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Queen Anne Furniture
Queen Anne was the English sovereign from 1702 to 1714. The furniture style which carries her name reached its height of popularity in our country around 1720 to 1760 and is even today immensely popular.
The cyma curve (from the Greek meaning wave form or double curve) characterizes Queen Anne furniture. The artist William Hogarth (1697-1764) called the cyma curve "the line of beauty" and it is referred to by some as the "Hogarth curve." This term is particularly familiar to those of you who are flower arrangers.
The cyma curve is apparent in the familiar cabriole legs, chair backs, broken pediments, and skirt outlines, providing eye-pleasing curved lines to this comfortable furniture.
Chairs had upholstered slip seats, cabriole legs, either carved or plain and usually terminating with Dutch or pad feet, occasionally with ball and claw. The backs were either straight or spoon shaped for comfort, with a solid splat in the form of a vase or fiddle, thus giving rise to the common name of fiddle-back.
The all-upholstered chair was introduced for the first time in the form of the comfortable wing chair.
The rather plain highboys which appeared in the William and Mary furniture now became exquisite, tall, stately furniture, often topped with a broken arch pediment again in the familiar cyma curve. Lowboys, secretaries and corner cupboards were made, all with grace of line and simple in ornamentation.
Shells were the favorite carving ornament and appeared frequently on all kinds of furniture-knees of cabriole legs, cresting of chair backs, middle drawers and aprons of cabinet pieces-and was often seen as the central motif of carved designs.
Surfaces were for the most part plain without paneling or molding. Carving and ornamentation were simple in order not to detract from the beauty of line. Lacquer and veneer were used but inlay and marquetry passed out of fashion.
Walnut was the most-used wood, to the extent that Queen Anne is often called the "Age of Walnut." Curly maple was also popular in our country, and many fine examples are to be found in this decorative wood. Cherry, maple and gum were other woods used. Towards the end of the period, mahogany appeared although it was not used to any great extent.
Oriental rugs with rather large-scaled designs were the favorite floor-covering of the day. Chinese porcelains in soft colors, especially in blue and white, were much in favor as they harmonized nicely with the lacquered furniture. Bric-a-brac was abundant during this period and included Delft china and Venetian glass as well as Chinese porcelains. All these might be kept in mind for accessories and lamp bases in the modern home. (A word of caution to the amateur: do not attempt converting china or glass into a lamp base-this is a job for experts. Better still, buy your lamps as lamps already.)
Upholstery consisted of printed linen as well as much needlework. Needlepoint and crewelwork with the ever-popular tree of life design were favored; you might wish to make some yourself if your antiques need re-covering. Damasks and velvets were used, and Chinese wallpapers covered screens against the dark walnut walls. Brass fireplace accessories provided a warm contrast to the robust colors, which were dark, yet softened, shades of reds, blues, greens, copper and golds.