Eastern Influence On Furniture
The arts and crafts of ancient Egypt came from farther East. Biblical records tell of Assyria and Babylon, and of Judea and Persia. Modern discoveries confirm those accounts of an ancient civilisation with furniture and luxurious upholsteries, such as were possessed by kings and their courtiers, but the richness of the palace furnishings of those Eastern potentates contrasted with the scantiness of the surroundings of their followers and dependents.
The Chinese developed an art almost entirely their own ; contact with neighbouring countries spread its principles, and early influenced the arts and crafts of Europe. Ancient Greece caught the infection, and raised art to a higher pitch, by the better knowledge of human form possessed by Grecian artists, who added to Chinese art by more realistic and less conventional ornament..
Classic art spread ; the artists of Greece were carried captive to Rome, so that they might teach the Roman workmen, and so the knowledge of art went West. Wherever Roman legions conquered the arts and crafts of Rome followed and were practised. Thus when Britain was occupied, the manufactures of this country were replicas of those objects with which Roman generals were familiar at home.
Notwithstanding the influence brought to bear by other nations, and the interchange of commerce which has at all times spread knowledge of commodities hitherto unknown, there have been always the modifying influences of environment, and thus styles have been created, and new requirements peculiar to certain peoples and countries have stimulated the genius of makers, and enabled them to set up national designs. Here and there new schools of design have been created as the outcome of national ideas. Thus there has been an independent art in India throughout the centuries, although in its application there are traces of early Greek and Mahometan influences, and in more modern days native art in India has been influenced by contact with the Western World.. Near at home there have been strong evidences of national thought influencing styles to a greater extent than outside influences. Thus in Ireland independent lines have been taken by crafts-men, and styles evolved quite different to those which have sprung into existence in Great Britain, although traceable to the same sources.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )