ECLECTICISM

In 1815, after the fall of Napoleon, Louis XVIII became King of France. Though he continued the revival of the classical styles that had been so popular in the court of his brother, Louis XVI, the Empire style soon evolved into the Bourbon "Restoration." This classical revival did not depend on the precise rendition of former styles. Rather, updated versions of past styles came into being, mixing new technologies with older styles. This trend coincided with the enormous development of industrialization and the ability to mass-produce work. But as the French political structure came to an end with the revolution of July 1830 and with the end of the Bourbon line in 1848, new design ideas as well as fresh political incentives emerged.

In the mid-1800s, there was a growing and increasingly prosperous middle class whose new wealth and social aspirations provided opportunities for enterprising and inventive furniture manufacturers. Improved communication along with rail and ship transportation made new ideas and fabrication methods accessible to larger numbers of people. An exam­ple of this can be seen in the ebonized sideboard (Figure 10.43) with silver-plated fittings fabricated by E. W. Godwin (1833-1886), an architect, interior decorator, and furniture designer, whose career began in Bristol, England. Godwin specialized in ecclesiastical and Gothic revival works, but his work was influenced by the asymmetry and simplicity of Japanese design. It was characterized by the deliberate balance of vertical and horizontal members, ebonized finish, and contrasting hardware elements.