Furniture Styles - Prevailing Styles
Well-defined styles—Gradual and yet complete changes—Some definite features.
BEFORE considering in detail the furniture of the different periods in this country's history, and tracing the evolution of household furniture from remote ages, together with the influences which have governed its progress, it will be well to point out briefly the styles which have predominated.
When the principal styles which have prevailed at different periods have been grasped, the home connoisseur is prepared for the more difficult study of the minor details of design, which mark different periods and the more gradual changes in intermediate styles.
From the very commencement there appear to have been well-defined styles. At first they were very primitive, and related chiefly to form. Then followed decoration and ornament ; as these were controlled by a varying quality in the artist's work. there was less conformity to approved plans, and at each point when some one struck out on new lines there were varied interpretations of that style by copyists who followed it. There were, however, at every period plenty of followers, but few leaders. There-fore, when one man showed greater originality combined with strength and determination of purpose, he forced a new style of ornament until it became general.
Again style progressed according to the circumstances of opportunity. Style changed as new materials came into vogue, because not only did certain woods, inlays, and veneers give greater scope to artistic minds, but the effect was different. In the Age of Oak there was plenty of scope for the strong and vigorous cutting of the carver ; those were mediaeval days, followed by the Renaissance, which gave many opportunities to the genius of the artist-carver. The Age of Walnut, which produced a smooth surface, yielded different results, and brought into being another style. Then when mahogany became known the carver of those marvellous scrolls, of which Chippendale was the chief exponent, revelled in the new material, which builders had rejected as " too hard to cut."
( Originally Published Early 1900's )