of England's leading designers and participated in many of the most important international Exhibition of 1855 and the international exhibitions of 1862,1867,1872 and 1878.
Hope, Thomas (1770-1831). Art collector, author, architect and furniture designer whose name is synonymous with severe neo-classical form to this day. He studied architecture and traveled extensively as a young man, settling in London in 1795 where he displayed his large collection of antique vases and sculpture in two homes, one in London on Duchess Street and one in Surrey, Deepdene. His published designs in Household Furniture and Decoration (1807) helped to expand the taste for the neo-Greek and Egyptian styles.
Ince & Mayhew (active 1759-1803). The partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew, designers, cabinetmakers and upholsterers, was in business from 1759-1803. They collaborated in producing a series of over 300 designs, issued between 1759 and 1762, and made Gothic, Chinoiserie and neo-classical furniture. Bills from numerous well-known country house archives document some of their masterpieces.
Jamar, S. (active 1818-26). Jamar's French Empire style furniture almost certainly indicates a Continental training. His pieces were often stamped (in the French manner), and the designs were clearly inspired by Percier and Fontaine. Carefully matched mahogany and rosewood veneers exemplify his cabinetwork, and his rich ormolu mounts were most likely imported from Paris.
Jennens & Bettridge (active 1816-40). This large firm was renowned for a broad range of papier mache products, from tiny card cases to parlor and bedroom suites. Together with Henry Clay, they were the major producers of papier mache in early 19th century England.
Johnstone, Jupe & Co. (active 1835-40). Robert Jupe patented a design for a circular extending dining table with a segmented top in March of 1835, and soon after these dining tables were being produced by Jupe and his partner John Johnstone on New Bond Street in London.
Kauffmann, Angelica (1741-1807). Painter and Royal Academician employed by the Adam brothers for decorative painting on walls and ceilings. Many of the small, exquisite medallions painted on contemporary furniture were certainly inspired by her designs, if not actually executed by her.
Kent, William (1686-1748). An early 18th century architect and designer associated with the use of decidedly classical elements in both his architectural and furniture designs. His furniture is massively solid and richly carved.
King, Thomas An influential designer who claimed to have forty five years experience as an upholsterer, he published a dozen books from his address in Gate Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, the best known being ‘The Modern Style of Cabinet Work Exemplified’, and first published in 1829, which was revised in 1835, and staying in print until 1862. A promulgator of French design, he offered his opinion that his work ‘blended English style with Parisian taste’.
Krieger, Antoine The German born Krieger arrived in Paris in 1826 with his son, setting up their enterprise originally in the Rue St Nicholas, moving in 1853 to the Rue St Antoine. The quality of their work won them a medal at the 1852 London Exhibition. They exhibited at the 1855 London Exhibition, where they showed, inter alia, a ‘ Piece of Multiple Purpose, but, very expensive’. The company was sold in 1880, and thereafter became known as Damon et Cie.
Linke, Francois Francois Linke (1855-1946) was perhaps the finest ebeniste and bronzier of the late 19th century. He moved from Bohemia to Paris in 1881 where he produced furniture of the highest quality at 170 rue du Faubourg- saint -Antoine, and later established showrooms at 26 Place Cvendome. In praise of his highly individualistic technique, Linke was awarded a gold medal at the 1900 Paris exposition Universelle.
Linnell, William (1703-63) and John (1729-96). William, a carver, cabinetmaker and upholsterer, whose patrons included Sir Richard Hoare and his home at Barn Elms, for which he supplied furniture from 1739 to 1753. He was succeeded by John, possibly his son or nephew, in 1763. Many of John's designs for furniture are preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and their best-known work is at Osterley Park and Shardeloes.
Lock, Matthias (1710-65). Lock was both a designer and a carver who championed the Rococo style in England and published several books of designs. Employed for a time by Thomas Chippendale.
Maples Internationally renown as one of the largest Establishments in the world. John Maple opened his wholesale and retail Drapery shop in London’s Tottenham Court Road in 1841, and his son Blundell Maple, “the Trademan” who to the shock of Victorian & Edwardian society, became an MP, was created a baronet and, as a leading racehorse owner and breeder, was elected to the hallowed Jockey club. Maples also had a workshop and showroom in France.
From the start they aimed at an upper class clientele, not only in London but in the shires, to whose country mansions Maples vans delivered beds, sofas, sideboards, table etc made by their own craftsman and upholsterers to exacting standards.
Royalty came to Maples for “style” colour and design ideas, which matched their own, for cabinet making & upholstery of quality. No palace, no hotel, theatre, concert hall or town hall was in the top league unless furnished and decorated by Maples- the hallmark of excellence.
Marsh & Tatham (1803-40). William Marsh and Thomas Tatham were a highly successful firm, and attracted many Royal and aristocratic patrons. Charles Heathcote Tatham, whose published drawings of Roman antiquities inspired many designers of the period, was Thomas's brother, and certain pieces supplied by Marsh & Tatham for Carlton House are taken directly from Charles's designs. The firm was one of the most important and influential cabinet making businesses of the early 19th century.
McLean, John (1770-c1815) of 55 Upper Marylebone Street, is spoken of with considerable approbation by no less a figure than Thomas Sheraton, who described his workmanship on a piece made to one of the master’s designs as ‘..he finishes these articles in the neatest manner’. Both Sheraton and McLean shared a taste for Empire and Louis XV1th designs, and McLean’s trade card, and in the London Times advertises himself as a ‘specialist in Elegant Parisian Furniture’. McLean was a subscriber to Sheraton’s ‘Cabiner Dictionary’, and his name appears in the list of master cabinet makers of the 1803 edition. Simon Redburn notes in his article on McLean published in the Furniture History Society, 1978, Volume X1V, that ‘ his constant use of mounts in cast and chased brass, the design and form of which appear unique to his work..... I have not been able to trace any of the mounts used by any other cabinet maker’. In our piece, the columns, stiff leaf mouldings and acorn handles appear in other recorded examples of his oeuvre.
After John’s death circa 1815, the company was run by his son William, until his death in 1825.
Monbro, Georges-Alphonse-Bonifacio (1807-1884) was a Parisian born cabinet maker, working from Rue Basse du Rempart, moving in 1861 to Frith Street Soho, where he worked in conjunction with his son until 1885. Specialising in buhl work in the manner of the ancient regime, he showed at the 1855 Paris Exhibition. The Musee D’Orsay has examples of his work, as does the Bowes Collection in Barnard Castle.. Denise Ledoux-Lebard illustrates exmples of his work in ‘Le Mobilier Francais du X1Xe Siecle’ revised edition of 1984 published in Paris.
Morant, Boyd & Morant The well-known firm of Morant, Boyd & Morant was established in 1790 by George Morant (d. 1846) at 88 New Bond Street, London. It continued to flourish and expand throughout the 19th century. By 1852 the firm was known as Morant, Boyd and Morant and had premises at 91 New Bond Street, and by 1858 they had moved to 81 New Bond Street. In that same year they supplied furniture to William Duckworth at Orchard Leigh Park, Frome, which was later sold at Christie's House sale, 21 & 22 September 1987.
Morgan & Sanders (active 1800-1820). Based at 16-17 Catherine Street, The Strand, London they flourished between 1801 until 1820, when it was sold after the death of Joseph Sanders, to their foreman, John Durham, and retitled. Sanders was a highly innovative designer, patenting designs and improvements to, inter alia, ‘ The Metamorphic Library Chair’’ The Imperial Dining Table, and ‘Merlin’s Mechanical Chair’. They worked closely with Rudolph Ackermann, publishing a series of their designs between 1809 until 1815 in his ‘Repository of the Arts’, a monthly periodical. They marketed aggressively, advertising in both London and Provincial newspapers, and supplied furniture to not only the hero of the time, Lord Horatio Nelson, but garnered Royal patronage. They designed ‘transportable comfort’ aiming at the Army and Navy markets, and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and the Royal Naval Museum shows examples of their work.
Perry & Co William Perry opened a shop at 72 New Bond Street in 1817 as Glass Manufacturer to the Prince Regent. The firm continued under different ownerships until the Depression of 1930. Perry produced a range of magnificent chandeliers, generally suitable for palaces. During the second half of the nineteenth century, at least, their name was linked with a particular kind of chandelier. It featured long, slender stem-pieces centring on an urn-shaped section, with generous double-ogee canopies above and a similar shaped dish inverted as a receiver bowl for the branches. Arms were normally rope-twist, often with moulded drip pans. There were seldom glass candle cups, merely a short tube with a saveall. The chandelier would be profusely dressed with graduated festoons of 'double-star' prisms and English 'pear' pendants, often alternating with clear spheres, and below, a faceted, pointed finial. set you back £42,000. Also at the V&A is a drawing of a chandelier by Leopold Jones for the Goldsmiths Hall from about 1871.
The chandeliers for Goldsmiths Hall were mostly supplied by Perry & Co in 1835 against the competition of, amongst others, Copeland & Garrett. Three more were supplied by Copeland & Garrett in 1840 and W. T. Copeland continued to service the glass in the building..
Perry supplied chandeliers to Buckingham Palace, and a pair now in the Adam Room at Lloyds of London were previosly owned by the Queen Mother, and were in use at the Lodge, Richmond Park.
Pugin, Augustus (1812-52). Designer and impassioned propagandist of the Gothic-revival style. He is known particularly for the furniture he designed for the Houses of Parliament in 1836.
Ross, Donald , of 13 Denmark Street Soho London exhibited a drawing room suite at the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London shows a pair of side tables in a similar manner.
Seddon, George (1727-1801). Cabinetmaker and founder of one of the largest and most successful cabinetmakers and upholstery firms in London in the second half of the 18th century, employing at its peak over 400 apprentices and journeymen. One of his most famous commissions was a spectacular painted satinwood combination bureau, dressing table, and jewel case housing an organ, made for Charles IV of Spain.
Shoolbred & Co Shoolbred & Co had their premises on Tottenham Court Road, evolved into one of the first great department stores. Although the firm expanded rapidly, it was not until the 1870's that they turned to manufacturing their own high quality furniture. From around 1874 Shoolbred decided to identify itself with high quality furniture employing freelance designers not only to ensure the quality of their furniture but also to build and protect their reputation.
Sheraton, Thomas was born at Stockton-on-Tees in 1751 and published a book of designs in London in 1791. He is reputed to have died in poverty in 1806.
Inlay work was extensively employed. Brass inlay was considerably used in the late English Empire pieces. Underframing or stretcher rails were seldom used in the chairs. The French style was lavishly imitated and brass finials were often used. The curved legs and tripod supports often had a small foot set vertically. Silver and Sheffield plate handles were occasionally employed, a common form for all handles being the oval. The oval was largely represented in the inlay work, and the serpentine front was successfully embodied in many pieces.
Deep cresting rails denote lateness of period, as does reeding in the legwork. The Prince of Wales' feathers, vases and urns, shell designs and drapery were features of the carving, inlay and painted work. In chairs of the early period the splats did not reach the seats but were supported by a cross rail. The backs were usually composed of four, five or sometimes seven uprights.
A large quantity of the work produced was of the painted or japanned variety, decorated with painted designs. The underframings were often festooned and the leg fronts embellished with strings of flowers. Some pieces with a white ground and gold ornamentation. In some articles woven materials were used, e.g., in ladies' work tables. These were described by him as "pouch" tables. Table supports and chair backs in the Empire style were often in the shape of a lyre, fitted with stout brass wire as strings. Marquetry took the place of much of the carved work seen in previous markers' pieces. Acanthus leaves often appeared in the carvings, and "acanthus swags" were used to relieve the plainness of some of the members, being chiefly employed on chairs. The great majority of the legs were square tapered, but a few of the earlier pieces had turned legs. The square legs sometimes had fine inlay.
Most of Sheraton's designs mentioned satinwood, this apparently being his favourite wood, decorated with inlay or paintings by Angelica Kauffman, Cipriani, Pergolesi, etc. Mahogany was also extensively used, and occasionally rosewood and tulipwood. The inverted bell flower or husk was largely used by Sheraton in carvings, as by his predecessors; strings of them often ornament the fronts of chair legs etc. Veneering was resorted to whenever possible, but exposed members such as backs, legs, etc., were usually made of solid satinwood. Sheraton is reputed to be the inventor of the kidney-shaped table. It is at least evident that a large number in this shape were designed by him to meet various purposes. His chairs with shield-shaped backs have the line of the top rail broken, either by a straight line or panel in the centre, whereas this line is unbroken in the chairs produced by Hepplewhite. Square backs often have "X" rails in place of splats.
In a large number of cases Sheraton furniture was ingeniously fitted with secret doors and drawers and various semi-mechanical contrivances, such as mirrors, fitted to wash-stands and drawers, pivoted pen-troughs, writing slopes, library steps in the form of tables, all of which fold and slide away into concealed places. The "Harlequin" table is a typical example; in this a nest of pigeon holes and drawers can be raised from or lowered into the body of the table.
Sheraton is perhaps most famed for his sideboards. These are chiefly constructed of mahogany inlaid with satinwood, etc., and fitted with sundry conveniences. One style invariably had convex corners, this being the principal feature distinguishing them from those of Hepplewhite, which had concave corners. They were usually mounted on reeded tapered legs, and often had a brass back of "rainceau" design.
Sormani, Paul (1817-1877) was Italian born, setting up his first workshops in Paris in 1847, finally settling in Rue Charlot in 1867, offering works of ‘ a quality of execution of the first order’. The specialty was copies of furniture in the style of the ancien regime. They exhibited at the Universelle Expositions of 1855 and 1867, and afterwards in London in 1862 and were awarded medals for their excellence .
Smith, George (1786-1826). Cabinetmaker, upholsterer and designer to His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. He published several volumes of designs including Greek, Egyptian and Gothic furniture. These became the prototypes of many designs in the Regency style. He is important for popularizing the circular dining table and the ottoman in England.
Town and Emanuel Recorded in the ‘Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840’, published by the Furniture History Society, as being situated at 103 New Bond Street between 1830 and 1840, and apart from being manufacturers of furniture, also dealt in ‘curiosities and antiques’. The late renowned connoisseur Christopher Gilbert records in his ‘Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture’ London 1997,also published by the Furniture History Society, a writing table in the Transitional manner with similar plaques. Their label reads‘ Town and Emanuel, manufacturers of Buhl Marquetrie, Resner (sic) & Carved Furnitures, tripods, screens & c. of the finest and most superb designs of the Louis 14th. Splendid cabinets and tables inlaid with fine Sevres and Dresden china &c. old paintings and bronzes, carvings, oriental and other china, jewellery & curiosities bought and exchanged. Buhl and antique furniture repaired. By Appointment to Her Majesty’.
They supplied a bureau plat to Queen Adelaide, wife of William IV, their label bearing her coat of arms and being recorded in E.T. Joy’s ‘ English Furniture 1800-1850’. This piece is reported in the V&A archives, as having been sold by Sotheby’s in July 1948. A porcelain inset occasional table from the Duke of Beuccleuch’s collection was sold in 1948 by Christies, a fine pair of commodes with the label were with the Butchoff Collection in 2006.
Trotter, William The Trotter Family were associated with the Edinburgh Merchant Company since 1691, and the esteemed William Trotter (1772-1833) established himself in his sole right, after various partnerships, in 1805 in Princes Street. He was the most important, and successful Cabinet Maker in Scotland, and his extensive premises were described in Thomas Dibdin’s ‘Tour in the North Countries of England and Scotland’ , quoting, in part ‘ The locality of this great ..warehouse is rather singular. It is on the ground floor, lighted by a skylight. Of great length, and vistas filled with Mahogany and Rosewood objects of temptation. Of all styles, including the modern form’. The use of restrained and understated decoration, including the reeding, paterae and re-entrant moulding is seen on many of Trotter’s documented works.
Vile, William (1700-67). Cabinetmaker to the Crown at the beginning of George III's reign, the superb quality of Viles' work, much of which has been identified, gives him pre-eminence among 18th century cabinetmakers. He was in a partnership with John Cobb, who carried on the business after Vile's death.
Williams & Gibton In 1784 John Mack established a cabinet making business in Abbey Street Dublin. He continued to trade alone until 1801 when he placed an advertisement in the Dublin Evening Post for a cabinetmaker, as a result of the advertisement he was joined by Robert Gibton.The partnership flourished and by 1803 they had moved to larger premises at Stafford Street. In 1805 the partnership was formalised as Mack & Gibton.
The following year they received the ultimate accolade being appointed as Upholsterers & Cabinet Makers to His Majesty, His Excellency and Lord Lieutenant and His Majesty’s Board of Works.
In 1812 Robert Gibton died and was succeeded by his son William Gibton, at the same time a former apprentice Zachariah Williams, who had married Robert Gibton’s daughter, joined the management, thus creating the new partnership of Mack, Williams & Gibton.
Under this name the firm enjoyed unparalleled success, they retained their Royal Warrant for many years, supplying and restoring furniture for some of the most important public buildings in Ireland including the Four Courts, the War Office, The Barracks Office, Dublin Castle, The Chapter Royal and the Treasury and Viceregal Lodge. At the same time the firm undertook commissions for several major Irish country houses such as Ballynegall. Co Westmeath, Oakley Park, Co Meath and Strokestown, Co Roscommon.
John Mack died in 1829, the firm continued to trade under the name of the two surviving partners Williams & Gibton until 1844.
William Gibton died in 1842. Two years after his death the firm changed it’s name again, to Williams & Sons, finally ceasing business in 1852
Wright and Mansfield Alfred Thomas Wright first came to notice in 1856 as a junior partner in the firm of Samuel Hanson, a cabinetmaker and upholsterer trading from 16 John Street (later Great Portland Street), and 106 Oxford Street. The company was joined by George Needham Mansfield, son of the old established builders and decorators George Mansfield, of Grays Inn Lane and Wigmore Street, and the firm is recorded in Post Office journals as Hanson, Wright and Mansfield at the above addresses until 1861, when Hanson died. Thereafter the company traded as Wright and Mansfield, and swiftly rose to prominence after their exhibits at the 1862 International Exhibition held in London, on the site of what is now the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. Attended by over six million visitors, despite the death in 1861 of Prince Albert, and the absence of Queen Victoria, who was still in mourning. The Art Journal Catalogue of the International Exhibition, and J.B. Waring’s ‘ Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture’ of 1862 record their work, and two bookcases, and a fireplace constructed of ‘Ginn’ or ‘Gean’ wood, with inset Wedgwood plaques were illustrated, along with a piano, painted in the manner of George Brookshaw, and commented upon and favourably compared to the Eighteenth Century work of ‘Adelphi’ Adams. The progress and incredible quality presented by the exhibitors occasioned Eugene Rouher, the prominent French statesman, after the exhibition to form a committee, taking as a premise ‘ the results of the Exposition prove, that if rapid progress is not made in France, we will quickly be outstripped by our rivals’. At the 1867 Paris Universelle Exposition, a remarkable satinwood, marquetry, bronze and Wedgwood mounted cabinet won a Gold medal, the only time such an honour was bestowed upon an English cabinet maker, by the judges, presided over by M. du Sommerard director of the Cluny Museum, and M Wilkinson, Administrator de Mobilier de la Courrone. The Gold medal was presented personally to Wright & Mansfield by the Emperor Napoleon the 3rd. The cabinet was purchased by the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert Museum) for the extraordinary sum, in those days, of £800. It remains in their possession today. Their showing at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition attracted wide admiration, and was most favourably commented upon in the journals of the day.
Zucci, Antonio Pietro(1726-1795) - Painter with Robert Adam in Italy, and later worked for him. Married Angelica Kauffmann.