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Furniture (E) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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EBONY: A close-grained black and very heavy wood. Not used much for furniture except for veneering and inlaying. In Italy, Spain and France it was used to some extent for furniture in the 16th century.

EGG-AND-DART: A form of molding, derived from Greek design, made of egg-shaped pieces with dart-shaped pieces between. This design was frequently carved on furni,ture from the 16th century onward.

ELIZABETHAN PERIOD 1558-1603: There are few genuine dated pieces before the time of Elizabeth, and most of those are in museums, but of her reign there are more. The wood carvers were more skilled than those of earlier periods and they introduced new designs, derived from the Renaissance of Italy and France. A strong Flemish influence is also seen. The furniture was massive, straight in line, elaborately carved, and they utilized the round arch, conventional flowers, the interlaced strap decoration, the Tudor rose, the linen-fold panel, and grotesque terminal figures were used as supports. The few chairs were of the wainscot type, with finials on the back uprights. The development of the court cupboard is a feature of this period, in that the upper part was recessed with a canopy at the top. The jeweled bulbs of the balusters supporting the canopy were especially bold and pleasing. The favorite wood used was oak.

EMPIRE PERIOD 1793-1830: The chief material for furniture of this period was mahogany, both solid and in veneer. The types of design are of two kinds, one the Egyptian, the other the Classical. Both motives are so intermixed as to be difficult to distinguish from each other. The lines were mostly straight. It has frankly been said by one critic that "the style of the Empire period is least interesting and least French of all of the styles developed in France. " Strictly speaking, the Empire period means Napoleon. In construction it was heavy by comparison with other styles. Its influence, however, spread to other parts of Europe and to America. In 1808 a book was published in England, containing designs mostly copied from French Empire patterns, which did much to popularize the style there. However, it lacks every one of the qualities that give charm to the French Empire Period. The furniture of the French depended largely for its excellent effect upon the beautifully chased, classic ormolu mounts with which it was lavishly decorated, and by the rich and vivid colorings in. upholstery, contrasted with the mahogany and ormolu. Deep green, red, royal blue and purple were the colors used. The chairs were of simple construction and small; tables were usually round with marble tops and with a central carved pillar with three carved feet on the floor. The beds of the period approach more nearly the modern type. Simplicity of style and rather heavy design were characteristic of this period.

In this country Duncan Phyfe utilized the Empire period with charming effect at first, and the cornucopia motif with paw foot was used by him and by others quite extensively. The styles of the Empire period were very popular in New York. Later developments of the period in this country were heavy and clumsy furniture and the use of black walnut and rosewood in construction. The work of John H. Belter of New York is a conspicuous example of this later period. He supplied many New York families with this type of furniture.

ENDIVE SCROLL: A carved ornament seen on furniture of the Chippendale style.

ENGLISH FURNITURE: This subject is treated under the headings of the periods from Tudor to Empire and of the styles of the four master craftsmen of the 18th century, Adam, Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton, to which the reader is referred for details.

ENGRAILING: Cutting the edge of a board to design.

ESCALLOP SHELL: Ornament in use first half of 18th century, derived from the badge of the Crusaders who had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

ESCRITOIRE: French name for writing desk or bureau. See SECRETARY.

ESCUTCHEON: A shield and crest carved ornament, frequently seen on furniture. Also it is applied to the brass fitting for a keyhole.