The task of tracing, identifying, arranging in chrono­logical order, and placing on record the scattered frag­ments now available of the history of such English furniture and woodwork as was designed and manu­factured prior to the commencement of the seventeenth century, is, for many reasons, beset with difficulties; indeed, it is greatly to be feared that the story, in absolute entirety, will never be told, for the requisite material upon which to base it is no longer available. In the first place, the cabinet makers of the earlier times did not cultivate the practice of publishing design books, or illustrated sheets; if they did, none has survived to tell the tale. Later on, when we arrive at the “ Chippendale ” period, all is delightfully plain sailing for the historian, but when dealing with work of an earlier date we have to grope about, so to speak, in greater or less obscurity; piecing together as well as may be frag­ments of the story gathered here and there, so far as circum­stances will permit, in order to arrive at an approach to the truth, and be in a position to form a fairly just estimate of the whole. These fragments are comparatively few and far be­tween, particularly when we get back to the reign of Elizabeth —as is, of course, only natural ; for it needs good craftsman­ship indeed to survive the wear and tear of over three cen­turies. Yet, to the lasting credit of the old woodworkers be it

said, much not only has remained even to the present day, but still appears to be “ good" for a few centuries more. Only the “ fittest," of course, has survived. This aspect of the question must be emphasised, as not a few people seem to lose sight of the fact altogether, and draw erroneous con­clusions, which they express loudly, in consequence. Critics from whom better things might reasonably be expected are frequently heard comparing the work of the so-called u good old days ” with that of the modern craftsman, greatly to the disparagement of the latter.

The favourite plan adopted by these “ superior" people is, in the first place, to take some of the masterpieces of days gone by, upon the execution of which neither loving labour nor expense was spared, and place them side by side with commercial productions of the present day, designed and made under modern conditions, and for a totally inadequate rate of remuneration. Having done this, they wag their heads, and enquire :—“ Where is your modern craftsman now? ’’ Personally I think that he comes out of the compari­son very brilliantly indeed. If the greatly-belauded cabinet maker of the sixteenth, seventeenth, or even eighteenth century were placed in the position of his twentieth-century successor, compelled to “cut prices," as the trade term it, and to hold his own against the keenest competition on every hand, which will allow him but the barest living ; what would be the result?

In the name of all that is just and fair, let us be honest enough to look the situation squarely in the face. As a matter of fact, I have no hesitation in contending that many a piece of furniture which may be purchased nowadays for a few sovereigns in the showrooms of, shall I say, the much – abused and extensively patronised Tottenham Court Road, is in very truth, considering the money expended, of far greater value than some of the most beautiful and costly creations of earlier times. And let it be recognised and remembered that we have in our midst now designers and craftsmen as gifted in all respects as any the world has ever seen. Given the opportunity, these men are fully capable of designing and executing work which would rival, and probably surpass, the finest productions of any age or country, but—and there is that awful “but"—it is the op­portunity, and not the genius, which is wanting. The days when artists—I am speaking now of those who devote themselves to the applied arts—enjoyed the gener­ous, indeed lavish, patronage of such men as Lorenzo di Medici, or the recognition and support of the State, as in France during the reign of Louis the Fourteenth, are past and gone—it would almost seem for ever; and both artist and craftsman, as well as art and craftsmanship, suffer as a natural consequence.

It will be well for us, then, always to bear in mind the fact that, with very few and unimportant exceptions, it is only the best and therefore most expensive work of the past which has survived for so long a time ; and that such furniture as adorned the homes of the poorer, and a considerable percentage of the middle, classes has gone to the wall long ago.

With regard to the sixteenth and seventeenth century furniture of our own land especially, it must not be for­gotten that the history of the times during which it was designed and manufactured literally teems with records of wars and rumours of wars. This makes it perfectly clear to the thoughtful student that the condition of affairs then generally obtaining was not conducive to the cultivation of the arts of peace. Indeed it is astonishing that so much has survived as is now to be found in our national museums and private collections. How far the existence of this state of continual political and social unrest is reflected in the forms and general character of the furniture and woodwork of the period concerned we shall discover later, when we come

to consider individually the pieces illustrated by way of example.

Of furniture proper, that is to say portable articles such as tables and chairs, dating from the reign of Henry the


Henry-the-Eighth Armoire (Now in the possession of Mr. J. Seymour Lucas, R. A.) (See below for reference).

Eighth, actual and authentic specimens are all but non­existent ; our knowledge, therefore, of the household gods of that time must, for the most part, be acquired from ancient books and prints. But I am fortunate in being able to illustrate one piece, the authenticity of which is not open

to question—a Henry-the-Eighth armoire, now in the posses­sion of Mr. J. Seymour Lucas, R. A. This is thoroughly “ Francois-Premier ” in character, and it is most probable that the carving was actually designed and executed by French artists and craftsmen, but the construction is un­doubtedly English. Mr. Lucas discovered this example in an old farmhouse, where it was used for the storage of cheeses, and fifteen years elapsed before he could induce the owner to part with it. Yet he persisted, and in the end secured the treasure. It is true that, in spite of determined purification and fumigation, the cupboards are still redolent of cheese, but that is a small matter under the circumstances.

It is not, however, my present intention to go back to so early a date. Our study will seriously commence with the style prevailing at the end of the reign of Elizabeth, with the period when what has become known as the “ Elizabethan " was at its zenith, and almost on the eve of that transition which finally resulted in the evolution of the “ Jacobean.”

It is hardly necessary for me to say that the “ Eliza­bethan " in architecture did not actually attain its highest development until about the year 1607, when King James the First was on the throne. It is, therefore, in the stately homes erected or completed at the time when the rule of the Stuarts was commencing that we find the style at its best, and interpreted by men of the calibre of John Thorpe and other eminent contemporary architects. Of these old residences but few remain in their entirety : those which have successfully withstood the ravages of time and escaped the tender mercies of the destroyer are, however, sufficient to enable us to gain a glimpse of the dignity and splendour of the internal architectural woodwork of the houses in which the “Upper Ten” of the days of “Good Queen Bess ” were wont to live. On the other hand, ex­amples of genuine Elizabethan movable furniture are ex­tremely rare and difficult to find. Those who possess any

may deem themselves fortunate indeed, and are entitled to crow—to use a colloquialism—over the vast majority of their fellow-collectors.

The growth of the “Jacobean” out of the style which immediately preceded it was very gradual, and commenced with small beginnings; hence, in its earlier forms, it is sometimes not easy to distinguish the offspring from the parent, so closely do they resemble one another. Not a few important characteristics remained for a lengthy period common to both styles, with the inevitable result that, when studying the two, much confusion may arise, and consider­able knowledge of minuter details is required to enable us successfully to get over the difficulty. In apportioning the various phases of these styles to their proper periods, we are guided, however, to a certain extent, by the commend­able practice of some of the old wood carvers of dating their works. The figures, as we shall see presently in our illustrated examples, frequently are cleverly interwoven with, and so made to constitute a part of, the carved and inlaid enrichment. A similar course, I need hardly say, was followed by the old Moorish decorators, as exemplified in the incomparable Alhambra, and elsewhere in Spain and Morocco. Genuine examples of English sixteenth and seventeenth century furniture in which this occurs, it is true, are not very numerous, but a few are extant, and they aid us considerably in arriving at a decision as to the approximate dates of other pieces similar in character but not so distinguished.

Speaking generally, most of the seventeenth-century British furniture which now remains to guide us in our studies is of oak; but it by no means follows that oak was the only wood used by the cabinet and chair makers of those days in the pursuance of their crafts; walnut, ash, elm, beech, chestnut, and other woods were also extensively employed. It was the oak, however, which proved to be

most fitted to "brave the battle and the breeze,” and defy the ravages of centuries, in the home as on the "rolling wave ” ; while the less enduring productions of the forest and woodland have long since given way before the strain imposed upon them. Chairs, and not so frequently, tables, are occasionally to be met with in the less durable woods, but these are almost invariably either in a state of extreme dilapidation, or else have been " restored ” out of all re­cognition of their former selves, leaving but little of the original structures to tell the tale.

Of the series of styles with which I shall endeavour to deal in these pages, those which had rise during the century now under consideration present, on the whole, perhaps, the least difficulty as regards general classification ; but to give to each its proper place is not nearly so simple. Still, I think, and hope, that a careful study of the accompanying types, and of the special peculiarities and characteristics of each, will enable the reader to obtain such a knowledge of the subject as will materially assist in the removal of many obstacles which might otherwise lie in his path.

We might reasonably imagine that the whole of the wood­work—furniture, wall-panelling, etc.—of the " Elizabethan,” as of other periods, would partake, to a very large extent if not wholly, of one and the same character, constituting one more or less harmonious whole. That, curious as it may appear, was not by any means the case. A certain degree of relationship is apparent, of course, between the various examples; but, notwithstanding that, a very considerable difference is to be recorded. Broadly speaking, the archi­tectural woodwork of the " Elizabethan ” is marked by a far greater refinement and more perfect execution than is the furniture of the same period, which partakes of a more rugged character; though there are occasional exceptions to this rule. Those exceptions, however, were only to be found among the household gods designed and made for the

wealthier patrons, and cannot in any sense be accepted as representative of the art or craft of the age.

In studying the furnishing of the homes of this period, we must be careful, at the outset, not to forget the fact that, during the early part of the seventeenth century, the great majority of the people, the “masses" as they are glibly termed nowadays, subsisted and worked under conditions vastly different from those which prevail in the present day. We must remember that even the average modern “ desirable villa residence,” imperfect as it may be in our estimation, would have been regarded by the bourgeois of the time of James the First, and of his immediate successors, with feelings not far removed from awe, and the admiration excited by what to them must have seemed models of comfort and convenience would have been unbounded. In those days the family of small means did not rejoice in the possession of separate and distinct dining and drawing rooms ; and such a thing as a “spare bedroom," that joy of the newly-wedded wife, was a sign of opulence indeed. Then, the single apartment, which, be it noted, was not by any means too commodious, was requisitioned to serve many purposes, except, of course, in the homes of the well-to-do; even with the majority of the upper middle classes accommodation was none too generous. Thus it came about, in the natural order of events, that little attention was lavished upon any apartment other than those devoted to sleeping, to the entertainment of guests, and the enjoyment of the “kindly fruits of the earth " ; it is, therefore, to the old bedrooms and living-rooms that we must look first for the most typical examples of the furniture in common use during the period in question.

It will be apparent then, I think, that it is quite impossible to classify most of the pieces of furniture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as having been designed and manu­factured for exclusive service in anyone particular room, such as the drawing-room, dining-room, bedroom, hall, library,

or study, as can be done with the majority of the produc­tions of a later date. They had practically no definite abiding place, but were shifted from one part of the house to another, as occasion demanded, and even from one residence to another when protracted visits were being paid. Of this aspect of the subject I shall have more to say in due course.

Recognising also the fact that much of the furniture now in everyday use is quite modern in origin, so far as form and general appointments are concerned, and having discovered that many articles which are now regarded as necessities were quite unknown to our forefathers of two centuries ago, it is more than a little interesting to endeavour to discover what occupied their places in the early days, and to see how far the requirements of the household were fulfilled by the comparatively few predecessors of the thousand-and-one objects which are now to be found in almost every furnishing showroom throughout the country.

Before, then, entering upon a detailed examination of the individual examples which I have selected for illustration on the plates which are to follow, I will enumerate the chief pieces with which the collector is likely to meet nowadays, dating from the “ Elizabethan ” period.

First and foremost come chests or coffers of many sizes, shapes, and descriptions; and the extensive variety to be met with even to-day in all parts of the kingdom, of unques­tionable authenticity, is proof conclusive that they undoubtedly ranked among the most important and indispensable acces­sories of the English home from the very first institution of the art and craft of the cabinet maker. They ranked next in importance, that is to say, to the beds, tables, and seats of one kind or another, which supplied the requirements of bodily repose and the appetite.

It is not by any means an uncommon thing for writers to assert that the old English chest was the direct descendant of, and inspired by, the gorgeous Italian marriage coffers, or

cassoni, of the Renaissance. Such a statement is certainly not altogether correct, for we must go much farther back to discover their origin. The cassoni, indeed, were themselves nothing more nor less than glorifications, for special occa­sions, of a piece of furniture known and used, ages before the Renaissance was dreamed of, by all classes who possessed any furniture at all; and if we want to trace them really to their source we must search the records of those days when solid trunks of trees were "scooped out," more or less clumsily, in order that they might be utilised for the required purposes. One such is standing within a few feet of me as I write these lines.

The chest, like the chair, table, and bed, was, in the first place, the outcome of an absolute necessity. Provided that it satisfied the requirements which called for its construction, little or no thought was originally devoted to making it grace­ful or in any way decorative. Convenience, strength, and security were the first considerations to be borne in mind. It was obvious that clothes, when they came into general use, had to be stored somewhere, and when once the ball was set rolling, the steady development of fashion in wearing – apparel called for ever-increasing accommodation. With the growth of civilisation the smaller appointments of the house­hold also increased and multiplied ; and, little by little, things which were once regarded as luxuries, unattainable by most people, found their way into nearly every home, and finally came into vogue as articles of constant and everyday use, whose services could not be dispensed with by anyone. Apart quite from the adornment of the body—by no means an inconsiderable matter as time went on—the loom was set to work to enhance the comfort of the bed chamber and beautify the table; and the increase of household linen of every kind and description provided another reason for the devising of convenient and safe receptacles for such domestic treasures. Further, the taking of meals came to be re-

garded as something more than the mere unavoidable con­sumption of food for the sustentation of the body. Dinner, particularly, developed into an important function, at which friends might be fittingly feasted upon the “fat of the land," where good-fellowship could reign supreme, and at which brilliant intellects, pitted one against another, might furnish that “feast of reason and flow of soul"—too often, it has been said, a “ flow of bowl ”—which elevated the mere meal into a feast in every sense of the word. This, of course, rendered it essential, or at least desirable, that the appoint­ments of the table should not only answer the demands of strict utilitarianism, but at the same time should be of such a character as to give pleasure to the eye. Knives, forks, spoons, dishes, plates, and glass commenced to receive the attention of artists and craftsmen of the highest renown. The simplest implements and utensils, which formerly could lay claim to the possession of but small decorative value, or indeed of any value apart from their utility, for they were originally fashioned from the commonest and least expensive materials, were produced in rare and costly metals, wrought and enriched with the greatest taste and skill that influence and money could command. The family plate was raised to a position of rare honour and importance, and was proudly regarded as one of the most cherished possessions of the old English home. Most of this, also, had to be kept in safety somewhere, and here, once more, the chest was welcomed as a satisfactory solution of the problem. In view of all these many and varied demands, it is not surprising that the design and manufacture of that piece of furniture occupied no small part of the time and attention of the old woodworker.

It is certainly not easy for the twentieth-century housewife, who has at her command fire and burglar proof safes, steel and iron jewel caskets, wardrobes, linen presses, chests of drawers, roomy cupboards, box rooms, closets, cabinets, sideboards, and other similar receptacles, devised by modern

ingenuity, to appreciate all the difficulties with which the lady of the seventeenth-century house had to contend, or to understand by what means she could possibly overcome them.

The question “where to put things” has ever constituted a problem most difficult to solve for those of our women folk who are endowed with a love of tidiness, and who would be so bold as to assert that there exists any woman who is not so endowed? So generally is this recognised, that, as time goes on, architects strive more and more earnestly to provide in their houses the greatest possible number of cupboards in the smallest possible space, while the designer of cabinet work racks his brains to satisfy his prospective lady clients in the provision of shelves, brackets, drawers, pigeon-holes, and every other description of hole, corner, and recess which it is possible to imagine and devise. Yet, with all the ingenuity that they can bring to bear upon the matter, the task of giving perfect satisfaction seems to be as far from actual accomplish­ment as ever.

To return to the “ Good old Days.” The necessity for con­veniences and accommodation of the class I have indicated was by no means so great as it is now. Tastes were more simple and less exacting; it was far more easy, therefore, to satisfy them. The same difficulty, nevertheless, certainly did exist then, though in a lesser degree, and the manner in which it was overcome brings us back to the chest or coffer pure and simple. We shall presently mark the most characteristic forms which it took in its earlier stages, as well as make a point of noticing the manner in which it blossomed forth into something far more imposing than the unpretentious rectangular box which was the earliest ancestor of the whole tribe. For the moment we have come to the con­clusion that this piece of furniture, in its various forms, was in great demand, and was, in consequence, extensively manu­factured ; it is not, therefore, surprising to find that examples


of it rank among the most numerous of the relics now exist­ing of the days to which they belonged.

Next in number and importance come seats and chairs, articles of a type more indispensable, of course, than the chests themselves, as it is obvious that we must sit or lie somewhere, whatever may become of our various and sundry impedimenta.

Continuing the list we have sturdy side-tables, developing later into u court" and “ bread – and – cheese " cupboards, “bahuts,” and “ armoires"—ancestors to the sideboard of to-day, though so vastly different in form and character; smaller tables—rectangular, circular, hexagonal, and octagonal, and in some cases so contrived as to fold up ; and last, but by no means least as far as general proportions are con­cerned, four-post bedsteads.

Other pieces not included in the foregoing list may be discovered occasionally here and there, but they are excep­tions, and, as such, will not enter very largely into our calculations.

I have contended that the earnest and well-informed student of the furniture of days gone by cannot fail, if he pursue his studies in the proper vein, to find clearly expressed in the examples with which he has to deal more than a slight indication of the different spirits pervading the ages in which they were produced; and, indeed, it is difficult to see how it could be otherwise. This contention is, I am well aware, far from being a novel one, but the fact is not as generally appreciated as it should be, and I am perfectly confident that, were it more fully realised and strenuously insisted upon, many more people would be inclined to pay greater attention to a study the pursuit of which positively teems with interest and delight.

Owing to ignorance—not necessarily intentional ignorance —the subject is regarded at present by some as an unpleasant and incomprehensible u craze" for raking over and “rum-

maging” among objectionable, dusty, and worm-eaten stuff, which in their estimation should long ago have been relegated to the dustbin, or have been chopped up for firewood.

We are told that there are sermons in stones. If that be so, and unquestionably, if accepted in its proper sense, the statement cannot be refuted, surely there is many a story “ writ large " in the household gods of our forefathers. Nay, their actual tastes and habits may be judged to a far greater extent from their furniture ; for their places of abode—the eloquent stones of architecture—were, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, planned and built quite independently of any consideration of the individual preferences or require­ments of their possible occupants. On the other hand, their internal environment, the furniture and woodwork with which they were to be surrounded, was of their own seeking and selection, and it is to be presumed that they made a point of acquiring that which appealed most strongly to their ideas regarding what should be, so far at least as the means at their command would permit. If this view of the matter be accepted as correct, it is not too much to claim that a people, or an age, may, to a very considerable degree, be judged by the furniture and woodwork appertaining to them.

Regarded in this light, the study of these old chests and tables, beds and chairs, is veritably fraught with romance. They become animated, and talk with us of times, manners, and customs long since gone by, and almost forgotten ; and we see grouped around them the giant shadows of men and women who have made history, as well as those of the quiet family circle, drawn cosily round the homely ingle, whose deeds, it is true, have never been handed down to posterity, but who, nevertheless, played their part in the great game of life.

The inclination to enlarge upon the romantic side of old furniture collecting is great and hardly to be resisted, but I must not give way to temptation here. I must content myself

with simply indicating that the romantic side really does exist, and with assuring the student that it will reveal itself more and more fully the greater and more devoted the attention he accords to the subject. Regarding in this light the work of the period with which we are now dealing, we naturally endeavour to discover what kind of story it has to tell us, apart from the mere interest derived from the artistic and technical view of its design and construction ; and we attempt to trace, in its lines and enrichment, something of the history and conditions of the people who made it, and for whom it was made. What is its general character, and what can we read in it? Sturdy, often-times to the point of clumsiness ; obviously constructed to withstand the hardest of usage, and defy Time the Destroyer; made in one of the hardest woods obtainable; it is enriched, it is true, with carving and inlay, but in a manner which is comparatively primitive, and there is every indication in these late “ Elizabethan " and “Jacobean" chairs and tables that the age in which they were made was not in any way notable for the cultivation, encouragement, and consequent development of the arts of peace. I need hardly say that the impression which they convey in that respect is in no way misleading. Time and again the country was embroiled in strife for the support or overthrow of one cause or another. The kingdom was split into factions, blown hither and thither, as one or the other party gained the upper hand ; men, and indeed members of the same families, erstwhile the closest of friends, became the bitterest of enemies in consequence of the views which they severally entertained respecting the question of home government.

The old saying, “ An Englishman’s home is his castle,” was something more than a mere figure of speech in those days, suggesting possible invasion and defence of its rights and privileges. No man then knew when he might be called upon to protect himself, his family, and his goods from the raids constantly being planned and carried out by political

opponents, and which resulted by no means infrequently in bloodshed, and almost invariably in the destruction or loss of’ property.

Living under such conditions as these, and finding it abso­lutely necessary to be prepared for the worst, knowing not what any moment might bring forth, it is hardly to be wondered at that our forefathers regarded existence as a stern reality, and had but little time, whatever inclination they may have possessed, for the acquisition of those graces and refinements which go to make life beautiful. They were to follow in after years.

Everything with them was uncertain, from personal safety to the security of every penny they possessed ; and they were compelled to adjust themselves to their political and social environment, and deport themselves accordingly. It is not necessary for me to dip further into a period of English history the records of which will be fresh in the memory of all who peruse these pages, except to point out, here and there, how certain changes in the government and condition of the people influenced, and are consequently to be traced in, their home surroundings.

One of the first points to be noted in connection with early Jacobean furniture is that plain, straightforward, and simple construction is its principal characteristic, and that under no circumstances is undue elaboration of general form to be expected. If found, it must be classed under an alto­gether different heading, as hailing from some other country, or dating from an entirely different period of time.

I insist upon this, as I am writing, for the moment, of form alone, as entirely distinct from enrichment of any class or description—a phase of our subject that will be dealt with at length in its proper place.

Regarded, then, simply as examples of construction, the cabinet work, almost without exception, is such as might have, and probably very often did, come from the bench of

the skilful and conscientious carpenter, so primitive is it and entirely free from those constructional problems the solution of which was imposed upon the cabinet maker by designers of succeeding centuries. By way of illustrating this statement, let us take the chests, to which reference has already been made. Many, indeed the majority, of them are but little more than simple rectangular boxes, strongly put together, varying only so far as size and relative proportions are con­cerned. Some are raised slightly from the floor, say from three to nine inches, and supported by a roughly turned sphere of wood, a square leg, or a continuation of the end framework ; and some rest flat upon the floor itself. What­ever claim these might make to the possession of decorative value—and many of them, as we shall presently see, certainly did possess that quality—must be credited not to the skill of the craftsman responsible for the “ carcase," as the main body of any piece of cabinet work is technically termed in the trade, but to that of the carvers and inlayers who, when the “ carcase " was completed, and ready to be put together, were called in to enrich it to the best of their ability and so far as considerations of cost allowed. So much for the moment for a brief summing-up of the leading character­istics of the forms of Jacobean cabinet work.

Now a word or two, by way of introduction, respecting the enrichment. This, I need hardly say, was, at the incep­tion of the style, more than a little hybrid in character, partaking to a certain extent of the late “ Elizabethan,” and even, not infrequently, awakening memories of the Gothic, which “died hard.” Notwithstanding the energy displayed by the pioneers of the English Renaissance to kill, or, at all events, supersede the traditions of the Middle Ages by the introduction into the furnishing of the home of what was in those days a “New Art,” the Gothic was not to be despatched at a blow. After the lapse of many a year, the old “ linen” and “parchment” panels, originated by,


and beloved of, the ecclesiastical carvers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, still put in an appearance, though amidst strange surroundings ; and we do not seem to tire of them. They are often accompanied by other decorative detail, the origin of which dates from the days when the carver more often than not found his training in, or under the shadow of, the monastery. This is so all through the “Elizabethan," and far into the “Jacobean” era.

Yet “Jacobean” detail in its purest phases was neither entirely new nor in any way revolutionary; it must rather be regarded in the light of a crude attempt on the part of the British carver to follow in the footsteps of the foreign craftsmen brought over to this country during previous reigns by the command, and under the patronage, of royalty. This is a point that must not be overlooked. Proud as we may be of the position we have won among the nations of the world in relation to the cultivation and development of the arts and crafts, we must by no means ignore the fact that, in these early days, not to speak of more recent times which will call for our consideration later, we depended very largely, not only upon foreign inspiration, but upon the actual presence in our midst of foreign artists and crafts­men themselves. If we look for a moment at the inlay, carving, and decorative painting produced in this country during the reigns of Henry the Eighth and Elizabeth, we shall see that nearly all the finest was from the hands of skilled artists, neither born nor trained upon British soil, but induced to work here for a time at rates of remunera­tion almost princely in their generosity. It sometimes happened, as a matter of fact, that more than one royal patron of the arts was endeavouring to secure the services of the same man at one and the same time, and it was only natural that the highest bidder should gain the day. At all events, they had to be induced to come somehow, and at almost any price.

These men were born and bred in countries where art seems to have been in the very air, and where, too, the most generous, nay, more than generous financial en­couragement of art in all its phases was not lacking. Small wonder that men saturated, so to speak, by the very atmosphere of the Italian and French Renaissance; men who had played leading parts in making those styles what they were ; absolute masters of design and crafts­manship, and artists by birth, to their very finger tips, should be in demand; and we may feel thankful that we are so fortunate as to enjoy some, at least, of the fruits of their genius. They came over to show what they could do, and set an example for us to follow, if we could. But to admire was one thing; to follow quite another. The rare and perfect mastery which they possessed, and which, in a great degree, was a national as well as a hereditary gift with them, was not to be acquired by the conservative Briton in a day—far from it! He did his best, doubtless, so far as his temperament and the conditions under which he lived and worked would permit; but it was an insignifi­cant best at the most. Sympathetic and lenient as we may be, and naturally are, through national pride, we cannot fail to recognise the many shortcomings in these early attempts to copy a style, or rather styles, which were alto­gether foreign to our nature. We might almost say of the British carver of that period that, for no inconsiderable time, he was floundering about in strange waters which were altogether too deep for him, and in which it was as much as he could do to keep afloat at all. The result was that he produced a sort of debased “ Renaissance" which, though effective in its way, we cannot but admit was vastly different from, or, as some say, nothing better than a weak caricature of, the originals which had come to life under the sunny skies and amid the rarely beautiful natural surroundings of Italy and France.

The “Elizabethan” and “Jacobean” were almost entirely devoid of all the romance, fantastic spirit, and extraordinary brilliance associated with the parent styles—the outcome of the temperaments of those responsible for their origination. They were, on the other hand, stamped with the mark of a rugged honesty of purpose created by, and characteristic of, the stern needs of our forefathers of the days of the Armada, of “ Marston Moor,” and a hundred other memor­able conflicts ; men made in a different mould from that of their masters in art and craft, and but little disposed to change their nature. They were, of course, quite prepared to buy furniture, as it was an absolute necessity ; and were not averse to the expenditure of some time, labour, and expense upon its embellishment, provided that the cost were not too great. But what they did have must needs be of a sensible and enduring description, such as would fully please their tastes and satisfy all their requirements ; furni­ture not made for show alone, but designed and constructed to bear the brunt of stern times, when practical utility and lasting qualities were held in the highest esteem, and graces, whether of manner or adornment, played a secondary part.

I have had the temerity to assert that Jacobean decoration, particularly carved and inlaid decoration, was practically a debased version of the Italian “Renaissance” and “Eliza­bethan,” and a brief comparison of the ornamental detail of the three styles will furnish ample proof that this asser­tion, bold and sweeping as it may appear to be, has founda­tion in fact. Let us consider first, for example, the crude, ill-drawn, and roughly-carved, though effective, foliations so commonly employed in the first-named, and we shall dis­cover at once that they are in reality neither more nor less than a sort of school-boy attempt to copy the sparkling and piquant leafage, with its graceful sweeps, scrolls, and delicate veining, of the “Cinque-Cento.” They bear a closer resem­blance to our common cabbage than to the sprightly

acanthus and similar natural forms whence the Italians drew their inspiration. The successions of circles also, sometimes separate and distinct one from another, sometimes interlaced so as to form a connected and continuous repeating pattern, with and without rosettes or other decorative filling in their centres, such as we constantly meet with in the carving of this period, are, beyond any possible manner of doubt, descended from the old Roman guilloche. They were most probably introduced so frequently owing to the fact that they were easy and cost but little to execute, and required nothing more than a slight knowledge of the use of the compasses in the “ setting-out.” Yet, at one and the same time, they furnished an expeditious method of filling awkward spaces most effectively.

Next we find the familiar “nulling,” freely used in cabinet work of the more costly and elaborate class—a feature which hails direct from the Italian—and many other details from the “ Cinque-Cento,” “ Francois-Premier,” “ Henri-Deux,” and “ Flemish,” undergoing a strange metamorphosis when transported from all the associations of the vineyards and sunshine of their native lands to be interpreted by devotees of the strong beer and roast beef of Old England. But having taken a general review of the period with which we have to deal just now, it will, doubtless, prove to be far more satisfactory if we discuss all these points in connec­tion with illustrated examples of the various phases and details referred to, and this we will at once proceed to do.

Now that we have completed our general survey of the influences at work to render the English furnishings of the greater part of the seventeenth century what they ultimately became, it is time that we should analytically examine repre­sentations of typical examples, which will enable the reader to acquire sufficient knowledge of the form and detail por­trayed to decide, without any great degree of hesitation or difficulty, as to the approximate date of any old piece belong­ing to this period. To the “ Elizabethan ". we shall look first, making that the starting-point for our studies.

Those who still retain sufficient recollection of their schooling to recall the fact that their cordially detested “dates" included the item, “Queen Elizabeth, 1558-1603," will, if they have followed the preceding pages carefully, deem it somewhat strange that I have classified this style with those of the seventeenth century. I will, therefore, recall the fact that the “ Elizabethan " did not attain its full development until after James the First had ascended the throne. It is, of course, true that the style was originated during the earlier reign, and, indeed, was assiduously culti­vated in the days of the “Virgin Queen," but it was then young, and had not had time to arrive at full maturity.

I have explained that of furniture actually designed and made prior to the commencement of the seventeenth century, comparatively little remains, and what has been handed down to us in any state of preservation is most jealously guarded in a few private collections, and in national museums. Any aspiring collector, therefore, who entertains the hope of en­countering specimens in out-of-the-w^ay dealers’ shops or



Reference in Text



See 34 .. 34

» 31. 54. 231


Page See 30, 31

33. 54. 231 .. 27


Fig. i. 1, 2.




auction salerooms may regard himself as almost inevitably doomed to disappointment. Even to the vast majority of students they are equally unavailable. As a natural con­sequence, most of us must rest content to note the lines of this furniture from such pictorial illustrations as we may be able to obtain, and even they are few.

Passing on to our examples, and leaving out of our calculations interior architectural woodwork—joinery, wall­panelling, and the like—we shall see that the most complete object-lessons perhaps in “Elizabethan” carving and orna­mental detail generally to be found are the stately and elaborate “four-post” bedsteads—“tester” beds—which have withstood the wear-and-tear of centuries, and bear testimony to the grandeur of the stately homes of England of the days when Drake was scouring the seas in pursuit of glory or booty; when Raleigh was revealing to his friends the mysteries of the pipe and the potato ; when Essex was com­posing his sonnets to his royal mistress; and the “ Immortal Bard ” was moving the people to laughter or to tears by the magic of his wondrous pen. With the bedstead, therefore, we will seriously commence our analytical and comparative study of this period.

Speaking of old furniture whose interest is supposed to be enhanced by some particular association, it is said that Charles Dickens, in a letter to a friend who was an ardent collector, stated, with mischievous glee, that he had discovered a veritable “ find,” in fact no less a treasure than a chair which “the Duke of Wellington had positively refused to sit in!” But, if we are to place credence in the histories that have accumulated round the sixteenth, and more particularly seventeenth-century bedsteads treasured in country houses throughout the kingdom, it would be difficult, if not almost impossible, to meet with a single one which Good Queen Bess had refused to sleep in! One and all appear to be honoured on account of the cherished and cumulative tradition


Подпись: 24that they constituted, at one time or another, the resting-place of that sovereign’s precious and august form.

If all these traditions be accepted as true, we must come to the conclusion that this monarch cannot possibly have enjoyed many waking hours over and above those occupied by her travels from one mansion to another. Be that as it may—and the question of the authenticity of such stories does not concern us much—the genuineness of the date and design of the bedsteads is beyond dispute. It will be sufficient for our purpose if we study them carefully as types of style, and leave the verification of the traditions associated with them to others who may be more immediately interested in that question.

In our study and analysis of the ornamental detail of the “ Elizabethan,” we shall find, as a general rule, that the earlier the date of the piece we have to examine the more refined it will be in every particular. It will bear a closer relationship to the models set up by the Italian and French artists and craftsmen who were brought to this country by the liberality of Henry the Eighth, and by his ministers and court, who desired to enhance the material splendour of his regal surroundings—and of their own at the same time.

It will be remembered that I have pointed out how it was not at all uncommon for French and Italian painters, carvers, and other craftsmen of the highest renown, during the six­teenth century to be paid large sums in order to take up their abode in this country for a space, and work in the cathedrals, palaces, castles, and mansions of royalty and the nobility. Hence arose the English Renaissance, or “ Elizabethan,” as it is more generally styled ; and thus four distinct and most powerful influences were brought to bear in our midst.

First and foremost was that of the pure and unadulterated Italian Renaissance; then that of its French and equally beautiful offspring, the “ Frangois-Premier,” with which came the “ Henri-Deux”; and finally the Renaissance of the


Reference in Text


Fig. i. See 33. 54

.. 2. ,, 33, 46

,, 3. ,, 33, 43, 46


Fig. 4. See 30. 32, 46

.. 5- .. 33. 54. 231

>1 6. ,, 27


Netherlands, which played no inconsiderable part in supply­ing inspiration to the style whose name heads this chapter. That this inspiration was readily and freely drawn from all four sources by the English designer of those times, as well as of succeeding centuries, is amply demonstrated by the work of the period. We sometimes find, indeed, a curious, though by no means unpleasing, combination of the four styles in a single piece of furniture; in fact, this may be noticed to some extent in the bedstead which appears in Fig. 6, Plate I., in this chapter. Let us consider this carefully and in detail.

The manner of building-up the two pillars at the foot end is, of course, Italian in origin, but it is the Italian idea filtered, so to speak, through the “Francois-Premier" mind; while the “strap-work" enrichment of the upper part of the shaft partakes of both the “ Henri-Deux” and Flemish spirits. The generous proportions of the two rotund, bulbous members of the turning clearly bespeak the English taste of that day. It will be seen, then, that the complete scheme is a real melange of different styles; but it must be observed, at the same time, that all these styles, which spring from the same source, are in perfect accord, notwithstanding the many variations of detail to be noted.

What the quaint semblances of animals, glowering from the four corners of the canopy, or “tester," are intended to represent, I would not venture to suggest: they can hardly have symbolised the “ four angels,” whose safe guardianship has assured slumber to many generations for centuries past. All the rest of the carving of that section of the structure is, in conception and spirit, thoroughly Italian—the true Italian of the “Cinque-Cento.” In the four smaller carved panels in the upper part of the foot we have again “scraps ” of “ Henri-Deux,” which might have come straight from the wall-panelling of the beautiful ball-room in the Chateau at Fontainebleau ; but, in the carving beneath, the mark of the sixteenth-century


Подпись: 2 6English carver appears most unmistakably. He had not yet been able to acquire the spirit of the styles which were even then comparatively new to France and Italy, the lands of their origin.

In this last carving we have the early beginnings of that type of panel in which more or less crude leafage of a nonde­script character, outlined by an interlacing “strap," or plain “fillet" or edging of wood, is arranged geometrically— generally as a quatrefoil. In the course of our study we shall meet with this frequently. Finally, as regards this bedstead, the panelling at the head, in the semi-circular arches, is another medley of Italian and less pure “ Elizabethan."

I have fixed upon this truly magnificent old example for consideration at the outset on account of the fact that it would. be difficult to find another piece so exhaustively representative of every one of the essential factors of the style with which we are now dealing; it conveys, moreover, a remarkably adequate impression of the richness of the domestic belongings indulged in by the wealthier classes of this particular era.

So much space has been devoted to the discussion of this one piece, and to the endeavour to trace each individual item of detail to its proper source, that my remarks on other examples, dating from about the same period, and partaking in a greater or less degree of the same character, may be very materially curtailed. If the bedstead illustrated in Fig. i, Plate I., be studied in conjunction with that which we have been analysing, and a careful comparison be made of the various parts, detailed comment upon it may be dis­pensed with. Before passing, however, to articles of furniture in this style, but of another type, yet one more bedstead calls for notice, and that is the one portrayed in the interior represented on Plate IV. This is a study in sixteenth-century designing which many would describe as “ Early Eliza-



Reference int Text. See pages 26, 33, 34, 54, 77



bethan"—which, as regards date, it really is ; but, so far as style is concerned, it would be far more correctly classified under the heading “ Italian," pure and simple. The detail in every part is just such as we find in the fifteenth and sixteenth century Italian work, unaffected by the foreign influences which came into play at a later period.

Of the date of the chest of drawers illustrated by Fig. 3, Plate I., I cannot speak with any degree of certainty, as I have not had the piece itself before me; neither can I vouch for the authenticity of the tables Fig. 6, Plate II., and Fig. 6, Plate III.; but in style they are as typical “Elizabethan" in every respect as we could possibly wish to find. In all three the “strap-work” element is pronounced, and this should be noted particularly, for it is a distinguishing feature, and one most particularly favoured by the English designers and craftsmen of this period. It is, indeed, rarely absent altogether from true “Elizabethan” creations.

I have suggested that this “strap-work," as found in the style under consideration, was largely inspired by the “ Henri-Deux,” but must again refer to the fact that the predominance of that class of enrichment in both the archi­tecture and the woodwork of the Flemish and Dutch Renaissance must also be accounted responsible in a very large measure for its extensive employment in this country. There were other details as well introduced from the Nether­lands which must be borne in mind ; but fuller reference to them will be made presently.

The old cabinet makers of the Elizabethan era did not devote any very great amount of attention to the design or manufacture of articles of furniture specially intended for the comfort of the literarily inclined, but the primitive desk form—the simple box with a sloping lid—was well known to, and produced by, them, though examples are extremely rare. Sometimes it was elevated to a convenient height for writing purposes by being placed upon a table-like base or support,

such as we find in Fig. 4, Plate I., and was thus raised, in more ways than one, to a position of some importance in the furnishing of the home. I may here remind the reader that it was no uncommon thing during the sixteenth century, and even earlier, for other cabinet work of the smaller kind— boxes, chests, and the like—to be provided with independent supports from which the box or chest could be removed ex­peditiously and at will; and the intention of that arrangement is clear. When so supported, they constituted apparently stable, and not unimportant, additions to the furnishing of any room. But, in the days when such impedimenta as “Gladstone" bags and leather travelling trunks were un­known, these articles often accompanied their possessors from place to place; it was therefore essential that they should be more or less portable: hence the adoption of this form of construction. The upper part could be easily carried about—in earlier examples holes were bored through the sides or ends for ropes or cords to pass through—and the stand was left at home for the reception of its burden on its safe return.

Figure 4 is of this type, and is interesting if only on that account; but it is interesting also in that it really marks the first stage in the development of the simple desk from its original form into that eminently sensible and useful piece of furniture the bureau, which came into such general use at the end of the seventeenth century. In the earliest stages, the lid was hinged at the upper edge, as in the ordinary desk ; but it was not long before some inventive genius struck upon the idea of shifting the hinge to the lower edge, so that the inner side of the lid might be used as a writing surface, as in the bureaux of to-day.

The consideration of the supports of this old desk reminds me that a few words on the subject of turning must be said here.

The lathe, it may be noted, was used very extensively in the production of much, if not of most, of the English six-


Reference in Text. See page 35, and Plate 4


teenth-century furniture of the less expensive class. Take, for example, the three chairs that figure on this and the following page. The turning, however, was of a very simple, even primi­tive, character, revealing the presence of little or no fertility of ideas on the part of the designers and craftsmen who availed


Sixteenth-Century English Chairs (Composed principally of turned work) (See above for reference)

themselves so generously of its aid. Instead of a pleasing variety of different “ members," such as is to be found in the turning of the best periods, delighting the eye by their graceful outline and ever-varying play of light and shade, we find the class of work illustrated in the sketches referred to. These pieces called for but limited skill to produce, and could therefore be turned out cheaply, which doubtless accounts


Подпись: STYLE IN FURNITUREfor their having been in such common use. With the steady growth of the “ Elizabethan," and with French and Italian models before him, the English turner, how­ever, saw that he must attempt more ambitious flights ; how he succeeded in them we shall presently discover.

Подпись: SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLISH CHAIR (Composed principally of turned work) (See page 29 for reference) As we still pur­sue our investiga­tion of the cabinet work of this period, the article that calls for our attention next is well worthy of more than pass­ing notice, for it must really be re­garded as one of the earliest pro­genitors of the modern sideboard, though its many descendants, in the course of centur­ies, passed through numerous changes and assumed many forms before they eventually became the sideboards of to-day. It is the “ Court Cupboard," then, that we will now discuss; and in Fig. 4, Plate II., and Fig. 4, Plate III., are represented two exceptionally fine old specimens of this par­ticular piece of furniture.

The “ Court Cupboard," both by its form and method of construction, clearly reveals its early origin. We can see at a glance that it was simply an elaboration of the ordinary, old

Reference in Text. See page 35, and Plate 4



side-table, with a cupboard, or chest, placed upon it. The cabinet maker had evidently considered that primitive arrange­ment carefully, and, having gleaned his idea from it, proceeded to elaborate. The form of the cupboard was altered some­what, and it was made a fixture; an ornamental canopy or top was added, and was supported at both ends by the introduction of turned, or square, columns; as a result, yet another piece of furniture, of a type not previously known, took its place in the Elizabethan home.

Both the examples illustrated, so far as I have been able to discover, are absolutely authentic in every particular. On the one that appears on Plate II., the date is carved to tell us the precise year of its manufacture ; but the presence of a date, however deeply cut and antique-looking, must certainly not be accepted without question as a sure guide. This feature has been all too often relied upon by unscrupulous imitators—to employ no stronger term—to serve as “corro­borative detail calculated to give artistic verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing" shams. When, however, it is accompanied, as in the case in point, by certain other unmistakable indications of true age, its presence is heartily to be welcomed.

The cupboard under notice is, of course, of oak, as was all the best furniture of the period; and depends chiefly for its enrichment upon carving and turning, though the two side panels of the upper cupboard and the centre panel of the lower part provide a variation by the introduction of simple inlay. Upon the employment of inlay at the time of which I am writing, I shall have more to say presently.

The pattern in these two panels, and the border—a “ chequer ” design—above and below, are in ebony or bog oak, which stands out black against the lighter wood of the “ground," while the tulip-like form, with its attendant stems and leaves, in the centre panel of the lower part, is of holly, and is, consequently, lighter than the oak into which it is


Подпись: 32sunk. The turning in this piece, I need hardly point out, shows that, at the time of its manufacture, a greater refine­ment and more variety in the shaping of members had come into play in this class of structural enrichment; and special note should be made of the spiral, or “twisted,” character of that in the upper part. When once introduced, spiral turn­ing, as it is technically termed, came rapidly into vogue, and was for many years very extensively employed, and with excellent effect, particularly in the manufacture of chairs, as we shall see in the next chapter.

Figure 4, Plate III., calls for no special comment further than that already offered, save that we may note, in passing, the presence of the “strap-work” in the upper turned pillars, and the superiority, regarded from the technical point of view, of the carving throughout. Both pieces, however, may be considered as belonging to approximately the same period.

To return to Plate I. for a moment : the chair sketched in Fig. 2, according to apparently well-authenticated report, once formed part of the worldly possessions of Shakespeare himself, and, so far as I am aware, no cryptogram has yet been discovered in the details of its design to upset that tradition. But, if we view the chair from above, the curve of the arms, taken in connection with the line of the front of the seat, will be seen to form most distinctly the half of a В! I present this important discovery most readily to the Baconian theorists. Can it be another link in the chain? Who shall say?

Reverting, with brevity, to the subject of turning as em­ployed in the construction of chairs, the type illustrated on the opposite page is not infrequently found in the Elizabethan, and later, Jacobean mansions. But, more often than not, it was imported from abroad, and cannot be regarded as a home production. We sometimes see such chairs as these described as “ Elizabethan,” but their only claim to that description is to be found in the fact mentioned, viz. :—that they won a

certain amount of favour in this country during the reign of the sovereign after whom they are thus named. Even if some were actually made here, they were Italian, or Flemish, in form and detail nevertheless.

Figure 5, Plate I., I must deal with in my next chapter, as it belongs to a much later period ; so, indeed, do Fig. 5, Plate II.,


Chair of Italian Type

(Not infrequently found in “ Elizabethan” and “Jacobean” Interiors)

(See page 66 for reference)

Figs, i, 2, 3, and 5, Plate III., and the tables and chairs on Plate IV. Some of these, notwithstanding that they are later as regards date than the types we have been studying, retain “ Elizabethan " characteristics, and, for that reason, they are not out of place here. This is specially the case with the massive arm-chair, Fig. 5, Plate III., with its “strap-work" carving in the back; and with the chair above, with its

tastefully enriched turning. Of these I shall say more by-



Подпись: 34and-bye, and I will conclude my remarks on individual examples of the style with brief reference to the cupboard that appears in Fig. i, Plate II. In my opinion this is Flemish work; or, if not exactly from the Netherlands, it is a remarkably faithful copy of a Flemish original. The style of the panels, with their projecting “ lozenges ” in the centre; the semi-circular “ shells " in the arches above them, and the little turned knobs, “ drops,” or pendants so freely intro­duced, taken together with the “ building-up ” of the pilasters, tell at once of the country of their origin, and mark the design throughout as essentially Flemish. The example itself is only introduced here in order to show the closeness of the relation­ship which subsisted between the Renaissance of Flanders and that of our own land.

In bringing this chapter to a close, I shall invite my readers to study, for a brief space, a scheme of interior woodwork which will enable them to conjure up in their minds a more complete picture of the inside of the old Elizabethan mansion as it actually was than they could do through studying mere isolated examples of furniture.

The truly beautiful room of which a corner is limned on Plate IV. originally constituted one of the principal charms of Sizergh Hall, or Castle, in Westmorland. The whole of the joinery and panelling came into the market a few years ago, and was purchased for the nation by the Science and Art Department for the comparatively small sum of one thousand pounds. It was re-erected in one of the courts of the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, where, for­tunately for all lovers of fine old craftsmanship, it may now be studied at leisure, and its charms appreciated to the full. The authorities of the Department displayed the best judg­ment in making this acquisition, for the panelling in question is not only most interesting and valuable as an object-lesson in late sixteenth-century structural woodwork, but is also an exceptionally fine practical demonstration of the possibilities of pure “Elizabethan” marquetry, of which not any too



Reference in Text. See page 35

much has been preserved. The panelling throughout, with the exception of the inlaid detail, is of oak ; and the general structural scheme, with its graceful pilasters, surmounted by Ionic capitals, and colonnade of arches within arches, is wholly Italian in character, Italian, moreover, of the best period of the “ Renaissance." In the long broad bands of the enrichment, which is in holly and bog oak, the effect is more than a little suggestive of the sgraffito, which was employed so extensively by the architects of the “ Quattro-Cento" and “ Cinque-Cento" for the external decoration of their buildings. The frieze of this room, in the old days, was, without doubt, of modelled plaster ; and it is more than likely that the ceiling was decorated by means of the same medium. Time has, of course, considerably darkened the tones of the woodwork; but, in its original state, with the black bog oak and almost white holly, standing out in contrast to the oaken “field," the effect must have been delicate and charming indeed, and very different from that of the sombre interiors usually asso­ciated with the period. The long panels with the diamond­shaped centres have the “strap-work" feeling, but the detail is more free and less conventional in treatment than actual “strap-work" usually is. This panelling is of a character so exceptional that I have deemed it worthy of being presented to greater advantage than is possible in complete interior form, so on Plates V. and VI. it will be found drawn to a larger scale. The reader, therefore, will experience no diffi­culty in marking even the minutest characteristics, and will gain a truer conception of the beauties of the whole scheme. All the furniture in this room, apart from the bedstead, which has already been discussed, is of a period later than that to which the panelling belongs, and represents various phases of a style which we must consider in the next chapter. Another fine Elizabethan interior is illustrated on Plate VII. This may be seen in entirety to-day in “Ye Olde Reine Deere" Hotel, at Banbury. A cast of the ceiling is in the South Kensington Museum.


In studying, and attempting to arrange according to exact period, English furniture of times prior to the end of the seventeenth century, we have to encounter, and overcome as well as we can, difficulties that are not to be met with in the work of later times. In the century following, for example, and for the first time in the history of our craft, certain designers and manufacturers of cabinet work rose, by force of their own originality and genius, from the ranks of their fellow-artists and craftsmen, and became known and dis­tinguished individually by name. They created distinct styles on lines selected by themselves, and those styles won the approval of the cultured public to so extraordinary an extent that nearly every other designer and maker of the time was content to copy them; indeed they became the order of the day, to the almost total exclusion of every other mode which was not in accord with them.

This being the case, and knowing as we do, almost to a year, the periods during which these notable men worked, the dates of the publication of their design books, and the names of many of their noble patrons, it is the simplest thing imaginable to classify their productions correctly, and place them in chronological rotation. All that we need trouble ourselves about with regard to them is to acquire a know­ledge of the different characteristics by which one may be distinguished from another.

A century earlier we have no such assistance; there is no Chippendale, Heppelwhite, or Sheraton, to serve as a land­mark ; the names of individual workers and creators of style were not then held in popular esteem, and, indeed, so



Reference in Text



See 54

• . 54, 55- 231 ,, 4°, 42



Fig. 4. See 40, 52 m 5- ,, 40, 41

.. 6. „ 55


Fig. i. ,, 2. и 3-







small was the notice taken of them that they were never placed on record. So, in the course of time, they have been lost to us for ever. It is interesting to note, moreover, that it was only during the second half of the eighteenth century


Seventeenth-Century Bedstead

(Illustrating the employment of “Gothic,” “Elizabethan,” and “Jacobean” detail in one and the same article. Probably “restored,” or “made-up”)

that leaders in this craft were distinguished from their fellows; for the desirable practice of giving them “a local habitation and a name," which soon fell into disrepute, dis­appeared altogether at the commencement of the century


following — the nineteenth — and has never since been revived.

Even to-day we are aware, it is true, that our household gods were supplied by such-and-such a firm, whose title may possibly be known the world over ; but we are equally well aware that the individual, or individuals, whose title, or names, that particular firm bears, though they may be eminent politicians, winners of the Derby, men of letters, or perfect boon companions, are certainly not designers, nor even manufacturers, of furniture ; and the chances are that they could not draw a chair leg decently if they tried, much less design or make one. It is to these firms that the Chip­pendales, Heppehvhites, and Sheratons of our day look for a living, though not for fame, for they know full well that their names will be left carefully in the background — as securely hidden as possible. It must be noted that I am not now discussing the question whether the existence of such a state of things as that I have pictured be desirable or not, but am simply recording it, as showing how conditions change in the course of centuries. I may, however, mention in passing that a brave and determined attempt was made some years ago by a number of the disciples of William Morris to bring the artist and craftsmen to the front again ; to rescue them from the obscurity in which they have been overshadowed by purely commercial considerations for so long, and distinguish them from the mere “ middleman " or “ tradesman." The story of that attempt must be dealt with at some length in another chapter. Suffice it to say now, that “ the trade" was far too strong for these would-be re­formers—the greater the pity. But of that more anon.

In our study of the “Jacobean," then, it is useless for us to look for names of individual artists or craftsmen ; and even if a few isolated examples could be brought to light, as doubt­less some might by dint of much patient research in ancient archives, they would convey but little to our minds, and their


Подпись: FisПодпись:Reference in Text

. r<’gc

Tig. 4. See 40, 46, 48, 49, 52 " 5- ..44. 54. 231

.. 6. ,, 43, 64

.. 7• .. 44

discovery would prove of but small practical value in the pur­suit of the inquiries we have in view.

Failing such aid, we must make it our aim to note the characteristics instead of the names of designers and crafts­men, and classify these as well as we can. It will be well for me to make clear here that, in the selection of examples by the examination of which I hope to convey a complete and correct impression of “Jacobean" furniture, I have been as careful as possible to confine myself to pieces actually made during the earlier part of the Stuart times—that is to say, during the period that elapsed between the years 1603 and 1688, a period which, I need not point out, includes the Common­wealth. What happened in the domain of furnishing under William and Mary and Anne, Stuarts though they were, does not come under the present heading, and must be considered quite separately. .

In my introductory comments upon early seventeenth – century English furniture, I have stated that, broadly speak­ing, the cabinet work of that age was characterised throughout by extreme simplicity of construction and severity of form, and it is now time for me to fulfil my promise to justify that remark by actual demonstration, which is easily done.

Even the ordinary casual observer, who knows as much about the technicalities of cabinet making as he does about differential calculus, will be able to see at a glance that, practically without exception, the whole of the cabinet work —that is to say, chests, cupboards, and the like—shown on the plates in this chapter, is, so far as construction is con­cerned, of so straightforward and elementary a type that it would present but small difficulty in execution even to the least experienced of professional cabinet makers. Indeed, there are not a few amateurs rejoicing in the possession of a bench and tools at home who might be trusted to accomplish creditably such simple tasks.

The most elaborate of all the pieces are the cupboard,


Подпись: 4оcabinet, or press, Fig. 4, Plate I.; the " Bread-and-Cheese" cupboard, Fig. 4, Plate II. j and one or two other similar types ; and even they are free from all constructional difficul­ties, save such as are mastered in the А В C of the craft. It will be clear, then, that but very little study will enable any­body possessed of average intelligence to master quickly the general forms of the Jacobean " carcase." The next step is to acquire an equally complete knowledge of the ornamental detail, carved and inlaid, by the addition of which it was determined, in the old days, that those forms should be rendered pleasing to the eye. Here our task becomes some­what more varied, and calls for more extensive study, though it cannot even then be regarded in any sense as difficult.

The importance of the part played by the oaken chest in the sixteenth and seventeenth – century home has been so strongly insisted upon in my introductory review that, in considering which of these household gods to deal with first, we cannot do better than fix upon this honourable and honoured ancestor of so many modern articles. I have been exceptionally fortunate in securing a goodly variety for examination, so that every type that can be regarded as in any degree characteristic is represented in one or other illustration. Of these I may say at once that they are, with­out exception, made of oak, and that the enrichment is almost invariably carved, though it is, in rare instances, relieved by a touch of inlay here and there.

With regard to this carving, a word or two as to classifica­tion may be given at this stage. Much of it is of the descrip­tion technically known as "flat”; that is to say flat surfaces predominate in the design, being thrown into relief by the spaces round and between them having been gouged-out, or "sunk,” by means of the gouge or chisel—as, for example, in the chest portrayed in Fig. 3, Plate I. Much more is of the "modelled” type of carving, as in the chest, Fig. 5, Plate I.; but none ever projects beyond the general surface of the


Reference in


Fig. i. See 43, 44, 54, 55 ,. 2. ,,64

,, 3. „ 43, 44, 48



Fig. 4. See 42, 43

,, 5. ,, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 52

,, 6. „ 44, 64

,. 7. „ 49, 51, 52






article so decorated, or, rather, it is very rare indeed for it to do so. In order to keep to this rule, the carving, whenever employed in very high relief, was almost invariably sunk deep into the panels, so that even those details which stood out most prominently from the ground were still on, or below, the plane of the surface.

Over and above these two classes of carving, the chisel and gouge, more particularly the latter, were employed in yet another way, producing a result fairly effective, it is true, but one which the skilled manipulator of the tools will hardly dignify by the appellation “carving." The method adopted may be described as follows : The design to be executed, consisting usually of simple leaves and stems, was roughly sketched in upon the wood to be ornamented, and, that having been done, the lines of it were merely cut in, or incised, with a vigorous hand, so that, instead of standing out in relief, as in ordinary carving, they did just the reverse. This produced what is now styled “scratch carving"; and as it was very easy to execute, and cost but little, its employ­ment was most extensive. It really belongs, in a measure, to the same school, technically speaking, as the monotonous “ chip carving " over which so many ladies at the present day spend time which might be much more profitably employed, and with such painfully feeble and uninteresting results. But the old work is far more vigorous and pleasing than its modern descendant.

Having made a note of the foregoing explanation, let us observe now how these various kinds of carving actually look in situ; and we will study them first in the dated example which appears in Fig. 5, Plate I. This chest, as indicated by the date, “ 1611"—and the indication is true this time—is very early “ Jacobean," having been made but eight years after the accession of the first of the Stuarts ; yet it is quite distinctive in character, and has little of the “ Elizabethan" feeling about it. In the five smaller panels we have carving of the


Подпись: 42“ modelled ” type, though of a most simple description, and in very low relief. The panels above, with their diamond patterns, furnish us with examples of the “flat” carving already referred to; and the enrichment in the frieze above that, and down the two front ends, is incised. Beneath the panels is a long, thin strip of carving, of a class exceedingly simple to “cut” ; yet it comes out most effectively, and was very largely used at the period of which 1 am writing. Two lines, parallel to one another, were incised ; the long, narrow strip of wood between them was then slightly “ rounded-off,” and so made to resemble what is technically known as a “reed”; in this a succession of notches on the slant was made, as indicated. This gave a spiral effect, much as if a long, thin shaving, or a long “ corkscrew curl,” had been let into a groove. A similar treatment was often adopted on the corners, or angles, of cabinet work ; as, for example, on the lower edge of the “Court Cupboard” on Plate VII. Again, while writing of incising, I may point out the simplicity of the means employed to “ break-up ” the long space just below the diamond panels, which is nothing more nor less than a succession of “ digs ” with the gouge. Yet it serves its purpose. The chest we are at present studying is a rather ornate example, but not by any means unusually so. A still more elaborate one is pictured in Fig. 3 above, in which we find a greater variety of enrichment, though no essential difference in general character. The detail, how­ever, in this case, is more closely allied to the Italian than is that of the former, the repetition of double foliated scrolls, “ tied ” together, reminding us strongly of the “ Cinque – Cento,

In Fig. 3, Plate II., we find the double, or “inverted,” scrolls again, but the panels below them are of a broader character, and display a freer treatment altogether. Fig. 4, Plate III., brings us back to the more geometrical class of carved panel, the class which really predominated at this

Reference in Text


I PaSe See 5s.. 43, 54 >» 44, 55


Page See 44 -> 55 ,, 43


Fig. r.

,, 2.


Fig. 4.


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,, 6.




Подпись: 43period. This is one of the most commonplace “Jacobean" examples of the whole selection, though the smaller chest, with its quatrefoil panels, shown in Fig. 3, Plate III., in the chapter on “ Elizabethan,” is more ordinary still.

With reference to carved detail which is entirely charac­teristic of this style, and which appears and reappears with uninterrupted regularity in much of the cabinet work be­longing to it, I must advise the reader to make special note of that in the frieze, or band, above the three panels in Fig. 4, Plate III., as it recurs very frequently. Note should also be made of the crescent-shaped incisions with which the end rails or posts of the framing are relieved, and which were constantly in requisition in the execution of work of the commoner class. The simple groove, or “ flute," also (as in Fig. 4), was a stock detail; while the succession of circles— the “Jacobean" guilloche, already referred to earlier in the book—in the “ Bread-and-Cheese" cupboard, Fig. 5, Plate III., and in Figs. 2 and 6, Plate IV., is perhaps the most abso­lutely typical of all. This last was sometimes, indeed very frequently, varied by the alternation of squares, or other rectangular figures, with the circles, as in the chest, Fig. 3, Plate III., in the last chapter; and in the upper part of the back of the arm-chair, Fig. 1, Plate III., given here. Both squares and circles were generally outlined by a thin “fillet," or narrow band, crossing under and over itself, which gives an appearance of continuity to the whole, and binds the constituent items of the design together as it were. These rectangular and circular forms, again, were sometimes quite plain, and devoid of any further elaboration; but more frequently they were filled with rosettes and leafage, as in the examples referred to. As regards unmistakably typical detail, the repetition of semi-circles, sometimes carved to resemble shells, and sometimes filled with leafage, is another safe “landmark." It constituted a “running" enrichment both bold and effective, as may be gathered from Fig. 6, Plate II.,


Подпись: 44from the framing beneath the seat of the arm-chair, Fig. i, Plate III., and from Figs. 3 and 6, Plate VI.

The u inverted," or double, scrolls, already referred to more than once, will be seen, in one form or another, in many of the pieces : Fig. 3, Plate II.; the top of the chair-back, Fig. 5, Plate II.; in the centre panel of the chair-back, Fig. 3, Plate

III. ; as well as Figs. 5 and 6, on the same plate; in Figs. 3 and 4, Plate IV. ; Fig. 6, Plate V.; and the “ Court Cupboard " on Plate VII. The number of these instances of the appli­cation of this particular form of detail will prove conclusively that it was regarded with more than ordinary favour by the Jacobean carver. The two remaining chests, Fig. 7, Plate

III. , and Fig. 8, Plate VI., will be dealt with in due course.

The reader will naturally be curious to see what changes came over the “ Court Cupboard " in the course of years, and it will be convenient to touch upon that section of our subject next. As time went on, it was found that the simple chest, convenient as it was in so many ways, had really become insufficient to satisfy the needs of the times, as, on account of considerations of space, it could not be multiplied ad libitum, even in the most spacious home. Useful also as the chest proved for the safe keeping of wearing apparel, linen, and plate, it was scarcely suitable for the reception of eatables such as were frequently in requisition. Hence that prolific parent of the ever-growing family of Invention gave birth to the sturdy offspring which comes next on our list.

There is something very homely, and essentially English about the name “ Bread-and-Cheese” cupboard which I like much. It suggests the hearty, simple fare of the old days, when the prime object of feeding was to satisfy genuine and honestly-created hunger, and not to tickle the much abused and jaded palate with all manner of unnameable confections. It is a name, moreover, which indicates with sufficient clear­ness the purpose to which the article was to be devoted, viz. :— the reception of eatables. It must not be concluded, however,

Подпись: ®*Э]

Reference in Text



Fig. 4. See 49, 52 .. 5- .. 64

• > 6. ,, 44, 54, 55



Fig. i. See — 2. .. 55

,, 3- 64




Подпись: “JACOBEAN”that cupboards of this description were actually of English origin, for that is not the case. They are nothing more nor less than variations of the old French, German, and Flemish "bahuts," or "armoires"; nevertheless, the form in which they appeared, and became popular in this country, was in every respect characteristic of our peculiar national tempera­ment.

To revert for a moment to the name "Court Cupboard," borne by the earlier English type. Some people entertain a vague impression that it is to be accepted as signifying that the pieces which bore it originally took their place among the furnishings of royalty. That, of course, is an error. The word "court," as employed in that connection, must be read in the sense given to it by the French—that is to say, as meaning "low" or "short." It may appear hardly necessary to ex­plain this, but as it is not generally understood, it is perhaps as well to do so.

Scores of old "Bread-and-Cheese" cupboards might be illustrated, for many are still extant; but the majority bear so close a resemblance to one another that to show all would serve no particularly useful purpose, and would exhaust con­siderable space. I shall, then, only indicate a few typical examples, which will be sufficient to represent adequately the whole range of such productions.

One of the earliest "Jacobean" types will be found in Fig. 5, Plate III.; and in studying the class to which it belongs it will be advisable first to note in what essential particulars its constituents differ from those of its predecessors. I have suggested that the earlier type—the " Court Cupboard "—has somewhat the appearance of two separate and distinct articles —the table and the chest or cupboard—which were brought together and employed as a clever makeshift, so to say, in order to serve a particular purpose for which they were not primarily intended, thereby indicating the early origin of their joint use. The "Bread-and-Cheese" cupboard, on the other


Подпись: STYLE IN FURNITUREhand, is in ail respects a more complete and coherent piece of “ carcase work,” and is characterised throughout by a greater degree of homogeneity. On examining the accom­panying types it will be remarked that the former, with exceptions so rare as to be practically non-existent, is always quite open at the lower part (see Fig. 4, Plate II., and Fig. 4, Plate III., “Elizabethan”). It is supported in the same manner as were the tables of the period, by sturdy turned legs, more or less decorated ; while the lower part of the “ Bread-and-Cheese ” cupboard is invariably closed in— is, indeed, actually a cupboard—almost to the floor, from which it is raised, generally some six or nine inches, by spheres (see Fig. 5, Plate III.), “cushions” (see Fig. 4, Plate II.), or sometimes simple blocks, of wood, or else by extensions of the end framing (see Fig. 2, Plate III., “Elizabethan”). This last arrangement was more gener­ally adopted in cupboards of the cheaper class.

The form represented by Fig. 5, Plate III., in which the upper cupboards stand back some nine or twelve inches from the line of the front, and are surmounted by a top or “ canopy ” supported at the front corners by turned pillars, is a very common and typical one; indeed, as will be ap­parent, nearly all the others are merely variations of it. The upper part of Fig. 3, Plate III., “Elizabethan,” bears a closer resemblance to that of the “Court Cupboard,” but the rest of the structure distinguishes it as belonging to a period later than that in which the “Court” form predominated. Of the date of the carving in the three upper panels I have my doubts ; it seems to be almost too delicate and refined for the period, but the piece itself is genuine enough. It is, unfortunately, a very common thing for old chests and cup­boards of this period, which in the first place were almost, if not wholly, devoid of ornamentation of any kind, to have been “carved-up” in later years; so that oftentimes only the expert eye and fingers can discover which is really old










Подпись: 47


and which is new. But “the public will have carving,” says the dealer ; so “ the vandal gouge of the wood-butcher " is set in operation, and old pieces, whose beauty rested in their very plainness and simplicity, are hacked about so far as considera­tions of price will allow, and when finished are regarded as “a lot for the money.” So, indeed, they are ; a very bad lot!

We have discussed “Jacobean” ornamentation at such length that little remains to be said with regard to the deco­rative detail of these old cupboards ; the carving in all of them illustrates the remarks I have already made, and which, I think, were exhaustive, with reference to that element in furniture of the Stuart age.


Подпись: 48In the two upper panels of Fig. 4, Plate II., we have the incised cinque-foil instead of the quatre-foil—not a very serious divergence. All the details of Fig. 5, Plate III., come under our classification again; we must therefore proceed to fresh ground.

Returning for a moment to the question of construction as apart from enrichment, there are signs in the building-up or putting-together of this old carcase work which may be accepted as fairly safe guides where the question of approxi­mate date has to be decided ; and it may be laid down as a general rule that the more primitive—I do not mean “ plain " —the construction the earlier the piece. This may appear to be a self-evident proposition ; nevertheless, it calls for note. Facts which we may sometimes imagine to be generally recognised are very often missed altogether.

It will be seen, then, by reference to Fig. 3, Plate III., in the last chapter, that the ends are perfectly plain—that is to say, merely stout boards planed, “ sanded," and waxed ; but the ends of Fig. 5, Plate III., are composed of framed-up panelling—simple enough, it is true, but nevertheless mark­ing a most important and significant advance; while in Fig. 4, Plate II., we have quite a finished piece of joinery. This may not always be regarded as a certain indication of date, for the first type of end was sometimes adopted in later years to save expense in construction ; but, in conjunc­tion with other signs, it often aids us very materially in arriving at a decision.

We must note, still further, that the more skilful the cabinet maker became in the exercise of his own particular branch of craft — the branch that was occupied with the making and putting-together of parts as distinct from the work of the carver and marquetry cutter, whose duty it was merely to enrich that which was already made—the less was he disposed to cover, or have covered, the surfaces of his productions with carving or other ornamentation. He pre-



Reference in Text. See pages 42, 44, 49, 52, 55, 64, 66





Подпись: 49ferred to let his own skilful use of the saw, plane, and mould­ing-iron tell its own tale without any elaboration. And a most delightful tale it often was.

The old carpenter-made “carcases," he argued, needed “dressing-up" with carving or something, in order that they might be rendered presentable; but his perfect panelling, close joints, and clean mouldings wanted nothing of the kind; they were beautiful in themselves, and so called for no ex­traneous embellishment. As a result of this reasoning, and it was reasoning based on a solid foundation of actual fact, furniture of the class represented by Fig. 4, Plate II.; Fig. 7, Plate III. ; Fig. 4, Plate V. ; Fig. 8, Plate VI., and the side – table on Plate VII. began to make its appearance. With it we advance well into the Cromwellian period, when the cabinet maker had already come to the conclusion that he was able to stand alone, and to dispense almost entirely with the services of his erstwhile predominant partner. Formerly he supplied the knights of the chisel and gouge with what was but little more ihan a foundation for the exercise of their craft; but the tables were turned, and in the end it came to pass that the carver had to come to him for orders for panels and other detail.

It is, of course, impossible to say with certainty that the rigid austerity which characterised the views of the Puritans concerning all mundane matters directly influenced the style and design of the domestic furnishings of England during the Protectorate, but it is indisputable that, at that period, simple and even severe forms came into vogue, suggestive rather of the sober garb and habits of the followers of Crom­well than of the feathers and furbelows of the adherents to the cause of “The Merry Monarch.” It may have chanced that all this was merely an accidental coincidence, conse­quent upon the development in the craft of the cabinet maker to which I have referred having come about at a time when the views of the people were “sobering down," or



Подпись: 50Подпись: “JACOBEAN” SETTLE OF THE CROMWELLIAN PERIOD (See pages 49, 50, 51 for reference)
perhaps it would be more correct to say, when the views of the more “sober" section of the community found a voice and made themselves heard. This is the unromantic and matter-of-fact explanation which will inevitably be advanced by many ; but I prefer rather to regard this change in the character of the furnishings of the homes of the people as a definite and most powerful demonstration of the reasonable­ness of my pet theory, that the political and social conditions

of the people of all ages are reflected, to a greater or less degree, in the domestic environments of the times. But that I must leave for the reader to decide for himself, lest the clatter of the hoofs and the jingle of my hobby-horse’s bells get on his nerves.

Leaving undecided, therefore, the question of the under­lying causes of the simplicity of Cromwellian cabinet work, we must accept the presence of that simplicity as an irre-


Reference in I ext. See pages 66, 67


futable fact, and proceed to make ourselves acquainted with the character of the forms which it eventually assumed, and which remained popular even long after the Restoration. A better type than that presented in the chest Fig. 7, Plate III., could not be found for the purpose of illustrating this. In it we have cabinet work of the very best kind, as distinguished from carved carpentry ; and here we see, too, that there can be positive beauty in comparative simplicity. The propor­tions are admirable, and what little enrichment there is is of the simplest, consisting only of inlaid lines of holly or boxwood —I am not sure which ; lines of bead-like carving, and mitred mouldings.

Подпись: (See pages 49, 50, 51 for reference')The mention of this last feature reminds me of the fact that it was at this period that the moulding itself com­menced to play an im­portant part as a deco­rative element in cabinet work. This, I think, may be accounted for by the spirit of emulation created by the striking examples which came from the cabinet makers of the Netherlands. It cannot be regarded as surprising that we should have adopted some Dutch and Flemish ideas at this time, if we recall the intimate con­nection between our own country and Holland ; the sojourn of the exiled king at Bruges, Brussels, and the Hague; the events which led up to the declaration of war


Подпись: 52against Holland in 1663, followed by the Dutch invasion of the Medway ; the treaty of Nimeguen ; and, finally, the arrival of a Dutch ruler to take the reins of Government. But upon this fresh phase of affairs I must dilate in my next chapter, only pointing out here in passing that, so far as cabinet work is concerned, the Flemish or Dutch influence is very clearly to be traced in Fig. 4, Plate I.; Fig. 7, Plate III.; in the linen press, Fig. 4, Plate V. (most probably actually of Dutch manufacture) ; Fig. 8, Plate VI.; and the side table, again, Plate VII.

Before leaving the consideration of “ Jacobean " cabinet work I would draw the attention of the reader to the improve­ment that steadily grew in the character of the turning intro­duced—as, for example, in Fig. 4, Plate II., Fig. 5, Plate III., Fig. 4, Plate V., and the side-table, Plate VII. But turning is a feature that may be studied to greater advantage in the chairs of the time, and they must constitute the subject of our next deliberations.

An examination of late “Elizabethan" and early “Jaco­bean " chairs of every kind leads us irresistibly to the con­clusion that the days when they were in fashion must have been a veritable harvest-time for the timber merchants; for, if we take their weight alone into consideration, almost any one of them when put into the scale would bring down the beam against three or four of its twentieth-century successors. It was evidently a generally accepted belief in those days that sturdiness—one might almost say “clumsiness"—was inse­parable from strength ; and just as the most notable deeds of old are associated in our minds with grizzled heroes of rough exterior and well-knit frame, so our forefathers of the seventeenth century liked to have as much weight and bulk of timber as could reasonably be secured in those articles which were destined to bear the brunt of the roughest usage.

The thickness of the wood employed is, of course, partly to be accounted for by its nature ; for it will not be necessary


Reference in Text. See pages 66, 67







Подпись: “JACOBEAN ”to inform any one who has, at any time, had much to do with the “working" of oak that, on account of the character of its growth and constitution, it lends itself far more satisfactorily to a heavy than to a lighter treatment; it is extremely hard, to a certain extent “brittle,” and by no means “kind to the tool.” In this fact we find, then, one explanation of the (to us) unseemly proportions of these old chairs, stools, and settles. But I am still inclined to the opinion that those proportions, their character, and enrichment, are to be con­sidered as reflecting the temperaments of their owners.

Those were days of daring deeds; hard knocks were given and taken as a matter of course, and with equanimity; bluff good humour was looked for rather than refined courtesy ; and a man who would be regarded in these days as a model of politeness and culture, would then have been put down as a “ pimping jackanapes." (Were not the graces of the French continually ridiculed upon the stage in the plays of the Restoration?) The entree to society was then accorded more to men who could hit the hardest and drink the deepest than to the possessor of university degrees, or to leading lights in art, science, or literature. It is not too much to assert, indeed, that the higher refinements of life were held in but small esteem, where they were not ignored altogether.

It is generally accepted as correct that the stage plays of any age are a reliable index of the manners and morals of the times when they were written; and, if we take those of Etherege, Wycherley, Congreve, Beaumont, Fletcher, and other dramatists of their day—to go no farther back—we shall see pretty clearly that the language, manners, and morals of these Jacobean times at their best were crude, while at their worst they were unutterably nasty.

As with folk, so with furniture. Can we picture one of the determined old “ Ironsides," or, for the matter of that, swashbuckling Cavaliers, sitting down with any degree of comfort or fitness in a painted satinwood “Sheraton” chair,


Подпись: 54or “ Heppehvhite" sofa? The very suggestion seems absurd, and jars terribly on our sense of consistency.

As we fail, therefore, to find refinement, or what we now look upon as refinement, in any great degree in the essentials of the daily life of the times whose domestic appointments we are studying, it is hardly reasonable to look for that quality in the material environment of that life. We will not, there­fore, waste our time in so doing, but will make the best of that which is presented for our examination; and the “Jacobean" chair will furnish us with ample food for reflection.

The fact that, at the present day, the crafts of chair making and upholstering, and of cabinet making, are kept quite dis­tinct, will be unknown, perhaps, to some of my readers; but there are many indications in the work before us which lead us to suppose that, in the days of “ Good Queen Bess," and of her immediate successors, the one craftsman could, and did, turn out a chest, a cupboard, ora chair with equal facility, as occasion might require. The manufacture of chairs in those days did not, by any means, call for that high degree of technical training and efficiency which is demanded of the modern chair maker and upholsterer. The back, seat, and legs were made and put together in much the same fashion as the various parts of the old “ carcase work," while upholstering was nil. As illustrative of this I will refer to one or two of the types shown in the last chapter—Figs. 3 and 5, Plate II.; Figs, i and 5, Plate III.; the high-backed chair, Plate IV.; and in this chapter to Figs. 1 and 2, Plate I.; Fig. 5, Plate II.; Figs, i and 3, Plate III.; and Fig. 4, Plate IV. Fig. 1, Plate

I., which dates from late in the century, is a chair and table combined, the back being hinged to the arms and swinging over so as to form a table top, on the same principle as that illustrated in Fig. 6, Plate V.—also a late example.

The chair shown in Fig. 2 was probably made some time between 1650 and 1670, as also those in Fig. 5, Plate II.; Figs.

Reference in Text. See pages 66, 67








Подпись: “JACOBEAN ”i and 3, Plate III.; Fig. 2, Plate V.; and the arm-chair on Plate VII. It is quite impossible to say, however, with perfect exactitude, as we can only judge by the similarity of design, and be guided by a knowledge of the approximate period when such design predominated. My remarks upon the carved enrichment of the cabinet work apply equally to all cases where such ornamentation is to be found in chairs or other articles.

It was during the Jacobean era that the chair commenced to shake off some, at least, of its superfluous heaviness, and even show a slight suggestion of grace of form. Some chair maker, bolder than his fellows, had the temerity to discard the heavy, solid back, and put in its place a lighter frame ; graceful turning was substituted for a superabundance of carving, and an attempt was even made towards the attain­ment of some measure of elegance. Thus it was that such types as Fig. 6, Plate I.; Fig. 2, Plate II.; Figs. 1, 3, and 5, Plate IV.; Fig. 6, Plate V.; Figs. 5, and 7, Plate VI.; Fig. 5, Plate I., in the chapter on “ Elizabethan," and the rail-back chair on Plate IV. (“ Elizabethan "), found their way into the English home. Fig. 6, Plate I., which, owing to the pre­sence of the acorn-like “ drops" or pendants in the back, is sometimes styled the “Acorn Chair," and Fig. 5, Plate

IV. , with its “colonnadeM in the back, gained a wide popu­larity in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Cheshire, at the time of their introduction, though why they should be found there specially I am unable to state. Such, however, is the fact, and they have become known in some quarters as “ Lanca­shire " and “Cheshire " chairs. In style they are, at all events, true “Jacobean,” and date from about the time of the Pro­tectorate, or perhaps somewhat later.

Figure 2, Plate II., shows a curious attempt to wed the “Jacobean" and “Flemish.” The under part is, most un­mistakably, in the latter style, the influence of which we see again, and even more markedly, in Fig. 5, Plate II., in


Подпись: 56the last chapter, and in Figs. 5 and 7, Plate VI., given here.

This Flemish type found such favour here during the latter part of the seventeenth century, particularly in the north of England and Scotland, that it became naturalised,

Подпись:so to speak, and was regarded as na­tional property. In fact, a chair very simi­lar to that shown in Fig. 7, Plate VI., is now generally known as the “ Holyrood Chair,” from the im­portance of the part it plays in the furnish­ing of the historic palace of Holyrood. Four further examples of the same school, and exceptionally fine ones too, are illus­trated on Plate XII. These do not call for any lengthy descrip­tion, but I must point out that in three of the four the Stuart crown is introduced into the carved enrichment, while its form is also employed, with but slight alteration, to constitute the footstool shown. There may be a political significance in this, but, if so, I am unable to state whether its presence was intentional or not. As regards the Flemish forms themselves, it is easy, of course, to trace the French source. Figs. 4 and 9, Plate VI.,

Reference in Text. See pages 66, 67





Подпись: 57Подпись: LATE “JACOBEAN” ARM-CHAIR (Showing Flemish influence. Said to have been the property of Alexander Pope) are not English at all, but early Spanish or Italian ; yet they are not altogether out of place here, for they are types that were not unknown in the homes of the Elizabethan and Jacobean aristocracy, being imported from abroad by those who catered for the wants of the wealthier class of pat­rons, or else brought over by the patrons themselves. One is reputed to have been in the possession of Cardinal Wolsey, but that tradition calls for verification.

It would occupy too great time and space to trace here the growth of the “ Flem­ish " of this period from the “ Henri – D e u X,” “Louis- Treize,” “ Louis-Qua – torze,” and also, in a certain measure, from the “Spanish"; but it may be observed that the under-part of Fig.

5, Plate VI., is clearly

based on the “ Louis-Quatorze," though the toes of the front legs are distinctly Spanish in form.

We might reasonably have expected that the close rela­tionship which subsisted between France and England during the rule of the Stuarts would have inevitably resulted in the borrowing of many more ideas by the English cabinet maker


Подпись: 58of that age from the work of his coiifreres on the other side of the Channel than he actually took; but we may, at all events, argue that, however much he failed at that time to take advantage of his opportunities in that direction,

Подпись:he made up for his sin of omission during the suc­ceeding century.

Подпись: (Showing Flemish influence strongly marked) (See page 56 for reference) Though the earlier Eng­lish styles did not owe so heavy a debt to the French as we might have expected, much furniture was im­ported from France for the court of this country, in order to add greater magni­ficence to the surroundings of royalty. It could hardly have been otherwise, for it was natural that the daughter of Henry the Fourth of France should desire to have around her as many tangible souvenirs of her native land as possible; added to which, the lengthy sojourn of James the Second in that country would inevitably influence his tastes in the same direc­tion. Moreover, it is not to be imagined that a sovereign of Charles the Second’s disposition would be content with our national predilection for sombre oak and subdued tapestry when he had all the brilliant wealth of the Italian Renais­sance, the “ Francois-Premier,” “ Henri-Deux," and “Louis – Treize " to draw upon.

Amongst the French furniture brought over here, par-


Plate 19


Reference in Text, Уее pages 55, 66








ticularly during the reign of “The Merry Monarch,” were numerous chairs of the type indicated on this page, very simple forms, with leather covering, studded with brass nails.

Подпись: STUART CHAIR (Now in the possession of Mr. J. Seymour Lucas, R.A.) The chair illustrated is interesting, not only as a type, but on account of its present ownership and the manner in which it was originally ac­quired by its proud and rarely-gifted pos­sessor. The story has already been told by me in one of the maga­zines, but it will, I think, bear re-telling here.

It is some years now—how many need not be recorded — since a merry little party was settled down in the cosy parlour of a quaint country inn, half farm house and half hos­telry, to celebrate a farewell symposium ; conviviality was the order of the night.

Подпись:The gathering was in honour of two guests, whose departure was timed for the morrow. On their arrival, some weeks before, they had not met with a very hearty reception at the hands of mine host—a sturdy countryman of the good old-fashioned type, who, on viewing their im­pedimenta, which consisted of paint-boxes, easels, and other accessories of the palette and brush, eyed them askance as


Подпись: бо“ painter chaps from London." From his point of view they were on a par with “ strolling players " or something equally undesirable. A glance at certain credentials from the Lord of the Manor, however, smoothed over these initial difficulties, and there followed days of work amidst delightful scenery, and evenings of good fellowship, with the host beaming and shak­ing his portly sides at the wit and versatility of his guests; evenings that are even now looked back upon by those who took part in them as having been “ right good times." It chanced that one of the artists could sing a rattling good song as well as wield his brush with rare power, and the former accomplishment appealed strongly to our genial Boniface.

This artist, moreover, had a keen eye’ for old furniture, and had taken more than a passing fancy to an old Stuart chair that stood in the roomy and comfortable kitchen—the only remaining one of a number, and the particular coign of vantage on which the dog snoozed lazily, and blinked his approval of the evening’s harmony. But all attempts to secure that chair had proved vain. Generous offers were made— and refused ; equitable exchange was suggested, but the suggestion was always dismissed with a joke ; all cajolery proved equally futile. No ; the dog had appropriated the chair for years back as his own particular and favourite resting-place ; it had become his by right of usage, and was not to go.

The case appeared to be hopeless; but the determina­tion of our ardent young collector was not to be baffled; like Brer Fox, he “lay low” and bided his time. It came at last, and happened on the eventful evening in question. The final libations were mixed, and the host called upon our friend for “Just one more song before we part, lad." But the “ lad " was obdurate ; possibly he scented an oppor­tunity to gain the desired end. He had gone through his stock more than once ; the company knew his songs by heart; he was tired, and “off to bed"; had to be “away


Elate 20


Reference in Text. Sen pages 66, 67


early in the morning"; and many other similar excuses were offered.

Persuasion seemed to be of small avail, and all entreaties fell flat, until, in an unguarded moment, the interests of the dog were forgotten by its owner, and the sacred chair itself was offered as an inducement too strong to be re­sisted. “Done!” came like a flash, before there was time for retractation; the song was sung, and with an encore. The host got his way, the painter his prize, and on the next day the “ find " was carried off to town in triumph.

When I was looking at the very chair a short while ago in the beautiful home at Hampstead where it now finds a resting-place, and where I first marked its lines and listened to the story of its acquisition—of the truth of which there can be no possible doubt—it struck me that few more in­teresting or picturesquely practical illustrations of the saying, “secured for a song," could be quoted. To complete the story, it only remains for me to add that the young painter was Mr. J. Seymour Lucas, who carried, not a marshal’s baton, but an R. A. in his knap-sack; a young painter whom, though not so well known in the days of which we have just been reading, our Royal Academy has since delighted to honour. By so doing it has conferred equal honour upon itself, for his brush has been one of the most powerful among those which have won for modern British painting the laurels which have fallen to its share.

But I must return to the sterner side of our study, and say just a word or two more with regard to the Jacobean chair, before passing on to the discussion of other articles. There is one feature which has not yet been remarked upon, and which, indeed, is generally ignored by most writers who deal with the subject. The feature to which I allude is the height of the seats, which are, in most cases, at a consider­ably greater distance from the floor than those of the present day. The reason for this is, perhaps, open to discussion ;


Подпись: 62but, when it is remembered that the floors of the rooms in which they originally stood rejoiced in no 11 Best Brussels," inviting “Axminster," or “Art Squares," but were for the most part of stone, a satisfactory explanation presents itself. The seats, as I have said, were higher than in modern chairs, and the tables, for which these chairs were used, were almost invariably provided with sturdy under-framing, upon which the feet of those sitting at them could rest in comfort and in safety from the “chills" which would arise from contact with the cold stone. That the under-framing was taken ad­vantage of in the way suggested is made perfectly evident by the extent to which it is worn away in the majority of the old tables which survive.

When the occupants of these chairs were not seated at table, it seems beyond question that foot stools were made use of; a large number of those handy little accessories, dating from that time, are still in existence.

However pleasing the “Jacobean" chair may be to the eye—and many of them unquestionably are pleasing—few, if any, of them convey a very strong impression of comfort to the body which aches for repose ; on that account, if for no other reason, they would hardly appeal to the modern young couple about to furnish, unless some modification or addi­tion in the direction of comfort were made. Whether the popular impression is right that the race of old was actually made of sterner stuff than their present degenerate descen­dants, I will not discuss, but, at all events, there seems to have been small call during the earlier part of the seventeenth century for the over-done, puffy, milliner’s-shop style of upholstery, with its flounces and furbelows, which constitutes a refuge in many modern homes for tired nature—and dust. Loose cushions were, undoubtedly, employed to palliate the relentlessness of these old seats, and endow them with some measure of comfort, but such additions came as an after­thought, and played no part in the designer’s original scheme.




Reference in Text. See pages 66, 67



We have become so accustomed to the luxury—we might almost say effeminate luxury—which has found its way here from across the Channel, that we hardly dare hope a revival of such models as those in question would meet with popular favour nowadays. Yet we cannot but accord them our ad­miration, nor can we resist the temptation to add as many to our collections as means and opportunity will permit.

It is a common error to suppose that most of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century woodwork, such as I have depicted here, was formerly to be seen only in the houses of the nobility. There is every reason to believe, on the contrary, that so far from that being the case, it was generally to be found in the houses of the middle classes—of prosperous farmers and well-to-do tradesmen.

In making my selection, I have been careful to keep this point in view, for one of the chief objects of this book is to convey as complete an idea as possible of the average English home during the last three centuries, and not of exceptional examples of the craft of the cabinet and chair maker, which were designed and produced for palace and mansion. As may be imagined, these, even so far back as the sixteenth century, were magnificent beyond description. Spenser, in his “ Faerie Queene,” tells us :—

“ For th’ antique world excess and pride did hate;

Such proud luxurious pomp is swollen up but late ”;

and the study of the inventories of the belongings of the Elizabethan “upper ten” clearly proves that they loved to surround themselves with all the masterpieces of art and craftsmanship which could be brought from countries whose skilled workers were renowned for the creation of luxurious and beautiful things.

There are, however, further illustrations awaiting com­ment. The stool that appears in Fig. 1, Plate VI., recalls strongly the old monastic days, and might have come from


Подпись: STYLE IN FURNITUREGlastonbury Abbey itself; while that in Fig. 2, Plate III., is a sensible, and by no means ungraceful, “Jacobean” form.

All the tables designed and manufactured during the greater part of the seventeenth century bear a very strong resemblance to one another, though we find what might be described as “the fat and the lean kine” among them. Not­withstanding this, all share the cardinal characteristics we have discussed in company with other articles of “Jacobean”

furniture, and they may, therefore, easily be recognised. The earlier types are heavier, generally more crude in construc­tion, and enriched to a greater extent with carving, as in Fig. 6, Plate II., and Fig. 6, Plate III. Later, the proportions become slighter, the turning of greatly improved design, and more graceful; and variations upon the simple rectangular form are made, as in Figs. 3 and 5, Plate V., and the folding “Gate Table,” on Plate VII., so called on account of the way

in which the legs fold together to permit of the hinged side “leaves" of the circular top falling down for economy of space. Another example of a similar type is illustrated on the preceding page.

In the’ foregoing illustrations and the comments on them it has been my endeavour to present as exhaustive a summary


Late Stuart Table (Showing Flemish influence)

and analysis of the leading characteristics of Stuart furniture as is possible within the limits imposed upon me by con­siderations of space. If the forms and details we have ex­amined be retained in the mind’s eye, it will be quite simple for anyone to identify any piece which was designed or pro­duced in this country during the period that elapsed between

1600 and 1680 or 1690; providing, of course, that it be not


some eccentric exception to every rule which then prevailed, and so impossible to tabulate under accepted and duly specified headings.

To illustrate every article of furniture belonging to that age, with all their innumerable minor variations of form and detail, is obviously quite impossible ; fortunately it is not at all necessary for me to do so in order to attain the end I have in view. Our requirements will be fully met by a careful study of the standard models of every phase of style in vogue at any period we may be discussing, and by com­parison with these every other piece may be judged, its style discovered, and its approximate date determined.

The next illustration in this chapter (Plate VII.) conveys a capital impression of the class of interior woodwork that pre­vailed in the homes of those who were able to afford such luxuries in Elizabethan and Stuart days. The mantel—a fine study in “ Elizabethan "—and the panelling are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington ; originally they were designed and put together for old Bow Palace, at the demolition of which they were fortunately “rescued ” and secured for the nation by the Science and Art Department. It will be observed that the panelling itself is of the very simplest character, though the main pilasters are enriched with the “ inverted" scrolls which, as I have pointed out, were very generally employed, and were most typical of “Jacobean " detail. For the rest, as regards this plate, I need only draw attention to the arm-chair by the fireplace, which is a repetition of the same type as that illustrated on page 33, and, as I have said, was not uncommon in the English mansion of Elizabethan and Stuart times.

The illustrations on the plates we have considered prac­tically exhaust all the really characteristic types of the Stuart period, and those which follow, on Plates VIII. to XIV., are simply additional examples presented to give a fuller idea of variations in detail, and in combinations of detail, such as

will be met with frequently by the student. The bedstead on Plate VIII. is dated 1615, but bears evidence of reconstruc­tion. Indeed, it is not improbable that the panelling at the foot was originally made for a chest. Piecing-together of this kind was not at all uncommon. The two arm-chairs on Plate IX. bring us to the “Shakespeare” type again, and might, perhaps, be more fitly described as “ Elizabethan ” rather than “Jacobean,” though, so far as style is concerned, either description would apply. The stool on Plate X. may be put down as seventeenth-century German work, and par­takes strongly of the Gothic feeling. The two chests on Plate XIII. are reproduced by permission of their present possessor, Mr. Jas. F. Sullivan—“Jassef” as he delights to sign himself in his merry conceits—and are pieces to excite the spirit of envy in the breast of the collector. The first, dated 1607, shows how early in the century the Flemish influence was at work in this country, while the second almost reconciles us to the introduction of Gothic detail into domestic furniture. On Plate XIV. we have a delightful grouping of fine old “Jacobean” forms in a modern house. That the effect is artistic in the extreme is not surprising, for the subject of this plate is in the dining-room of the home of Mr. Robert Sauber, R. I., R. B.A.

As we pass in review the successive changes that have taken place in the applied arts of most countries—and in the applied arts I, of course, include the art of furnishing—it will generally be found that under normal conditions the development of old styles, and the formation of new, have been gradual and evolutional, the characteristics of the older styles growing weaker and those of the new-comers stronger by degrees, until the former have been completely absorbed in, or supplemented by, the latter. This phase of the question is one of the first to present itself to the student of decorative art, and is forcibly illustrated by the work of all ages. There sometimes occur changes which, when they are first encoun­tered, appear to constitute striking exceptions to the general rule; but further investigation will lead to the discovery that they are not really exceptions, but simply represent other offshoots from the parent stem. So it is with style in furniture.

In the progress we have already made in our study, we have arrived, as regards period, at the latter part of the seventeenth century. (The heading of this chapter seems to indicate a later date, and an explanation of that will be afforded as we proceed.)

By analysing and comparing all that was best and most characteristic in the creations of the Elizabethan and Stuart epochs, we have now, I think, gained a complete and just conception of the work of the days which led up to the period we are now about to consider.

Armed then, as he is, with this knowledge, and acting in

accordance with accepted principles, the student will prepare



Reference in Text


to commence his study of the next style on the list with the determination to note, in the first place, how far it resembled the preceding ones with which he is already familiar ; and he will endeavour to trace the progress of its growth out of them. He will then be met by the discovery that it did not resemble them in any essential particular, and that, as a matter of fact, it did not grow out of them at all. No, we are now face to face with a period marked by a great and revolutionary change ; a period when Stuart forms, instead of furnishing inspiration for fresh ones on their own lines, had to contend against powerful rivalry, notwithstanding the fact that the dynasty under which they had come into existence had not yet succumbed to a stronger one—to one more acceptable to the country at large.

The change that came about was not overwhelmingly sudden, but it was none the less sure. When we peep into the English homes of the last decade of the seventeenth century, we find that pieces of furniture, strange in form— strange at least at that time to this country—and entirely different from the sturdy old types that had “ruled the roost" for considerably over half a century, commence to put in an appearance here and there. Yet all endeavours to trace their origin in the older English styles prove to be absolutely fruitless. It is for us, then, to make ourselves acquainted with the causes underlying this change ; and to discover, if we can, the source whence these strange forms emanated. In doing so we shall see again most plainly that there is, after all, more than a little truth in the contention that the history of a people may oftentimes be clearly read in their home surroundings.

If we turn to our histories, should our memories for dates again be unreliable, and read the story of the reign of James the Second, we shall find that, in the year 1688, that king abandoned the throne of England for the quietude of Saint Germains, and that his place at the head of the state was

taken by a certain determined little Dutch Stadtholder, whose claims to the succession were that he was a grandson of Charles the First, a son-in-law of James the Second—and was a man who never knew when he was beaten! Such was the type urgently wanted here at that time.

A brief reference to the bearing of this political change upon the style of our national furnishings will be useful. William, with his Dutch tastes and predilections, came with his consort and took possession; and he made it unmis­takably clear at the outset that he intended to be absolute Dictator, notwithstanding the fact that his consort really had the stronger claim to the supreme control. That fact was presented to him, and he simply met it with the reply that he “was not going to be tied to the apron-strings of any woman" ; and he had his way. With him, of course, came many of his fellow-countrymen—not to mention fellow – countrywomen—as members of his court; and it was only natural that they should desire that their domestic environ­ment here should remind them, as far as was practicable, of the homes they had temporarily left behind them in their own beloved Holland. On this account, unquestionably, Dutch furniture was imported to this country by the ship-load, and with it came into our midst the inspiration for that style which many people fondly regard as having been a national growth, and proudly describe as “ Queen-Anne," in spite of the fact that the sovereign whose name they borrow had as much to do with its inception and subsequent develop­ment as the proverbial “ man in the moon.” The style was founded in the reign of William and Mary, and retained its popularity throughout those of Anne and George the First, and nearly the whole of that of George the Second ; never­theless “ Queen-Anne ” it was dubbed, and “ Queen-Anne ” it remains.

Before marking the characteristics of this new style, which was making its way so steadily and surely, we shall be fully


Reference in Text


Fig. 4. See 78, 81 .. 5- .. 77. 85

,, 6. ,, 77, 81


repaid if we review, for a brief space, the changes that were taking place in the attitude of mind—if I may so express it—of the times; and if we notice, as clearly as we can, the type of patron to whom the furnisher had to look for his support. We may thus account in some measure for the steady growth of that spirit of refinement which then charac­terised our household gods, and reached its zenith at the close of the century the earlier years of which included the reign of Anne.

What, in the first place, were the political conditions of the times in relation to the cultivation of the arts? Were they favourable or otherwise? Let us see.

So far as national affairs were concerned, Queen Anne had cause to be thankful enough. The country was practi­cally at peace, and such disturbances, slight or otherwise, as occurred might with confidence be left for settlement in the hands of the hero of Maestricht, Blenheim, Ramilies, and Mal – plaquet. “Mrs. Morley ” could write her historic letters in peace to “ Mrs. Freeman ” ; “ The Family ” were looking after the affairs of state—and themselves at the same time ; and, at last, the cultivation of the graces of life commenced to supersede the spirit of militarism which had for so long kept them in abeyance. Apostles of those graces, too, were coming to the fore on every hand, and, furthermore, their genius was not only encouraged by public approbation, but won the appre­ciation, and, of greater importance to them, the financial sup­port, of the State. It is both curious and interesting to recall the personnel of many of the public departments of those days. What we find there is most significant; it indicates clearly that men who attained to greatness in art, science, or litera­ture were deemed worthy of their salt, and, as I have said, that something besides martial conquest occupied the thoughts of those who were placed at the head of affairs. A few illustrations of this will help us to form in our own minds a more complete conception of the times which are now our

particular study, and to call up visions of those great ones amidst their proper domestic surroundings.

John Locke had completed his “ Essay on the Human Understanding" in the intervals permitted by the performance of his duties as Secretary of Presentations, and Secretary to the Board of Trade; Ray had laid the foundation for the classification of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, by which he won the unstinted admiration of Cuvier himself ; Con­greve was delighting the playgoing public with his “ Double Dealer," “ Love for Love," and similar conceits, and had been rewarded by a post in the Hackney Coach Office; Farquhar was competing successfully with him on his own ground by the production of “ The Beau’s Stratagem," “ Love in a Bottle," and like extravagances ; while Pope was, at one and the same time, accumulating the wisdom and the gall which gave to the world the “ Essay on Man ” and the “ Dunciad." Matthew Prior had served successively as Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King William, Secretary to the Congress at the Hague, Secretary of State, and Secretary to the Embassy in France, the while he was de­lighting all people of culture by his writings and poems, and notably by his “ History of our own Times." Addison had completed his “ Rosamund " and “The Campaign," and was alternating the duties of Commissioner of Appeals and Under-Secretary of State by penning his literary gems for the Spectator, Tatler, and Guardian, and preparing his re­proofs for “Little Dickey"; while that gentleman himself— “ the most agreeable and most innocent rake that entered the round of dissipation "—was editing his papers, spending a certain number of hours daily in the Stamp Office, suffer­ing expulsion from Parliament for his “ Englishman" and “ Critic," and bowing the knee for knighthood. Handel was busy fighting duels, writing his “Те Deums" and “ Jubilates,” and drawing his pension of “ four hundred a year” ; Walpole was looking after the Exchequer and exports and collecting

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his art treasures ; Lord Chesterfield—friend of Addison, Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, Gay, Voltaire, and Montesquieu—was writ­ing his far-famed “ Letters,” and, at intervals, guiding State affairs in Ireland and Holland. Garrick was sitting at the feet of Dr. Johnson preparatory to trying his chances in the wine trade, and winning his laurels on the stage—curious that our own Toole should have passed from one to the other in the same way ; Hogarth was storing up that knowledge of human nature which afterwards, guided by his genius, made him the most powerful pictorial satirist of his or any other age—and striving to win the favour of Sir James Thornhill’s daughter; “Peg” Woffington was sending the beaux of the town mad with her “ Sir Harry Wildair,” and Joshua Reynolds was just entering upon his studies. Looming over all, we see, through the eyes of Boswell, the ponderous figure of Samuel Johnson himself, struggling for eight years over his Dictionary —which was due in three!—and spending his.£1575 l°ng before the completion of his task; preparing his Parliamentary reports for the Gentlemans Magazine; dodging the bailiffs; and writing “ Rasselas” to pay the expenses of his mother’s funeral! That remarkable genius, with “his coat, his wig, his scrofula, his St. Vitus’s dance, his rolling walk, his blinking eye, the outward signs which too clearly marked the appro­bation of his dinner; his insatiable appetite for fish sauce and veal pie with plums ; his inextinguishable thirst for tea; his trick of touching the posts as he walked ; his mysterious practice of treasuring up scraps of orange-peel ; his morning slumbers, his midnight disputations, his contortions, his mutterings, his gruntings, his puffings; his vigorous, acute, and ready eloquence ; his sarcastic wit, his vehemence, his insolence, his fits of tempestuous rage, his queer inmates— old Mr. Levett and blind Mrs. Williams, the cat Hodge, and the negro Frank.”

It is with such figures as these, then, that we may, if we be so disposed, people our interiors in imagination when we

have fitted them up from the material provided in these pages; and their presence in our memories cannot but enhance the interest of our study of their silent companions. Is it surprising that, in the midst of so notable a revival of culture and refinement in almost every walk of life, domestic furnishings should throw off much of the clumsiness that had characterised them for so long, and take to themselves forms in greater harmony with the higher tastes of the time?

As I have already remarked, however, for indications of the very first appearance of the “ Queen-Anne,” we must look back to a period considerably prior to that which saw the termination of the sway of the House of Stuart, if we are to see how, and with what measure of success, the English cabinet maker and chair maker adjusted himself to the new conditions which were brought into play, and prepared to answer the demand for all things Dutch.

I have said that the change was revolutionary, and so, indeed, it was; a fact that will be readily appreciated if we study the matter carefully from all points of view. The reader must remember that, up to the time of this artistic invasion, rectangular forms, and the straight line generally, had largely predominated in the construction of English furniture ; foliations, scrolls, or curves, of any sort or kind whatsoever, were seldom indulged in at all, except by the carver or marquetry cutter, or save in the case of chair arms or backs. Table and chair legs had always remained either “square” or turned, but generally straight; “carcase work" had been entirely innocent of shaping, save in very excep­tional instances; the pediment was practically unknown to the cabinet maker in his craft; and, indeed, everything in the least approaching the curvilinear in construction was studiously avoided.

But what a change came over the scene with the advent of William and Mary! Stern and unrelenting severity of form was forced to give way before graceful shaping and


Reference in Text







sinuous curves. The chair, which in the old days any number of cushions could hardly render comfortable, so rigid and severe was it, began to be shaped so that, in some measure, it would accord with the lines of the body, and not only became really graceful but was also transformed into a delightfully comfortable asylum for the tired frame which needed repose. And every other article for the furnishing and adornment of the home was conceived and carried out with a close regard for the same considerations. Proportions and “quantities" were lightened in every way, and a spirit of elegance came upon the scene, which was entirely novel to our insular and old, familiar traditions.

We shall presently see in what forms this spirit found expression in British workmanship ; but, before doing so, it will be well for us first to glance at one or two really Dutch models of the description from which our inspiration came. It may be taken that the “ Queen-Anne " types which we shall consider are such as were in more or less general use here from the commencement of the eighteenth century until about 1760; indeed, until the influence of Chippendale and his contemporary workers really and seriously commenced to make itself felt. The examples chosen for illustration were all produced during that period. Fig. 4, Plate VII., is a Dutch cupboard ; Figs. 2 and 7 tables of the same character and period ; and Figs. 1, 3, 5, and 6 are typical chairs. With these before us, our study of their English descendants will be rendered all the more interesting.

It will serve our purpose very well to master first the line of the “ Queen-Anne " chair, sofa, and seat generally, before proceeding to the consideration of other articles; and these alone call for somewhat lengthy comment. Prior to going into greater detail we will deal with general constructional form ; and though the chair to which I shall now invite atten­tion is, to a great extent, a hybrid production, and really cannot be described as pure “ Queen – Anne," it reveals

strongly the growing influence of the “ Dutch,” and so may be accepted as a good starting-point for our study of individual examples of the style.

One of the first features that it is desirable to regard carefully, before deciding the question whether any chair is to be classed under this particular heading, is the leg; for by the introduction of the “ Queen-Anne ”—I must employ that title, as it has for so long met with general acceptance—the form of that structural detail was entirely changed from that which it had previously taken. Formerly, as I have pointed out, the chair-seat was, as a rule, supported by perfectly upright members, either turned, “ square,” or otherwise rectangular in plan—a rule, the following of which helped to give a distinctive character to the “ Jacobean ” type ; but at the period at which we have now arrived, that rule obtained no longer. The interpreters of the new style would have none of it, but substituted a shaped member which was then, as now, designated the “ cabriole.” Of these there are many slight variations in form, but all resemble one another very closely in the essential particular, the differences subsisting simply in the degree of subtlety on the one hand, or boldness on the other, of the shaping. That presented in Fig. 4, Plate

I., may be regarded as a standard, and thoroughly charac­teristic, model. To trace the “cabriole” back to its earliest origin, which, in the opinion of some, is to be found in the animal leg and claw of the “Classic,” is a lengthy task which need not be undertaken here; neither is it necessary for us to go deeply into the philological derivations of the name ; but I may point out that, just as we appropriated the form from the “ Flemish ” or “ Dutch,” so the originators of those groups of styles, in their turn, were indebted for it to the French. By way of illustrating this point, I have intro­duced Fig. 7, Plate I., a “ Louis-Quatorze ” model, in the legs of which may be noted one of the earlier develop­ments of the “cabriole,” which certainly grew in grace


Reference in Text

Fig. 4. See 86 „ 5- .. 85

,,6. ,, 78, 81






as years rolled on. But to return to Fig. 4. The back is more than a little reminiscent of the “Jacobean’’ “slat back” (of which an example is shown on Plate IV. “Eliza­bethan”), though the slender turning which is introduced and the framing-in of the “slats,” again reveal the foreign influence. In the first place, then, the “cabriole” leg must be noted as a thoroughly distinctive feature, to be encountered throughout the style; and it now behoves us to study the most typical of the variations of that form which we are likely to find in the course of our investigations.

In Fig. i, Plate I., we see the shorter “ cabriole ” so adapted to answer the requirements of the couch, sofa, or any low seat. Here the proportions are altered, and the whole member becomes heavier in appearance, but even thus it is not without a certain amount of grace of line. This render­ing of it is not only to be found in chairs and seats, but is often introduced into cabinet work in cases where the “ car­case ” is raised from the ground, but not to the same height as is the average chair seat (see Fig. 6, Plate I., and Fig. 5, Plate III.). In tables, again, where the length of the leg is always greater than that of the chair, the “ cabriole ” is elon­gated, as in Fig. 2, Plate I.; Fig. 5, Plate II.; Fig. 4, Plate III.; and Fig. 6, Plate IV. In these cases the proportions of the support are generally much lighter, and the curves far more subtle and often more graceful. If a chair which is “Queen-Anne” in character be found with straight legs, as in Fig. 6, Plate II., and Fig. 1, Plate III., we may be certain either that it is a very early example, or that it is more Flemish than English in origin. Where the straight-turned legs appear they are usually accompanied by under-framing, as in the two examples specified ; and the same feature also occurs, but not invariably, in connection with the “cabriole” leg (see Figs, i, 3, 4, Plate I.; Fig. 3, Plate II.; and Fig. 5, Plate IV.), consisting of slender, simple turning, interrupted by “squares” where the joints occur.

The “ cabriole/’ as employed in the " Queen-Anne,” is often, and more frequently in the less expensive models, perfectly free from enrichment of any kind, the shaping alone being relied on for effect (see Figs, i and 4, Plate I.; Fig. 3, Plate II., and other examples) but the temptation to "touch it up a bit” here and there was altogether too strong to be resisted by the carver, who soon commenced to exercise his chisel upon it. He proceeded carefully at first, and con­tented himself by making the curve at the top of the leg terminate in a simple scroll, and imparting to the toe some­what of the semblance of an animal’s paw. But this did not satisfy him. The top was further enriched by an indication of the Dutch “ shell,” and the members of the paw became more distinct, as in Fig. 6, Plate III. Sometimes the "shell” itself, in its entirety, was carved boldly on the "knee,” as in Fig. 4, Plate V. The thin end of the wedge—or I should rather say "of the chisel”—having thus been duly inserted, further elaboration naturally followed, till the “knees” be­came as ornate as in Fig. 6, Plate I.; Figs. 1, 2, and 4, Plate

II. ; Fig. 2, Plate III.; Figs. 3 and 4, Plate IV.; and Figs. 1, 2, and 6, Plate V. The claws, also, of the paw, instead of being drawn in and resting on the floor, were made to grip a ball or small sphere of wood, as in Figs. 2, 5, and 6, Plate

I. ; Fig. 2, Plate II.; Fig. 4, Plate IV.; and Figs. 1 and 2, Plate V. Occasionally the shape of the paw was omitted altogether, the leg terminating at the toe in a scroll more or less enriched, as in Fig. 3, Plate IV.; and in Fig. 6, Plate V., the scroll usually being raised very slightly from the floor by a small block or " cushion ” of wood, as shown. There is one example among those presented which almost suggests to one’s mind the idea that a late, straight-legged “Jacobean” type, jealous of the capers cut—"cabriole” is French for " caper ”—by its newly-imported rivals, determined to put its own “ best leg foremost ” in order to see what it could achieve in the same direction. The attempt was praiseworthy, but








the results were slight, as Fig. 3, Plate III., will testify. Still, the effect was by no means ungraceful; and this leg, in its entirety, should be most carefully noted, as it is very often found at this period. It certainly does convey some sugges­tion of the “ cabriole," but it is far less costly to produce, and so was greatly used in the cheaper class of furniture of the day. The carved enrichment on the table in question is, I need hardly say, unqualified and most typical “Jacobean." Later developments of the “cabriole," as it appeared when it was taken in hand by Thomas Chippendale, will be dealt with in the chapter devoted to the designs of that old master ; but, in the meantime, the reader may compare the legs specified below :—

“ Queen-Anne”

« Chippendale.”

Fig. з, Plate I.

Lower chair, Plate I.

>> 3, » H-

Upper „ „ VI.

» 3, „ IV.

и » » !•

ff ft >f Hi-

Lower „ „ „

and a number of others.

So general did the employment of the “ cabriole" form become that it even found its way into the kitchen dresser, as may be seen by reference to illustration on following page. I must point out, however, in reference to such old dressers as these, that, in most cases, the apartments in which they found a place were really the living rooms of the home, and were not for the use of servants only. Then, the housewife was proud to devote personal care to the cleanliness and protection of her plates and dishes, and was naturally desirous that an asylum as tasteful as possible should be provided for their reception.

The foregoing remarks exhaust, I think, the subject of “ Queen-Anne ” legs, and we must now see what there is to be noted in the chair seats and backs. The seats, as will be observed, assume a variety of forms, but are seldom, if ever,

rectangular, being almost invariably narrower at the back than at the front. Sometimes the line of the side-framing is straight, though springing at an angle from the back; but


“Queen-Anne” Dresser, of л Tyfe Common in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Wales

(See page 79 for reference)

frequently the form of the seat is completely curvilinear. This can be better explained by the assistance of illustrations, and in the outline plans that appear on the opposite page,

we see the principal shapes of the “ Queen-Anne " chair seat at a glance.

Подпись: PLANS OF TYPICAL “QUEEN-ANNE” CHAIR SEATS We may now proceed to the consideration of the backs which generally accompany them. The forms of back most favoured were those of the type represented by Figs, i and 3, Plate II.; and those illustrated on the plate of Dutch ex­amples. In these a “ baluster," or broad “ splat,” of pleasing outline, is framed – in by gracefully shaped top and sides, the lines of which generally follow right round in one unbroken and more or less sinuous “sweep.” Variations of this will be found in Fig. 4, Plate II.,

Подпись:Fig. 3, Plate IV., and Figs. 2 and 6, Plate

V. ; but these are somewhat excep­tional. The two first-named are pro­bably actually Dutch, while Fig. 6, Plate V., is a curious mixture of “ Dutch ” and “ French,” although it would almost come under our description “ Queen-Anne,” so all-embracing is that title.

Figure 6, Plate II., was doubtless specially designed and made for some ceremonial purpose, and cannot be regarded as a type, though it is interesting nevertheless. The fleur – de-lis and knotted cord in the heraldic device seem to indicate


that this chair was designed for some family of French extraction; but the toes of the front legs are decidedly “ Spanish," as rendered in Flanders.

It was at this period that the ‘‘easy chair" commenced to come into vogue, and greater provision was made for the support and comfort of the head and shoulders of the occu­pant. Backs were constructed higher and of more generous proportion ; and, among other innovations, the form which we now know as the “Windsor" put in an appearance. In this the centre baluster was not at first abandoned; it was supported on each side by simple turned rods or members, the whole being surmounted by a shaped piece, after the manner shown in Fig. 5, Plate IV. Few more serviceable, sensible, or, for the matter of that, comfortable, wooden chair forms have ever been devised ; and it is not at all surprising that this type, with its numerous variations, should have remained popular even down to the present time.

With the taste for luxury and refinement steadily growing on every hand, a degree of ease and comfort was demanded greater than that which the woodworker alone could provide ; and it was apparent that something further must be done. It is most curious, almost inexplicable indeed, that that some­thing was not done long before. For many a long year, in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, the chair maker had found an invaluable coadjutor in the upholsterer, who had done wonders to render his productions kindly and inviting to the body; but, unless seats were im­ported from abroad, the physical frames of our countrymen and countrywomen had been compelled to extract what com­fort they could, by the aid of loose cushions, from the hardest of oak, uncomfortable enough in itself, but rendered far worse by the vigorous ministrations of the carver, with his crude embellishments.

Eventually a change came about; and the English chair maker argued to himself that if “ the foreigner" could

upholster so could he, and he set to work to master the craft. The success with which he met is shown by such models as Fig. i, Plate I., and Fig. 6, Plate III. In the last we have one of the earliest ancestors of our now beloved “Grandfather,” or “Wing," chair, in which many a weary head has found comfort, repose, and immunity from draughts. The backs of these, it will be noticed, are of a sen­sible height, and fully upholstered; there is no suggestion of the more modern “pin stuffing" about them.

Подпись:The arms, with their comfortable “rolls,” open out invitingly, tempting one to yield to their embrace.

But there are em­braces which have disastrous results, particularly where ladies’ dresses are concerned, so most of the arms in ques­tion were constructed with that fact in view, and were set-back from the front of the seat in such a way as to permit of the satisfactory disposition of the “ fulness ” of the Queen-Anne and early Georgeian skirt. This will be apparent in Fig. 1, Plate I.; and more especially so in Fig. 6, Plate III. In Fig. 1, Plate III., which is not a very characteristic type, the same consideration is not quite so noticeable, though there are signs of it.

The materials employed by the upholsterer for covering included all those produced by the loom and any other which could possibly be pressed into service for such a purpose, in addition, of course, to leather; while the deft needle of the embroideress was frequently set going for the beautification of such pieces as those illustrated. This was the case, indeed, with Fig. i, Plate I. This fine old double seat is the property of Mrs. J. Seymour Lucas—whose brush work has been so constant a delight to all of us—and, in its present condition, has some interesting associations. When it was first secured by its gifted possessor, the covering of old English needle­work was in a condition that might have been deemed altogether hopeless; but H. R.H. Princess Louise, upon examining it, saw the possibility of its restoration, and dis­played her keen interest in all that appertains to the art of the needle by undertaking to have the work carried through successfully. The result is a triumph of stitchery, and is naturally treasured by Mrs. Lucas as a practical and tangible proof of the great and cultured encouragement accorded by Her Royal Highness to the cultivation of the applied arts in this country.

Another seat of a similar character, but of an earlier type, and one in which upholstery does not play so prominent a part, is shown in Fig. i, Plate V. Here, the “stuffing” has not yet reached the arms, which are of that curious form suggestive of a bird’s neck and head, sometimes encountered in chairs of this period, but which can scarcely be described as graceful.

At this time, too, as an alternative to upholstery, cane, being less expensive, came largely into use in the seats and backs of chairs, as represented in Fig. 3, Plate I., in which we have yet another variation of the “ Queen-Anne ” back.

Finally, as regards chairs, the attention of the reader must be specially directed to the “ Qucen-Anne ” chair-back as it appears when regarded from the side. When studied from

Reference ix Text



See 75, 81 75 >- 75 .. 75



Fig. i. See 75 •> 2- .. 75

” З – 75


Fig. 4.


:: I:




that point of view, it will be seen that the back proper, or, in any case, the centre baluster, is shaped to conform in some measure with the lines of the body, supporting the shoulders, and curving forward towards the seat so as to meet the lower part of the trunk. This innovation, which, I need hardly say, was a great advance so far as comfort was concerned, may be noted in Fig. 3, Plate I., and Figs. 1 and 3, Plate

II. ; as also in the upholstering of Fig. 1, Plate I., and of Fig. 6, Plate III.

Of the tables illustrated nothing much need be said. The enrichment of that shown in Fig. 2, Plate I., is an example of the light Dutch marquetry which became rather popular here at the time of William and Mary’s reign; the details usually consisted of naturalesque leaves, blossoms, and birds, in syca­more, pear, maple, mahogany, holly, and other veneers. Fig. 5, Plate II., is, of course, a card-table, with special places provided for “light refreshment" and the coin of the realm ; it was most probably made in early Georgeian days. Fig. 3, Plate III., has been discussed ; while Fig. 5, Plate V., speaks for itself. Fig. 2, Plate II., is a writing- table, the shaping of the front of which is, of course, based on the “French"; Fig. 4, Plate III., Fig. 6, Plate IV., and Fig. 3, Plate V., are other types of the same article, unmis­takably from the “Dutch"; while in Fig. 6, Plate I., we find a considerable step is made towards the development of the bureau from the form in which it appears in Fig. 4, Plate I., in the chapter on “ Elizabethan."

Until this time, the majority of the community who were engaged in literary pursuits, either for pleasure or profit, had received but meagre consideration at the hands of the cabinet maker in the direction of providing them with a safe and handy asylum for their stationery, papers, and other similar accessories ; but now their wants began to receive greater attention, and such pieces of furniture as that under review came into being. The welcome accorded to them must have

been a hearty one indeed. Presently a further step was taken, and the requirements of both literature and the toilet, a curious combination, were considered conjointly, and this led to the production of models of the type portrayed in Fig. 4, Plate V. Is it possible that this introduction of the large toilet mirror in connection with the writing-table was a direct hint to the literary men of the day that the physical results of the “ poet’s frenzy," or the ill-treatment of the hair consequent upon the struggle to shape a pleasing phrase, or discover an apt quotation, called for rectification before de­parture from the scene of operations? At all events, it is more than possible that in such a glass as this Addison may have adjusted his peruke after the penning of one of Will Honeycomb’s escapades, or Pope after putting the finishing touches to the “Odyssey."

The advantages associated with even these dainty little bureaux, small as they were, were so great and obvious, that there was a demand for their enlargement in order that even greater comfort and accommodation should be pro­vided for the literary worker. Thus, in the course of time, the “bureau-bookcase” was evolved, and took, as one of its forms, that which is represented in Fig. i, Plate IV.; an example at which the great John Wesley himself did much of his writing when at home from his memorable journeyings.

By such stages the “ bureau – bookcase,” “escritoire," “secrdtaire," or “secretary,” grew from the simple desk supported by four turned legs, as we saw it in a preceding chapter, into an article of its present importance, and became one of the most indispensable pieces of furniture in every well-appointed eighteenth-century English household. Here we may leave it, in order to resume its consideration later.

As additional proof that, at this time, the furnisher deemed it desirable to cater for the requirements of the literary man, an illustration is given here of a reading and writing chair in

which, if report speak truly, John Gay—keen admirer of Pope, and originator of the English ballad-opera—was wont to study and write at his ease. It is more than probable that the idea for this was borrowed from the French “conversation chair,”


“Queen-Anne” Chair (Said to have been made for the Poet Gay)

or “gossip chair,” which was not uncommon in France at the time.

With the introduction of the bureau-bookcase, other cabinet work of a more pretentious description commenced to find its way into the home—particularly that designed for the storage of household linen, and for the reception and protection from dust of articles of wearing apparel. It was

not time yet for the wardrobe, as we know it nowadays, to take its place in the bedroom; but chests of drawers began to extend their sphere of influence by assuming greater dimensions ; and the linen press arrived to stay. The com­parative merits of the shelf or drawer, and the “ hanging cupboard," for the safe keeping of garments, may be gone into in connection with another matter; and I need simply say here that for that purpose the belles and beaux of the first half of the eighteenth century had to content themselves with such receptacles as the one illustrated in Fig. 5, Plate III. Whatever these lacked in the way of convenience, they cer­tainly atoned for by elegance of line. From types such as these came the “High Boy" (from the French “ Haut Bois”), or “Tall Boy," as it is more generally styled, which has yet to be brought under review, and will receive attention when we arrive at the work of Chippendale.

Furthermore, these were the early days of the cabinet as a distinct article of furniture for the display and protection of valuable knick-knacks and objets d’art et vertu generally, some “small beginnings" of which we find in Fig. 2, Plate III., and in Fig. 4, Plate IV. The former may have been used in the drawing-room for the purpose already specified, or in the dining-room as a successor to the old “ bread-and-cheese cupboard ’’—the sideboard had not been invented at the time of which I am writing.

The woods employed in the manufacture of the earlier “Queen-Anne" furniture in this country were chiefly oak, walnut, chestnut, beech, lime, and others of the softer species ; but after 1742, when mahogany was first used here in the making of furniture, that wood was freely requisitioned. We sometimes find, also, inlay of satinwood and “canary," as in Fig. 5, Plate III., and Fig. 1, Plate IV.

There still remains one article of no inconsiderable im­portance of which I have not yet spoken, and that is the mirror as an independent object, and distinct from its use as


(With heavy carving of leaves, fruit, and flowers after the style favoured by Grinling Gibbons)


an integral part of another piece of furniture. Wall mirrors were very common in the Queen-Anne and early Georgeian days ; but those belonging to that period, numerous as they were, present no difficulty in regard to identification, as all bear a very close resemblance to one another, and were much on the lines indicated by Fig. 2, Plate IV., on Plate VI., and by other illustrations in this chapter. The frame usually consisted of flat wood, cut to various shapes —some of them most fan­tastic — on which were “ planted " enriched mould­ings (the old “ egg – and – tongue" rendered yeoman’s service in this direction), somewhat heavy festoons of fruit, leaves, and flowers, and other detail of a character more or less decorative, and which, by-the-bye, was usu­ally gilt. It was not uncom­mon for the glass to be surmounted by a carved – and-gilt semblance of some strange and wonderful bird, of a species certainly not known to our old friend John

Подпись:Ray, and the classification of which would, I am sure, have defied the powers of even Cuvier himself.

But I must not linger longer over the work of this period—call it “Queen-Anne," “ Anglo – Dutch," “Early – Georgeian,” or what you will. Great as would be the pleasure in dwelling further upon the memories of those days, so full

of fascination, enough has been written and shown to indi­cate fully the fact that, with the dawn of the eighteenth – century, a new spirit—a spirit of grace and refinement—was infused into the domestic surroundings of our forefathers. Having once recognised its presence—and who could fail to do so in the face of testimony so convincing ?—it remains for us to follow it through many successive stages of development; to note how it swept away old and worn-out traditions, and substituted new ones in their place, whose introduction was destined to work wonders.




In the present chapter we have to deal, not with the forma­tion or development of a distinct style, but with a germ, if I may so describe it, from which grew a certain and not un­important phase of a style which will presently occupy our most serious attention. My comments for the moment will, therefore, be brief and to the point.

In the year 1744, a youth of eighteen, William Chambers by name, was registered as supercargo to the Swedish East India Company, and, during the course of his wander­ings, travelled much in China. Being artistically dis­

posed, he made special note of the architecture, both interior and exterior, which he saw in that country. Later, he settled in England, adopted architecture as his profession, became F. R.S. and F. R.A. S., Treasurer of the Royal Academy, and Knight of the Polar Star of Sweden, and was responsible for the design of a number of important buildings, notable amongst which stands Somerset House.

With the career of Sir William Chambers we need not concern ourselves ; we will only note his predilections for the “Chinese" in architecture. So pleased was he with much that he saw and sketched in the “ Land of the Sun,” that he afterwards published his notes in book form; and further, when called upon to prepare schemes for the improvement of the royal residences at Kew, he produced some Anglo – Chinese atrocities which gave great satisfaction to his dis­tinguished patrons. They apparently satisfied the architect himself as well, for they were afterwards reproduced in book form. In the ranks of contemporary architects this

“Chinese” work of Chambers aroused some antagonism and


much criticism, but he was prepared to defend his proceed­ings. He wrote: “ Though I am publishing a work of Chinese architecture, let it not be suspected that my inten­tion is to promote a taste so much inferior to the Antique and so very unfit for our climate ; but a particular so interest­ing as the architecture of one of the most extraordinary nations in the universe cannot be a matter of indifference to the true lover of the arts. . Again, he says : “ I cannot

conclude without observing that several of my good friends have endeavoured to dissuade me from publishing this work, through a persuasion that it would hurt my reputation as an architect; and I pay so much deference to their opinion that I certainly should have desisted had it not been too far ad­vanced before I knew their sentiments ; yet I cannot conceive why it should be criminal in a traveller to give an account of what he has seen worthy of notice in China, any more than in Italy, France, or any other country ; nor do I think it possible that any man should be so void of reason as to infer that an architect is ignorant in his profession merely from his having published designs of Chinese buildings.”

Notwithstanding these protestations, and in face of all adverse criticism, he coquetted with his pagodas, dragons, and bells, and endeavoured to bring them into harmony with our Western requirements. All the while he kept the originals steadfastly in view.

In his description of the interior of a Chinese palace, he tells us : “ The movables of the saloon consist of chairs, stools, and tables, made sometimes of rosewood, ebony, or lacquered work, and sometimes in bamboo only, which is cheap, and, nevertheless, very neat. When the movables are of wood, the seats of the stools are often of marble or porcelain, which, though hard* to sit on, are far from being unpleasant in a climate where the summer heats are excessive.”

With such furnishings in his mind he set to work to



produce something on the same lines, with the results shown on the two plates in this chapter. Of the examples here illustrated, all that I need say is that they are not such as would be likely ever to appeal very strongly to English tastes ; that the chairs are flimsy in appearance, and suitable only for production in cane or bamboo; and, finally, that all seem to indicate that the designer responsible for them was not blessed with an extensive knowledge of the technicalities of either cabinet-construction or chair making.

It only remains to state here that a noted English designer, Thomas Chippendale, became greatly interested in Chambers’s “Chinese" extravagances, studied them, and came to the conclusion that, in the proper hands, something might be done in that direction. By its admission to the homes of royalty a certain demand seemed to have been created for such work. Chippendale consequently took them in hand ; and what he made of them is fully demonstrated in my next chapter. This is my plea of justification for the inclusion in these pages of a note of Sir William Chambers’s “ Chinese ” efforts.

We have now arrived at that period in the history of the art and craft of cabinet designing and making when the names of leading members of their profession and trade became household words—for very often one man was proud to cultivate both, not deeming it beneath his dignity to stand at the bench and acquire a mastery over the tools and materials by which his ideas were to be carried out. I am inclined to think, nay, I am perfectly certain, that in this intimate practical knowledge, gained by actual experience, of the technicalities of the craft, is to be found the great secret of most of the success attained by the more prominent cabinet designers of the eighteenth century. Were such a state of things more prevalent to-day it would be far better for all concerned, but it is, unfortunately, the exception rather than the rule. There are several reasons for this falling-off, if I may so describe it. Let us briefly consider one or two of them.

In the first place, the average cabinet maker of the present day is so fully occupied with the technical side of his craft that he has but little time to study either historic styles or the principles of design. If he should by chance possess the ambition to do so, it must be accomplished at the sacrifice of both leisure and recreation ; a sacrifice for which he is, more likely than not, sneered at by his shopmates and snubbed by his employers. It is painful to have to say this, but an intimate acquaintance with the inner working of many cabinet factories enables me to insist emphatically upon the truth of this assertion. There are some exceptions, of course, to the rule : factories in which art is considered almost as


much as commercialism; but they are comparatively rare exceptions. Furthermore, the sub-division of labour, and the ever-growing introduction of improved tools, and specially of machinery of the time-and-labour-saving type, advantageous as they have been, and are, in very many ways, have been antago­nistic to the development of the craftsman ; tending rather to make a mere machine of the man himself—a simple “ minder " of wheels, cogs, and levers—instead of training him to be an intelligent, thinking, and creative worker, who finds genuine pleasure in the pursuance of “the daily round, the common task,” quite apart from the anticipation of Saturday’s pay.

It is very rare in these times, though not impossible, to find a “shop” where any one workman completely carries through the construction of any “job” from start to finish, as was the custom many years ago. Nowadays, in nine – hundred-and-ninety-nine cases out of a thousand, every part that can possibly be cut and shaped by machinery—even to the very carving itself—is so cut and shaped, and all that remains is for the various component parts, arriving beauti­fully glass-papered and “ clean ” from the machine shop, to be fitted together and passed on to the polisher for the finish­ing touches. Let it be understood that I am not saying a single word against all this, but simply picturing what actually exists. What is one result of these modern methods of manufacture? In one sense they are undoubtedly beneficial. Through them those of us who are blessed with but a small share of worldly goods are enabled to become possessed of tastefully-designed, solid, and perfectly-constructed furniture, which, a hundred years ago, would only have been within the reach of the wealthy ; thus our homes are made vastly the richer. This is one view of the case, and a most im­portant one withal, which, however, is intentionally ignored by a certain school of critics, who are prone to indulge in a wholesale condemnation of machinery in any shape or form, and raise the cry of Ichabod! Ichabod! at the slightest

mention of it. To any one possessing the faintest spark of in­telligence it is plain that labour-saving methods and devices such as those referred to are really productive of more good to the community at large than it is possible to estimate.

There is, however, another aspect of the question to be regarded ; and it is that which inspires the doleful wailings, even the maledictions, of the critics to whom I have alluded. The man who can do his daily work in the modern steam factory and take a delight in the labour of his hands—what little labour of the hands there is—defying the enervating, and, artistically speaking, debasing influences of the conditions by which he is governed, must be of a very rare breed indeed ; while for the youngster who is placed there to learn thoroughly the craft in all its branches, or even in one branch alone, the case is practically hopeless. Thus we are between the pro­verbial “two stools." Much might be said, again, on the decline of the apprenticeship system, a decline inevitable with the development of existing conditions, which are responsible for so much ; but I must not be tempted to enter upon the discussion of that subject.

So much for the changes that have come about in respect of manufacture. Now let me say a brief word or two on the question of the training of the designer. It will, of course, be contended that the nation spends tens of thousands of pounds in founding and supporting museums, libraries, and technical and art schools and classes, where the young craftsman may learn all he needs and at a nominal expense, if he be so disposed. Are not gold, silver, and bronze medals, and book prizes, awarded annually for the best works sub­mitted in competition? What then? Let anyone who would note the outcome of all this expenditure in the direction of school and class founding, instruction, and prize-giving, pay a visit to the annual exhibitions of these competitive works held at the Royal School of Art, South Kensington, and there form his own judgment as to the net result. So far, at all

events, as the designs for furniture and woodwork are con­cerned, the reports of the highly paid judges—eminent men, it is true, but rarely if ever including any bond fide repre­sentative of the craft, or, indeed, anyone who has made any mark at all in this particular branch of art — are almost invariably condemnatory ; while in the eyes of the practical expert the display is always lamentably poor. It must be obvious, therefore, that there is something radically wrong some where ; where the fault lies an examination of the systems of instruction specified by the Science and Art Department for adoption throughout the land will make perfectly clear. I need not say more here on this question than that one thing is absolutely certain, namely, the students are in no way to blame.

Подпись: GAs I have already indicated, early in the eighteenth century the names of certain cabinet makers became promi­nent among their fellows, and they have been handed down to posterity. There is one which, by common consent— whether rightly or wrongly we shall presently see—is singled out pre-eminently from the rest, and that is the name of Thomas Chippendale. It is constantly on the lips of all who pose—I say “pose " advisedly—as authorities on old furniture ; to them, indeed, it is a veritable “ shibboleth ” ; and from the awesome respect paid to it by that section of the community who acquire their knowledge of such matters from the “ Phyllises," “ Angelines," and other fair mentors on household art who add such a charm to the pages of some of the ladies’ papers, anyone ignorant of the subject would conclude that Chippendale was by far the most highly-endowed designer and cabinet maker of his age. He was nothing of the kind; and no one can claim with any measure of justification that he was. Why is it, then, that his name is so revered, and so frequently dinned into our ears? It is difficult to say exactly, but there are one or two reasons that may be put forward in answer to that query.

Chippendale, for one thing, was chief among the first to break away determinedly from traditions which had been held in veneration for very many years; furthermore, he practically originated a new style, or perhaps it would be more correct to say a series of styles, new to this country, for his work was many sided.

Of the early life of Chippendale few, if any, particulars are available, and we know little or nothing of the opening years of his business career. But that he was not long in “ making a name," and, moreover, in winning commercial success, we do know; for we find him, at a comparatively early age, occupying extensive premises in a quarter of Lon­don which was then most fashionable, viz.:—Saint Martin’s Lane. (The only remaining portion of these premises, by the way, has only recently come into the hands of the “house­breaker.”) He enjoyed the distinguished patronage of the royalty and nobility of his time; in fact, it would seem that the belles and beaux of the courts of the early Georges came to regard the establishment of this famous old “ upholder " as a convenient rendezvous where, whether they were in search of furniture or not, they might congregate together and discuss matters of moment, or the tittle-tattle of the day—the fall of Walpole ; the “ chances " at Culloden ; the resignation of Pitt; the king’s madness; the outbursts of Lord George Gordon ; or, more probably still, the latest escapade of the

Duchess of X——– , Y—— , or Z——- . We can picture the

dandies of the period, bewigged and bepowdered, vying with one another to win a smile, or the tap of a fan, from the reigning beauties in their paint and patches, by the relation of the latest choice bit of scandal from the coffee-house. How the brilliant colouring of their silks, satins, and velvets must have “set off” the rich mahogany environment of “Louis – Quinze,” “Chinese,” “ Gothick,” and “Ribbon-Back” crea­tions placed there to tempt their patronage. And, to complete the picture, there was the crowd of chair-men, patiently wait-

ing with their gaily-bedizened chairs at the doors, to solicit favours or receive orders. There can be little doubt that many a time a visit to Chippendale was made to serve as an excuse for a morning gossip ; and it can well be surmised that the prototypes of not a few of the characters in “The School for Scandal " were personally well known to this fashionable old tradesman. But I must not be tempted to draw upon imagination, enticing as it is to do so when dealing with a period so filled with romantic memories. Plain facts await our attention, and it is with facts that it is our first duty to deal here.

Before proceeding further, let me insist that the fact that Chippendale may be regarded as the pioneer, or, at any rate, as the chief among the pioneers of the movement which eventually resulted in the evolution of our late eighteenth – century furniture—which commanded the unrestrained ad­miration of the whole of the civilised world—furnishes no justification whatever for the all too common practice of lauding him and his work “ to the skies.”

It is very common to meet people—I personally have met them—supposed to have a knowledge of the history of furni­ture instructing art classes (they are or have been on boards of examiners appointed by our National Science and Art Department, and “ on the press ” their name is “ Legion! ”) who regard as “ Chippendale ” everything designed or manufactured in this country during the period that elapsed between the years 1750 and 1800. And, the worst of it is, they make a point of posing as guides and counsellers in this branch of study, when all the time they ought, them­selves, to be reading up the subject.

Not only has the name “ Chippendale ” fallen into common use as applied to styles with which it has nothing whatever to do, but, through being frequently employed in the trade to indicate a certain depth of colour in mahogany— a depth of colour for which age is solely responsible, and

which was never looked for by the old maker whose name is so constantly taken in vain—it has been taken up by writers who do not understand the why and wherefore of its applica­tion, and is vaguely used in such a manner as to convey the impression that it really refers to a special species of wood. Whether that wood was planted, grown, or discovered by our long-suffering cabinet maker is not divulged. In order to show that I am not attempting to indulge in cheap humour, I may mention an actual case of such misunderstanding which recently came within my experience. A lady of no ordinary culture was puzzled, on reading in one of the penny weekly magazines that a certain article of furniture, of which a sketch was given, should be “made in ‘Chippendale."’ She came to me to ask if I could tell her what wood “ Chip­pendale ” was!

I need hardly explain, I think, that Chippendale was among the first in this country to employ, for the manu­facture of furniture, Spanish mahogany of the finest figure and colour procurable. In the course of time the wood has, by a natural process, deepened in colour and attained a beautiful richness of tone, and to describe it in all its maturity the term “Chippendale mahogany" is generally used in the trade, though “ Heppelwhite mahogany " or “ Sheraton mahogany " would be quite as accurate. Owing to the great demand which has arisen for articles made in mahogany of this character, artificial means are employed nowadays to produce a colour and richness as near the original as possible, and, as a means of identification, the term has passed from the workshop to the trade catalogue, from the trade catalogue to its retail companion, thence to the salesman, and so on to the general public. Why it should be termed “ Chippendale mahogany" particularly is hard to explain, for exactly the same wood was used by scores of other eighteenth-century cabinet makers, and has undergone precisely the same natural process of deepening.

My contention is, then, that Chippendale has been ele­vated to far too lofty a pedestal. Contemporaneously with him there were other and cleverer men in the field, who, following his example, without copying his methods, carved out a way for themselves entirely by the force of their own abilities, and created individual and distinct styles, between which and that of their great competitor there existed little or no re­lationship. To give him all the credit for that for which he was in no way responsible, and which, moreover, surpassed anything that he ever produced, is obviously extremely unjust to others.

We must not, however, go to the opposite extreme, and fail to accord honour where honour is due ; and it must be recognised that the way for the later eighteenth-century cabinet makers and designers was, to a certain extent, pre­pared by Chippendale, whose design book—“The Gentle­man’s and Cabinet Maker’s Director/’ published in 1754— was really the first work of its kind of any importance to make its appearance in this country. Original copies of this are now so excessively scarce as to be practically unobtain­able ; even badly damaged and most imperfect ones are eagerly snapped up whenever they come into the market, which is but rarely, and “ fetch " as much as.£30, .£40, and.£50. The complete book has, I believe, been reproduced more than once, and even copies of the reproduction are now difficult to obtain, as dealers and collectors have only been too glad to get possession of, and pay high prices for, them.

It has already been pointed out that of Chippendale him­self as an individual practically few biographical details are obtainable, but we need not concern ourselves much on that account, as they are not essential to our present purpose, though, were they available, they might perhaps enhance the interest of our study. It is, however, of the work and not the man that we have to form an opinion as complete and correct as may be.

Proceeding to discover and deal in order with the leading characteristics of the style to which this chapter is devoted, I may say at once that those characteristics are numerous, and to gain a thorough knowledge of them all is a matter which calls for the expenditure of considerable time and not a little study. Fortunately, however, for the student, connoisseur, and collector, they are most unmistakably marked, and, therefore, present little or no difficulty in distinguishing when once known. As is only natural, extraordinarily faithful copies of original pieces have been manufactured in vast numbers, particularly during recent years. They are still being turned out by the van-load, and to distinguish the spurious from the genuine—spurious, that is to say, so far as date of production is concerned—is not by any means so simple a matter; in­deed, in order to succeed, we need long practical experience. To the question of style, however, and not that of authenticity, we shall devote our attention principally.

In the preparation—I use the word “ preparation ” inten­tionally, as of many examples we can hardly say “origination" —of his designs, Chippendale appropriated ideas often and without hesitation from many sources; at one time dallying with the “Gothick," as it was then called; at another with the Chinese as rendered by Sir William Chambers; and nearly always keeping up an intimate converse with the French. From the last named, indeed, he drew most freely for inspiration, and to that section, therefore, of his work which is most strongly influenced by it we will turn our attention first ; for examples belonging to that phase are the most numerous.

It is, of course, only natural that a few of the very earliest productions of this designer and maker should possess some, at least, of the characteristics of the style which prevailed in this country from the end of the seventeenth century to the time that saw the commencement of his business career, namely the “ Queen-Anne," yet the extent to which they did

so was much less than might reasonably have been antici­pated. Indeed, it was evidently his fixed and unalterable determination to get as far away from the u Queen-Anne ” as possible—whatever use he may have been inclined to make of other styles—and it must be admitted that he generally succeeded in so doing. What few features he did retain for a time will be duly noted as we proceed.

Though Chippendale did not copy, to any appreciable extent, from the contemporary or prior productions of his own countrymen, I must repeat that he was not averse to borrowing from other sources. As a matter of fact, he was seldom sufficiently self-reliant to depend solely upon his own genius for the origination of new ideas; and, bold as it may appear to be on my part to make the assertion, I should class him as one of the greatest appropriators—if I may employ the term—of his own, or, for the matter of that, of any other time.

At that period in his career when he was of an age to decide what course he should adopt and pursue, there were two styles in furniture and decoration which shared the favour of the public on the other side of the Channel—the “ Louis – Quatorze," the popularity of which was gradually waning, and the “ Louis-Quinze,” which was supplanting it by leaps and bounds. It is evident to all who have closely followed the development of his work, that this master set himself, with fixed determination, to make a careful study of both those old French modes, and that he did so to such an extent as to become completely enamoured of them. So great indeed was the fascination they exerted upon his mind, that everything he did for a time revealed their influence in a most marked degree. In his complete mastery of the “ Louis-Quatorze ” and “ Louis-Quinze," particularly of the latter, the secret of both Chippendale’s strength and weak­ness, and success and failure, is to be found. On the one hand, it endowed many of his designs with a piquancy and

consequent charm which they would not otherwise have possessed ; on the other, it led him to indulge in extrava­gances which, as we shall see later, were altogether unpar­donable. (When I speak of Chippendale’s “success” and “failure,” the former must be taken in a commercial and the latter in an artistic sense; for many of his greatest atrocities sold far better in his own times, and sell far better to-day, than did examples which were characterised by better taste. It is, unfortunately, not at all uncommon for such to be the case.)

It was not, however, from the French alone that Chippen­dale borrowed. The “Gothick” came in for a share, though not a great share, of his attention. He also tried to, and, as a matter of fact, did improve upon the futile attempt strenuously made by Sir William Chambers to adapt Chinese forms and ideas to our Western requirements; endeavouring to create a sort of “ Anglo-Chinese ” style which would not be out of place in the British home.

Thus, as will be apparent already, there are at least three distinct phases of “Chippendale,” each equally authentic, and each of which will be duly considered in turn ; while mention must be made of a fourth later. We will commence with the “French,” as being the most important.

If any justification be demanded by the reader for my assertion that Chippendale became, so to speak, saturated with the spirit of the “ Louis – Quatorze ” and Louis – Quinze,” it will easily be found not only on one but on all the plates included in this chapter. The designs here given furnish ample proof, for the satisfaction of all who may object to my “ point of view,” that my judgment has not merely been formed after the examination of a few solitary and exceptional examples discovered here and there. It must be noted, moreover, that the models illustrated are absolutely characteristic in every respect, are reproduced from “The Gentleman’s and Cabinet Maker’s Director” itself,

and include the very cream of Chippendale’s designs. No possible exception to their selection or introduction can, therefore, be taken.

Yet there is a certain individuality about the majority, though not all, of the pieces illustrated, which marks them most distinctly and unmistakably as “ Chippendale,” so that, permeated by French influence as they are, they could not be described with any degree of accuracy as in the French Style. Take, for example, all the chairs shown on Plates I.,

II., III., IV., V., VI., and IX.

In what, then, reposes the secret of this individuality? The explanation is not far to seek. The truth is that Chippen­dale elected, as a general rule, to follow on the lines of the Parisian chair maker in the matter of detail rather than in that of form, as will be apparent from an examination of the chairs referred to ; and, although he indulged to his heart’s content in the employment of Rococo coqidllage, it was generally employed by him—I am speaking of his chairs now—to “dress up” forms of a comparatively simple charac­ter. The same remark applies, though in a smaller degree, to his cabinet work, but that we shall discuss later.

The general outline, or shaping, of the majority of “Chip­pendale-French ” chair backs varies but slightly from that of the model indicated in Fig. 1, Plate I.; therefore little or no difficulty will be experienced in classifying them correctly. The “ Chippendale-Chinese ” chairs, it is true, differ from these almost in every point; but they form a distinct group and will be dealt with by themselves.

The backs of chairs of the type at present under review are nearly always slightly wider at the top than in the middle —that is to say, where the back legs join the seat—the width diminishing downwards in a slight, indeed almost imper­ceptible, though extremely graceful, curve, not by any means easy to imitate. The legs, which, in the back, sometimes have the corners rounded off, and which taper upwards in most

subtle shapings, usually “ finish square" beneath the seat, and sometimes, though not very frequently, terminate in a shaped, and occasionally decorated, toe. Sometimes they form a right angle to the seat (underneath), and at others curve slightly backwards to the toe (see accompanying illustration). The backs of the “ Chippendale-French " chairs always curve backwards to the top, as shown. These characteristics may be regarded as unmistakable and distinguishing features; and where they are found exactly as described we may be pretty confident in pronouncing judgment. With regard, however, to the filling in of the space be­tween the upper part of the two back legs —that is to say the back proper—the varia­tions to be met with are most numerous. Their number, though, need not cause any misgiving, for the variations, many as they are, and complicated as they may appear to be, are so closely allied one to another that to identify them at a glance, after even comparatively little study, is the simplest thing imaginable.

Подпись: Showing shaping of back and legs as viewed from the side As to this filling in : a close and careful examination of the backs illustrated, com­paring one with another, will result in the discovery that a certain class of shaping, closely resembling two capital C’s placed back-to-back in all manner of positions—frequently inverted, sometimes “frilled," and generally terminating in scrolls or foliations—was very much favoured by this designer. The precise nature of the detail referred to is made perfectly clear by the sketch given opposite, and the method of its application may be seen by reference to the two chairs on Plate I., and others on Plates

II., III., and IV. To a greater or less degree, it recurs in nearly every one, the curves being more or less accentuated as occasion demands in order to fill the space to be so decorated.

It is interesting to note, in passing, the light in which this detail was regarded by Isaac Ware, a King’s Surveyor, who was contemporary with Chippendale. He wrote : “ It is our misfortune to see, at this time, an unmeaning scrawl of C’s, inverted and looped together, taking the place of Greek and Roman Elegance, even in our most inexpensive decora­tions. It is called the French, and let them have the praise of it; the Gothic Shafts, and Chinese, are not beyond it, nor below it, in poorness of imagination.” Ware, I need hardly say, was a disciple of the Inigo Jones school.


Showing employment of the C-form of detail (See page 106 for reference)

Having briefly summed up the salient features of the “Chippendale-French” chair back preparatory to the ex­amination of individual examples, let us now turn for a short space to the matter of legs. The belief is entertained by many people that Chippendale employed the square leg chiefly, to the exclusion of other forms. The prevalence of this erroneous impression is to be accounted for by the fact that, in his less expensive chairs, he usually did so ; and those, of course, constitute the class most frequently to be met with nowadays, as the number manufactured, in the natural order of things, far exceeded that of the more costly type. But the

square leg was by no means his favourite ; twelve of the ex­amples selected for illustration here are conclusive proof to the contrary. As a matter of fact, we are justified in asserting that the “ cabriole " form, inspired, of course, by the “ Louis – Quinze," ranked first in his estimation. The shaping of the “ Chippendale cabriole," however, is generally less pro­nounced, and consequently more subtle, than in the French originals, though more often than not it is enriched with carved detail of one kind or another which is borrowed either from the “ Louis-Quatorze ” or the “ Louis-Quinze." It should


Showing relationship between “Chippendale” and “ Queen-Anne ” Chair Backs

(See below for reference)

be noted, moreover, that this detail very frequently includes the C-like shaping, carved on the corners of the inside of the knee, as shown in the sketch. This recurs constantly.

I have remarked, as may be remembered, that there are some few points of resemblance between the “ Chippendale " and the “Queen-Anne" : the introduction of the “cabriole" leg is one. As to this point, it may be explained that, in reality, the one employed by Chippendale is more closely akin to the “ Queen-Anne" form than to the French. Apart from this, there is yet another mark of resemblance in the two styles,


Page See nr,, 120 .. 122





which will be seen by reference to the backs illustrated in this chapter and those appearing in the chapter on “ Queen- Anne." A comparison of the two series will show that the outlines of the centre “balusters/’ or “splats,” in some of the “Chippendale” backs are nearly related to many which were common to the preceding style, though the details with which they are enriched, and, indeed, the general treatment, are vastly different.

Подпись: Plan of typical “Chippendale” chair seat As regards our preliminary summing-up of the “ Chippen­dale” chair, it must be noted finally that the frame of the seat seldom, if ever, forms a rectangular figure, but is wider at the front than at the back. By the adoption of this form, ample seating accommodation is provided without necessitating a back of clumsy and ungainly width—a most important point where grace of shape is a desideratum. Coming now to the “ Chippendale ” cabinet work which shows the strongest evidence of French influ­ence, we find that, in truth, there is very little which does not reveal this designer’s passion for the Rococo in one guise or another, though there are some few pieces—to be considered later — which are altogether innocent of it.

Those, however, as we shall see presently, are simple almost to the point of severity. In the construction of his “carcase work” Chippendale did not adopt French lines to any very great extent; that is to say, not so far as general outward shaping was concerned. Instances in which he departed from that rule, however, and emulated the “ Louis-Quatorze ” and “ Louis-Quinze ” in that direction are not unknown; indeed, two are illustrated in Plate I., where we have a chest of drawers, or “ commode,” and wardrobe, in which the bombe form is introduced. Such examples, however, are most rare and command very high prices when obtainable at all.

This designer more generally, in fact almost invariably,

contented himself by building-up a solidly-made, and, usually, unpretentious, “ carcase ” of sensible proportions ; when that was accomplished, he set about planning his scheme for the embellishment of the surfaces of the doors, drawer-fronts, and other available spaces, imparting a definite character to the simple foundation or basis by drawing upon his stock-in­trade of rococo detail; and no one can deny that he made pretty free use of it.

This detail, it must be understood, was not always carved into the solid wood of the drawer – fronts, doors, or other places for which it was destined, as, in the opinion of many critics, it should have been. It was in most instances cut out and carved separately, and then “ pinned " and glued on, and was, therefore, simple to conceive and carry out, involving, at the same time, a very insignificant outlay. By the means described, the most intricate and elaborate schemes, whose execution in solid carving would have been terribly costly, could be turned out to the heart’s content of the maker. Some exception may be taken to the instability of this class of enrichment. “ Pins ” are liable to rust, snap, and work loose; the best of glue will perish in time; and when any of those eventualities come about the security of this applied carving has vanished. It can be “ stuck on " again, of course, but the performance of such repairing, in nine cases out of ten, has been deferred until the recalcitrant pieces have dis­appeared never to return.

In this detail once more we have a persistent repetition of the inevitable C’s, accompanied by leafage, u shells,” scrolls, “ frilling ” or “ scalloping,” “ stalactites,” and almost every other variety of rococo detail. In the more elaborate pieces they are thrown together in such profusion and with such a total disregard of any consistency that the result is far from pleasing or decorative. These rococo extravagances are not confined by any means to the situations I have indicated. They break out again with renewed vigour in the pediments,


Reference in Text



Commode. See 112 Clock cases. ,, 126



See 105, 106 ,, hi





many of which are fearful and wonderful to behold, and cause us to sigh longingly for a return to the dignified simplicity and restraint of the good old “ Queen-Anne," with something closely resembling which, by-the-bye, Chippendale does favour us occasionally, but all too rarely. But it is not my province to indulge too freely in criticism of this point; my aim is simply to make as clear as possible the main characteristics of the style itself “ with all faults as lotted."

As a further illustration of the extent to which this cabinet maker sometimes allowed his leaning towards the Rococo to carry him beyond the bounds of all reason, and to lead him to the perpetration of all manner of absurdities, I may refer to the frame of the wall-mirror, Plate I., girandole (candle-bracket) Plate II.; mirror, Plate III.; and other similar pieces in the following plates. Apart from their unredeemed ugliness these examples are constructionally open to very grave objection, and for the following reason. Much of the pierced and carved detail is really too delicate to be produced in wood, for, obvi­ously, a great deal of it must unavoidably be cut across the grain; this being the case, as anyone who possesses the smallest knowledge of the nature of wood will be well aware, a very slight pressure is sufficient to cause breakage. If cast or forged in metal no serious objection could be urged against them on the score of construction ; but in brittle wood they invite disaster, and are, therefore, to say the least, undesir­able as articles of furniture for everyday use.

No review of “ Chippendale " would be complete without special mention of his famous “ ribbon-back " chairs, which have time and again been singled out for particular praise by writers who are looked up to by a certain section of the com­munity. I have, therefore, included a couple of examples of that type, which will be found on Plate IV. Here we have con­structional ornament with a vengeance! Whether it is to be defended or condemned is a question which opens up great possibilities of discussion, and many supporters of both sides

would be found. In the types under review, however, I say most emphatically, and my opinion may be accepted for what it is worth, that this constructional ornament is abso­lutely and utterly indefensible. An effort has been made by one writer of some repute to justify the employment of the fluttering and knotted wooden ribbon as a support for the back by claiming it as a direct descendant of the old Celtic interlacing. That argument is as far fetched as it could well be, and will not stand the test of proof. The Celtic knots and interlacing were purely conventional and decorative, being kept entirely subservient to construction ; while Chippendale’s “ribbon” is ostensibly as close an imitation of the real thing as it is possible to produce in wood ; it does not decorate con­struction, it is constructive in itself. We can only account for the popularity of the “ Ribbon-Back,” so far as I can see, by remembering that it belongs to what may be described as the “ Pretty-Pretty School,” which, I need hardly say, is always certain to be popular, especially with the fairer sex.

We have observed that Chippendale, even when he was borrowing from and adapting the French modes most ex­tensively, generally stamped his productions with the mark of his own individuality, but I must not omit to point out that there are exceptions to that rule. The little commode by the window on Plate II., the screen on Plate IV., and two of the arm-chairs on Plates VII. and IX., though they appeared in “The Gentleman’s and Cabinet Maker’s Director,” are not “Chippendale” but pure and unadulterated French. It would not be at all surprising to discover that they were copied direct from some Parisian originals, or perhaps from a French cabinet maker’s design sheets or books.

It is not necessary, I think, to enlarge further upon this section of Chippendale’s work, for, by a careful study of the accompanying illustrations, supplemented by the explanatory remarks and criticisms I have been so bold as to offer, the reader should be able to acquire a thorough and exhaustive


Reference in Text


Подпись: Chairs. Wall mirror. Bedsteads.


See 70, 105, 106 „ in

..120 1


Chests. See 122

Press. ,, 124

Wall cupboard. ,, 126


knowledge of every salient feature of “ Chippendale-French," sufficient indeed to entitle him to be regarded as an authority upon the subject.

I will turn now to another phase of this designer’s work. Having dealt with him in his French moods, it will be in­teresting to see what measure of success attended his efforts to follow in the footsteps of Sir William Chambers, whose interest in all things Chinese led him, as we have seen in a previous chapter, to publish a series of plates devoted to the architecture and furniture of the Land of the Sun, and to endeavour to induce the British cabinet maker to take a leaf occasionally out of the book of his “Celestial ” fellow-crafts­men. Chambers’s enterprise was not successful, for reasons which may be discussed further presently ; hence we are naturally curious to discover whether Chippendale met with any better fortune, and, if so, why?

First, let us compare the designs which the former pub­lished with those prepared and presented to the public by the “upholder" of Saint Martin’s Lane. It was a case of friendly competition between architect and furniture designer—both of them, by-the-bye, enjoying the special patronage of royalty —and it is for us to judge now which of the two carried off the laurels.

I have said that the favoured architect of George the First, notwithstanding his ability, failed in this direction, and I will not make such an assertion without furnishing proof of its truth, and, if possible, explaining the cause of failure. That the suggestions which came from his pencil were far more faithful, in every particular, to the original Chinese by which they were inspired than were those of Chippendale is incon­testable, and that fact is one of the main reasons why they “fell flat." That which may be in every way admirably suited to the Chinese home must not necessarily be ex­pected to appeal with success to our Western tastes, as was

practically illustrated in the case in point. Chambers’s


designs, therefore, went but little further than the pages of the book in which they first saw the light. Another reason for their failure was the lack, on the part of their designer, of a knowledge of the technicalities of cabinet and chair con­struction—an ignorance common to the majority of architects even to-day ; and it is equally clear that he did not by any means fully appreciate the requirements of the interior of the English home, gifted as he may have been in planning and superintending its erection.

His efforts, nevertheless, were not altogether fruitless in the end, for his designs found their way into the hands of Chippendale, who, struck by the idea which had inspired their production, decided that there might be “something in it.” He determined eventually that it might be worth his while to bring that “something” out. It was fresh ground, at all events, and he made up his mind to cultivate it for a time. Chippendale was fully equipped with the practical knowledge which was, of course, essential, and which Chambers lacked, and he thoroughly understood the requirements of the British public so far as furniture was concerned, for he had made a special study of their fads and fancies—with no inconsiderable profit to himself. As a natural consequence, he met with far greater success in his endeavours to accomplish what was really an almost impossible task. Chambers’s Anglo-Chinese furniture was, as we have seen, flimsy in appearance ; his designs give us the impression of being more especially adapted for execu­tion in cane or bamboo than in sturdier and more durable woods. Chippendale, of course, saw at once that, though such productions might possibly do occasionally for those grotesque extravagances which aped Orientalism, and were, to a certain extent, in vogue as smoking-rooms, in winter gardens, etc., in the palaces and mansions of the royalty and nobility of those times—such as the Royal Pavilion at Brighton—they did not in any way answer the requirements


Reference in Text



Chairs. See 105, 106, hi, 245

Screens. ,, 112, 115, 126, 245

Wall bookshelves. ,, 117, 126



of the living rooms of the average English home ; and he was perfectly right in coming to that conclusion. He, there­fore, set himself to create an Anglo-Chinese style on his own account, and one, withal, which might be rendered in his beloved mahogany ; one which would not only have sufficient stability of construction to inspire confidence in the minds of those for whose use it was intended, but which would, at the same time, appeal to their taste for novelty.

The principal feature of this phase of “ Chippendale" is, of course, the ever-present lattice work, to which it owes whatever measure of Chinese character it may possess, and in the invention of which this designer displayed not a little ingenuity.

If we consider the “ Chippendale-Chinese ” chairs first, in order to avoid all possibility of misunderstanding or confu­sion, it must at once be made clear that their general form differs very greatly from that of those which we have already studied; whereas we shall see that there is little or no radical variation in the constructional outline of the cabinet work. The small “ Horse” screen on Plate IV.; the first of the two chairs on Plate V.; the two lower cabinets and the chair on Plate VI.; the upper arm-chair and “small” chair on Plate IX.; the two chairs and table on Plate X.; and two chairs on Plate XI., are admirable examples of this style; and with their forms and detail “in our eye,” there can be no possible difficulty in deciding what is “ Chippendale-Chinese ” and what is not.

It should be noticed particularly that, in the chairs, the rectangular form of back is most frequently employed, the top and sides being perfectly straight for nearly the whole of the length, but sometimes rounded very slightly where they join at the corners. The top rail of the back was occasionally shaped, by way of variation (see Plates VI. and XI.), but not to any very great extent; while, here and there, in order to put a finishing touch, so to speak, to the

lattice work, scraps of coquillage were introduced, though generally kept well within bounds, as the illustrations will indicate. ■

In dealing with cabinet work Chippendale found that it was not so easy to impart to his productions the desired Chinese character as when dealing with chairs. The re­spective conditions controlling the construction of both were by no means the same. In chairs he had what was to all intents and purposes a mere framework of wood, the open spaces of which could be filled with any decorative detail that his fancy might dictate. This framing formed a perfect setting for the lattice work of which he made such good use. But with cabinets, chests, and other articles of that description the case was very different. In these, plain filled-in expanses had to be treated instead of open spaces, and for such the ordinary lattice, by reason of its very nature, was of but little use. Notwithstanding the fact that the lattice itself could not be requisitioned, it was obviously essential to secure a similar effect by some means or another if the Chinese character were to be retained. Chippendale surmounted the difficulty with great ingenuity. He sketched-out his lattice-like patterns for the enrichment of cabinet work, but made them much more delicate and intricate than those intended for the backs and arms of chairs; he then had them cut, by means of the fret-saw, in thin mahogany. This, of course, was far too fragile to stand without a supporting background of some kind; it was therefore “planted-on" or “applied" to the solid foundations afforded by the wood with which the spaces to be decorated were already filled-in, and was firmly fixed in position there by means of “pins" (tiny nails or “brads") and glue.

Although he had succeeded so far in securing a certain degree of the requisite flavour in his Chinese confections, Chippendale was not content until he had made it stronger. He turned his attention therefore to the pagoda—a form I


■ference ix Text


Подпись:Подпись: Page See 115Page

Secretaires. See 124, 245 Wall bracket. 126

need hardly say, essentially Chinese—and he was not to be baffled. Here was the very thing for his pediment ; nothing could be better. They had to be touched up, of course, with a little coquillage; the inevitable C’s were fitted in somehow here and there; top-heavy naturalesque bunches of flowers came in handy as finials ; and the whole, with other nondescript detail, resulted in those strange medleys which we see in the pediments of the wall bookcases on Plates

IV. and V., the two lower cabinets on Plate VI., and the hanging bookshelves on Plates X. and XI. To sum up briefly the total outcome of this experiment, the chairs proved to be a greater success than the cabinet work. They were quaint and not altogether unattractive in appearance ; roomy, and, by the aid of a generous supply of loose cushions, might be made fairly comfortable. The cabinets, on the contrary, I am disposed to regard rather in the light of freaks ; though we may perhaps say of them, as was said of the curate’s egg, immortalised by our friend “ Mr. Punch,” that they are u good in parts.”

But the applied fret was in every way too useful a means of enrichment to be confined to the Chinese productions exclusively; and, having once discovered and perfected it, Chippendale employed it freely in many designs other than those based upon the household gods of the “ Celestials.” It was, in the first place, most effective; and, what was equally important, the use of the fret-saw cost but little. The process of production was still further cheapened by clamp­ing a number of the thin sheets or strips of wood together and piercing them all to the desired pattern at one and the same time. Indeed, they can not only be cut more expedi­tiously in this way, but even better than singly, for the saw obtains a surer “ grip,” and cuts altogether more satisfactorily.

There are few situations in which the applied fret cannot be used, so we find it introduced by Chippendale to square chair and table legs and similar supports, as shown in the

accompanying illustrations, as well as to panels, pilasters, friezes, drawer-fronts, and the like.

In order to convey a more adequate idea of the character of these frets than we can glean from the necessarily im­pressionistic indication of them in the sketches of complete pieces of furniture, I have had a number drawn to a larger scale, and included with other characteristic detail on Plate VIII.

I have mentioned that this designer, during his search in all manner of different fields for ideas, coquetted now and again with the Gothic, or “Gothick" as he preferred to call it; but that old style failed to gain his favour to any great extent, or maybe it proved too severe for him, and un­relentingly resisted his advances. Be that as it may, he did not make much progress in that direction ; but we must see what he did manage to do. In Fig. 12, Plate VIII., just the end of a “Chippendale-Gothic” commode appears, which, we must admit, is not altogether devoid of a certain quaint charm ; while a touch of the same feeling is present in the press or cabinet on Plate VI. (as also in one or two other examples), though here it is mixed up with French and other detail Of a hybrid nature. With these few pieces of “ Chippendale-Gothic ” before us, however, we do not experience any very keen regret that their originator did not proceed much further on those lines.

Reverting, for a moment, to the frets, it is important to point out that they are almost always purely geometrical, and therefore repetitive, in design, consisting principally of a succession of rectangular repeating figures, so interwoven one with another as to present an appearance of great in­tricacy. Curves of any kind were not often introduced into them, though they do occur in some cases. In these we find ovals, circles, and segments of such figures, as in Fig. 1, Plate VIII. The student and collector will do well to bear this characteristic in mind, as its remembrance is a great aid to identification.


Reference in* Text


Chairs. S~e 70, 105, 115

Подпись: Page Lower cabinet. See 115 Door tracery. ,, 124 Тед caddy. ,, 126 Upper cabinet. ,, 118 table. ,, 122

In writing about the furniture of any part of the eighteenth century, we must be careful not to omit reference to the four – post bedsteads of the particular period to be dealt with. These constituted a most important factor in the homes of the wealthier classes in the old days, long before the productions of the forge and foundry had seriously invaded the sleeping apartment and provided it with “ black,” “black-and-brass,” and “all brass” (vide the furnishing catalogue) creations, with their patent woven-wire and spring mattresses, which sup­planted the sturdy oak and rich mahogany productions with their elaborate draping.

It is not in any way necessary for us to discuss the respec­tive advantages of the wood, as opposed to the metal, bed­stead, however greatly we may regret the disappearance of the former from our midst; and I will rest content with simply placing on record the various types that were to the fore at different periods, leaving the question of their healthi­ness for hygienists to fight out between themselves. In justice, however, to the modern manufacturer, I must draw attention to the fact that it is now easy to obtain wooden bedsteads which are in every way absolutely free from the insanitary disadvantages which, owing to their method of construction, were inseparable from the older types. The frames of these modern successors are made of iron, and the mattresses of woven wire of the cleanliest and most approved description.

The collector who may be desirous of adding genuine old eighteenth-century “four posters” to his store of treasures may at the outset be warned that no small difficulty will be experienced in doing so, for they are but rarely to be found in their entirety. For this difficulty two reasons may be ad­vanced. In the first place, the number originally made was comparatively small; in the second, as bedsteads of this class have fallen almost entirely into disuse, those which survived until eighteenth-century styles came again into favour after

the “dark age” of the early-Victorian period, have been “cut down,” and the various parts have undergone transformation into other articles. The pillars have, more often than not, been converted into graceful pedestals for the reception and support of candelabra, lamps, busts, small statuary, and other ornamental knick-knacks. It may perhaps strike us as a pity that this should have been done, and some may regard it as an act of vandalism ; but we cannot fail to recognise that they admirably serve the new purpose to which they have been put. It must be remembered, too, that even were the complete “four poster” obtainable, the most ardent of private collectors would find it somewhat of “a white elephant” if it had to be accommodated within the limits of the average “villa residence” of to-day. It was evidently Chippendale’s aim in designing his bedsteads to endow them with as great an appearance of imposing grandeur as possible, and he re­lied for effect almost as much on the draping with which they were dressed up as on the woodwork. Indeed, he consider­ably “ overdid ” most of his creations in that direction, marring them most seriously by piling-on canopies, pelmets, valances, and curtains, until the structures as a whole appeared to be so top-heavy that we should imagine the occupants must have experienced a feeling of great oppression, if not of im­pending collapse.

The mahogany pillars themselves were generally light and graceful in form and proportion, and were comparatively simple so far as enrichment was concerned ; but the massive superstructures went to the other extreme, being overwhelm­ing in appearance, and constituting perfectly ideal asylums for moth, dust, and other organisms.

The bedstead portrayed upon Plate I. partakes somewhat of the character indicated; a similar, though rather less elaborate, type is figured on Plate III. In the latter case the pillars are almost plain and without relief of any kind. The canopies and wooden heads, in both examples, I need hardly


Reference, in Text


Подпись: Page Pedestal. See 126 Tea caddy. ,, 126


Arm chair. See 112 Bookcase. ,, 122

Door tracery. ,, 124

point out at this stage of our study, remind us more than a little of the “ Louis-Quatorze " and “ Louis-Quinze ” at their worst. They call for but passing notice, as enough has already been written upon that aspect of the style.

In the third example, which will be found on Plate X., we have a “ Chippendale-Chinese" bedstead which is decidedly interesting, as models of its class are extremely rare. In this a combination of the Chinese pagoda top, lattice work, and applied frets appears: but they were not enough. The temptation to introduce the French element was too strong to be resisted, so the ever-ready coquillage crops up again in all manner of unexpected situations, forming a most curious melange, though not an uncommon one in the style under consideration.

There is yet another most prominent and unmistakable feature of true “ Chippendale ” which we must not fail specially to note, as it occurs frequently in both chairs and tables. 1 refer to the square leg, pierced, and also the leg composed of three, or four, slender turned columns, or pillars, set slightly apart, and bound together by fine mould­ings, at intervals more or less frequent according to the pro­portions of the leg. Examples of this class are presented on Plates V., VI., IX., and X.

So far we have analysed, as fully as space has permitted, and, indeed, as is essential to our purpose, those phases of “ Chippendale "—and they are the most important of all—in which the originator borrowed from the French, Chinese, and Gothic ; adapting freely, according to his own fancies, the ideas of others. Having arrived so far, we are rapidly nearing the end of this section of our subject; but another aspect still remains to be examined, and, although it may not prove to be by any means as interesting, from some points of view, as the rest, it must on no account be omitted.

Chippendale, like most people who depend upon the public favour for their livelihood, had, of course, to cater for

the requirements of the less-monied portion of the com­munity as well as for those of the wealthier classes, and when considering the demands of both, it is hard to decide which were the more exacting, and which the easier, to satisfy. In much, perhaps in most, of his work, considerations of price altogether prohibited him from indulging in those fantastic extravagances which his admiration for the French, and his flirtation with the Chinese, led him to commit in his produc­tions when cost was not a great object.

By way of concluding my review of his work, therefore, I shall deal briefly with what we may term, for the sake of con­venience, “ Inexpensive Chippendale"; and we shall see, when we examine it, that our “upholder” had amazingly little that was very fresh, or in any way striking, to offer his customers when he was forced by circumstances to fall back entirely upon his own originality. From the point of view of good taste, his least costly, and consequently plainest, furniture, strangely enough, must be regarded as by far his best. It is notably free from all extravagance and eccen­tricity, and is almost invariably characterised by excellence of proportion, and a refinement in such detail as there is, which are altogether charming and restful to the eye, and stand out in marked contrast with most of the creations already referred to on the preceding pages.

Some people may consider that in the foregoing paragraph, and perhaps in my remarks throughout this chapter, I have done this old master but scant justice. If such be the case, I am sorry, but I have endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to defend and justify the position I have taken up. Be that as it may ; in support of my contention as to his plainer fur­niture, I cannot do better than point to the clothes-press or wardrobe in the lower group on Plate I., the two chests on Plate 111., the simpler of the two tables on Plate

VI. , the bookcase on Plate VII., the two bookcases and seci^taire on Plate IX., the chest on Plate X., and the two



Fig. 15. See 124 ,, 16. ,, 124


bookcases and writing-table on Plate XI. From these it will be seen that in “ Chippendale " cabinet work of the more pre­tentious dimensions, such as wardrobes, bookcases, and the like, the “broken pediment” is frequently introduced; but I need hardly explain that Chippendale is not to be credited with the discovery of that feature, so that here again our master cannot lay claim to any degree of originality. But how vastly superior it is to anything really his own—the Pagoda-cum-“ Louis – Quinze ”-cum-Bouquet creations, for instance. This type of pediment, as everybody, of course, knows, was repeatedly em­ployed by the interior architects of the days of Queen Anne, who took it direct from the revivalists of the Palladian school, who themselves obtained it from the original Italian source; so, in truth, it is as much “ Chippendale ” as Fijian ! In calling to mind the frequency of its adoption by “ Queen – Anne" architects, we cannot but be struck by the comparative infrequency of its use in the furniture of the period during which they pursued their labours, and it is natural to look for the reason of this. Its absence is probably due to the fact that the days of massive “carcase work” had not yet arrived. This explanation, at the first glance, may convey little or nothing to the mind of the reader, but a moment or two’s consideration will make it clear. Except on fairly large struc­tures, such as those I have named, the “broken pediment" nearly always looks somewhat out of place; it is a feature of purely architectural origin, and first saw the light as a cul­minating point in stately, and more or less massive, buildings, the proportions and associations of which are instinctively brought back to our memory by these wooden suggestions of one of their leading characteristics. Thus it is that on tiny cabinets, for example, it looks incongruous.

Chippendale, however, fully understood where it should and should not be introduced, and properly appreciated its value as a decorative termination or superstructure. As a consequence, he took generous advantage of its aid, sometimes

enriching it with small dentil mouldings (tiny square or ob­long blocks of wood, arranged in succession a small distance apart from each other, underneath a square “ member ” of an ordinary moulding, and somewhat resembling a row of teeth—hence “ dentil ” moulding), and leading up to it by introducing a frieze of applied fret-work, as in the sec^taire on Plate IX. The centre of the pediment at the “break" was usually furnished with a broad moulding, or shelf, left plain for the reception of a bust or vase, either of which formed a capital finish. Occasionally it had some such lumpy and ugly excrescence as that on the lower bookcase on Plate IX.

Apart from this pediment, Chippendale’s work of the class under consideration was peculiarly free from carving or other enrichment of any kind; and what little he did introduce was invariably of the most restrained and pleasing character. Referring again, for a moment, to this designer’s cabinet work generally, a word may be said of the cupboard doors, both large and small. Where glass was introduced—and its em­ployment was by this time becoming more general—it was usually “ broken up ’’ by tracery such as that shown in one of the lower cabinets, Plate VI., in the bookcases, Plates VII., IX., and XI., and in Figs. 15 and 16, Plate VIII., drawn to a larger scale. As much of this tracery will be encountered in bookcases and similar pieces of a later period it will be well for the reader, in order to avoid confusion, to note parti­cularly that most examples designed by Chippendale were essentially angular in character, curves being very seldom and sparingly introduced. There are, however, a few notable exceptions, one of which is portrayed in Fig. 16, Plate VIII. When the doors were not panelled-in with glass, but were of wood throughout, the larger surfaces were often relieved by applied carving, as in the upper wardrobe, Plate I., the large press, Plate III., the two secr6taires, Plate V., and other pieces shown.


Reference in Text



Chairs. See 105, 112, 115, 245

Secretaire. ,, 122, 124

Подпись: Page Door tracery. See 124 Screen. ,, 126 Table. ,, 245 Bookcases. ,, 122, 124

Earlier in the chapter I have mentioned that Chippendale was among the first cabinet makers in this country to employ mahogany for the manufacture of furniture, and I do not think it necessary for me to occupy space here by repeating the oft-told tale of the introduction of that wood into Eng­land by Dr. Gibbon, in or about the year 1742, as it is to be found in almost any encyclopaedia. So often indeed has it been repeated, in one form or another, that many people have come to believe that no furniture was ever made in mahogany prior to that date ; such people are prepared to insist most emphatically that argument to the contrary reveals lamentable ignorance. With regard to that point perhaps I need only say that I myself have actually sat in old Dutch chairs, made in mahogany, of which ample documentary evidence exists to prove conclusively that they were used by Charles the Second during his enforced exile at the Hague. But to return to Chippendale.

At the period of which I am now writing the furnishing of the British home was becoming far more extensive and varied than in earlier times, and such necessary articles as bedsteads, chairs, tables, bookcases, drawers, cupboards, and presses of different kinds, were supplemented by other pieces which partook more of the nature of luxuries, and whose services at a pinch could be very well dispensed with without any serious inconvenience, though they certainly add to the comforts of life. All manner of dainty knick-knacks crept into the furnishing show-rooms—little wall-brackets and hang­ing cabinets for books and china ; small “ occasional ” tables, girandoles, decorative pedestals, “ Banner," “ Shield," and “ Horse " screens, tea caddies, and the like ; and last, but by no means least, the “ Grandfather’s Clock." The field open to the designer and maker of cabinet work was thus vastly extended ; as a natural consequence, the opportunities he enjoyed for the exercise and display of whatever taste and ingenuity in design and skill in craftsmanship he might

possess were far greater than those with which his pre­decessors had been forced to rest content. It is more than probable that Chippendale was responsible for the introduc­tion of some of these novelties—for they were novelties then —and it is only proper, therefore, that a few of his designs or them should be included among our typical studies. Two clock-cases of the “ Grandfather " type, and two smaller ones, for the table or mantelpiece, thoroughly characteristic as regards both form and detail, are shown on Plate II., together with an extravagant girandole on French lines, to which reference has previously been made. A neat and sensible little hanging bookcase or medicine cupboard appears on Plate

III., and another of a similar type on Plate IV.; u Pole” and “ Horse” screens on Plates IV. and IX.; a small wall-bracket and pedestals on Plates V., VII., and X.; two tea caddies on Plates VI. and VII., and other small pieces dotted about here and there on the remaining plates, may be taken as examples of the class of fancy furniture to which I refer. None of these requires lengthy description, as all are types in every particular of one or the other of the four distinct phases of “ Chippen­dale ” which have been exhaustively dealt with in the preceding pages.

It is one thing to examine articles of furniture individually and separately, and often quite another to see them grouped together in a room, with a proper decorative setting of wall hangings, carpet, window draperies, and other accessories, so as to form one harmonious and consistent whole. A com­pletely adequate conception of their true and full merit, not as individual pieces but as actual “ furnishings ”—that is to say, adjuncts to something else, integral parts of a complete scheme—is to be gained only by having these household gods grouped together in a room for our inspection. Bearing this in mind, in the consideration of each style I have made a special point of illustrating complete in­teriors, thoroughly representative in every way of the


Reference in Text

Page See 121 ,, 122 ,, 126


.. IT7 I Pedestal.




respective periods dealt with. To show, therefore, in some measure, how ”Chippendale" really appeared in the home in the days of its prime, the window corner of a dining room, or morning room, true to style in every particular, is portrayed on Plate VII. Here, in the table by the win­dow, we have a simple and dignified reading of the " Louis- Quatorze," together with a less faithful rendering of the same style in the somewhat unsafe-looking pedestal which supports the fern pot; the arm-chair is, of course, inspired by the " Louis-Quinze," and is a refined example ; while the pelmet of the window drapery partakes of the same character, as do the "small" chairs also, but in a lesser degree. The bookcase and table are " Chippendale " pure and simple, hardly touched at all by French influence, and are, I think, none the worse for that.

Before leaving the consideration of the style, I must mention one other point which remains to be noticed in connection with it, and upon which emphasis must be laid. The importance of not turning to another branch of our study without referring to this may be indicated by the brief relation of an incident which came within my experience not so very many years ago. I spent an evening at one of a series of lectures on the history of furniture, arranged by a highly respected educational body specially for the benefit of young workers in the London cabinet making industries, and the lecturer, during the course of his remarks, gravely in­formed the students that it was his intention to deal with "’Chippendale’ inlaid and painted furniture!" This lec­turer, be it noted, was a man of no mean ability in other branches of art, enjoying a coveted reputation and one fairly won. He was not, however, "great" on the subject in which he had been appointed to instruct the rising generation. Yet, I fancy some one may enquire : " But why do you take excep­tion to his statement which you have quoted ? " I take excep­tion simply because Chippendale did not cultivate cither inlay or

pamting in the enrichment of his productions, and in cases where it is found some other description must be sought.

It is more than a little curious that the opportunities for the attainment of richness of effect and variety of colour afforded by the decorative media mentioned should not have appealed to, and been freely used by, this designer, but it is absolutely certain that he cared for neither. Indeed, he left them severely alone. Nor is it really difficult to account for this attitude when we remember that Chippendale was, in the first place, trained as a carver. His father was a carver of picture frames, and it was natural, perhaps, that the son should remain a carver at heart to the very end. He was more than satisfied with the effects to be obtained by the skilled and vigorous plying of the chisel and gouge, though for economy’s sake, it is true, he did call the fret to his aid. The lighter, more graceful—some might say more effemi­nate— results to be secured by the employment of the marquetry cutter’s saw, and the palette and brush, he left to others to use as they might feel disposed. What excellent use they did make of them will be fully demonstrated in succeeding chapters.

It must be clearly and unmistakably understood, then, that whenever painted (that is to say, decorated with painted enrichment) or inlaid furniture is described as “ Chippen­dale,” no matter where or by whom, it is a million chances to one that the description is incorrect.

In conclusion, so far as “ Chippendale” is concerned, to those who regard old furniture from the commercial as well as from the artistic point of view, the mention of a few prices paid for genuine old examples of the style during recent years may be of interest; though it is impossible to set up any fixed standard of market value.

At a country sale (conducted by Messrs. Robinson and Fisher, of London) at Bradfield Hall, near Reading, of the property of the Connop family, the following bids (as reported


Reference in Text



Chairs. See 115

Wall bookshelves. ,, 117


Page See 123




Bookcases. Writing tables. Door tracery.





in the Times) were made and accepted :—Two remarkably fine old “Chippendale” state elbow chairs, with open-work backs and exquisitely carved lions’ heads terminating the arms, “cabriole legs,” with lions’ heads on the “knees,” and a covering of fine old English silk needlework, were bought for 780 guineas by a dealer, who was said to have re-sold them shortly afterwards for 1000 guineas—a good day’s work! A large “Chippendale” state easy chair, elaborately carved, and bearing the arms of the Barrington family, the seat, back, and elbows covered in old tapestry, realised 205 guineas. A similar chair, gilt, and upholstered in red velvet, was sold for 105 guineas. A set of six chairs, with mahogany frames, and finely carved open-work backs, decorated with scrolls and leaves, realised 93 guineas. At another sale, held at their own rooms, the same firm of auctioneers sold another set of six carved mahogany “ Chippendale ” chairs, with pierced backs and carved “cabriole legs,” for .£108. (The same set cost the owner by whose instructions they were “put-up,” the magnificent sum of.£6.)

Some very interesting and genuine old “Chippendale” furniture came to the hammer at the sale of the contents of Longstowe Hall, Cambridge, held under the conduct of Messrs. Grain, Moyes, & Wishey, of Cambridge ; several arm-chairs realised, even in so remote a place, from .£10 to 10 guineas a piece; and a mahogany bookcase, five feet nine inches long, with projecting centre, brought.£30, by no means a high price. At the Egmont Sale, in London, of the furni­ture removed from Cowdray, Midhurst, Sussex, one set of three “Chippendale” chairs, covered in damask, sold for 23 guineas; another, consisting of six “small” chairs, the seats covered in figured leather, and two arm-chairs to match, together realised a total of just over.£53.

At “Christie’s,” some time ago, two exceptionally fine “Chippendale” cabinets, seven feet high by four feet long, with carved mouldings and legs, and open gallery above,

• I

each having three glazed doors, were sold for 230 guineas, while, at the same sale, twelve very ordinary torch£res, fifty- five inches high, of mahogany and satinwood, in the form of tripod altars, and carved with festoons of drapery, acanthus foliage, and similar detail, brought 44 guineas. Finally, the sale of some of the property of the late Mr. John Hargreaves, of Maiden Erleigh, near Reading (held by Messrs. Walton and Lee, of London) comprised a quantity of choice “ Chip­pendale," including a six feet carved mahogany table, with marble top (faulty), which sold for £28, and a mahogany cabinet, four feet wide, with glazed front and sides, and quaintly designed open top for china, which sold for £128. At the same sale, one of the greatest bargains of late years was secured in a beautifully carved “Chippendale” suite from the ball-room, upholstered in tapestry of a Persian pattern, which comprised six “ small" chairs, a pair of arm­chairs, and a settee, five feet six inches long, and was knocked down for £50. Four comparatively commonplace carved mahogany chairs fetched £y.

It will be remarked from the foregoing that prices vary vastly according to the locality in which sales are held, the class of buyers present, and more particularly the absence or presence of sharp dealers. At many a country auction, attended only by villagers, I have seen fine old pieces “go" for a few shillings, which, had they been sent to “Christie’s,” or had one or two London dealers been present, would have been sold at very high prices.

To pass from the study of “ Chippendale ” to that of the work of Heppehvhite, or, to speak more precisely, of Messrs. A. Heppehvhite & Co., is to be brought face to face with one of the greatest and most remarkable changes which ever occurred in the development of British furniture, and that occurred too in a comparatively brief space of time.

While the former style predominated, notwithstanding that it was in every respect much lighter, and perhaps on the whole more graceful, than its predecessors of the seven­teenth century—except, of course, the “ Queen-Anne”—the English cabinet maker was unable to shake himself free from the bondage of that sturdy heaviness—typical, some would have it, of our national temperament—by which his efforts had for so long been constricted. In those days the furnish­ing of the home seems to have been regarded as a most serious, if not solemn, undertaking, typifying the wealth and dignity of the household, and anything approaching flippancy was rigidly excluded from it.

One of the most gifted of modern humorists, and one whose death was indeed an event to be lamented—I refer to the genial Mr. Corney Grain—in his advice to “ those about to furnish," pointed out that:—

“ Of course, you must buy old ‘ Chippendale,’

. So spindle-shanked, and slender, and frail,

That every time you sit down in a chair Your legs go wandering up in the air,”

but that prince of kindly satirists laboured under a mis­apprehension. Applied to some of the work of Heppehvhite and Sheraton those words would be more applicable. As

my readers are by this time fully aware, when applied to " Chippendale’’ they miss their mark altogether.

There can, of course, be but little doubt that when filled with a gay throng habited in the dainty and multi-coloured, sometimes even gorgeous, dresses of the period, the old "Chippendale" interiors must have appeared brilliant indeed. The dark glowing tones of the choice Spanish mahogany would set off to perfection, by force of contrast, the rare and costly "confections ” of the day ; but it was just that contrast which was requisite to render the schemes complete. With the dresses taken away, and the woodwork left absolutely dependent upon its own intrinsic merits, those schemes were painfully wanting both in colour-value and variety of effect. That they were not altogether devoid of attractiveness—nay, that they even possessed a peculiar charm of their own—is, I need hardly say, altogether indisputable ; but it was a charm which, to borrow a simile from music, was akin rather to the solemn fascination of one of Beethoven’s more majestic creations than to that of the rippling lilt of Mozart or Bishop.

In the wake of that progress in the cultivation of the refinements of life which characterised the eighteenth century, and more particularly the latter part of it, a change rapidly came over the furnishing and adornment of the interior of the homes of our forefathers. So extensive was this change, indeed, that ere long it seemed almost as if some necromancer had removed a spell from their portals, and changed sadness into rejoicing! It was as if the spirit of merriment had taken the place of that of magnificence, and the reign of brightness and dainty refinement had bid dull care begone, and we must now consider the work of some of the men who were mainly instrumental in bringing this change about.

The names of Chippendale, Heppelwhite, and Sheraton, stand out so prominently from among those of their con­temporaries in the history of the cabinet making and designing of the period during which they worked that we have become

accustomed to associate them with one another, and regard them almost as an inseparable triad of old masters, working together with but one idea, or set of ideas, and in perfect harmony. As has already been noted in the preceding chapter, some writers even go so far as to throw the mantle of the first over the other two, as well as over a great many lesser lights, a proceeding to which I am quite sure Chippendale himself, vain as he was, would never have consented. Against such a course I have already entered a strong, if not indignant, protest; deeming it necessary owing to the fact that the practice is steadily growing, under the encouragement and through the example of many who ought to know better but do not. Everything possible, therefore, should be done towards the correction of this error, and to prevent its perpetuation.

The life-work of each of the three designers named must be studied and judged upon its own merits, and not confused with those of others ; nor is there really the least reason why this should not be done, for we shall find each fully capable of standing alone. Adopting this principle, and with the attainment of a specific object in view, I have planned the three chapters devoted to the work of these designers in such a way that they shall be exhaustively comparative as well as analytical, in order to demonstrate conclusively, once and for all, that to class the whole of our late eighteenth – century furniture under the all-embracing description “ Chip­pendale " is as absurd and unjust as it is inaccurate.

Between the designs of Thomas Chippendale, then, and those of Heppelwhite a vast difference is to be noted; a difference so vast, indeed, that for one possessing even but a most elementary knowledge of the principal characteristics of the two styles to confuse them in any way is practically out of the question; that such a thing should ever be done is only to be accounted for in one way.

We have seen, in my last chapter, how, during the course of his operations, Chippendale borrowed from, and not infre-

quently perpetrated most outrageous caricatures of, the“Louis – Quatorze" and “ Louis-Quinze ” ; and we shall presently discover the extent to which Sheraton—the last, but by no means the least, of the great three—followed in his footsteps, that is to say so far as appropriating French ideas was concerned, though he selected different ones and made far better and more intelligent use of them than did Chippendale.

It is, however, the style which came between the two that now demands our attention, and it is not in any respect one which can be dismissed with brief comment. On the contrary, it is entitled to a respect equal to, if not greater than, that accorded to “ Chippendale ” itself, though it is generally set aside by most writers with but scant courtesy.

To retrace our steps momentarily a number of years; the reader may be reminded that comparative lightness and grace commenced to make themselves felt in the designs of our household gods with the advent of the “ Queen-Anne," and appeared in a still greater measure when Chippendale seriously turned his attention to their reformation ; but it was lightness only when judged in comparison with the propor­tions of most of the furniture of the old Elizabethan and Stuart times.

It is in “ Heppehvhite ” really that we find the first actual attainment of that true, and altogether exceptional, delicacy and refinement which constituted the peculiar charm of the adornments of the home designed and produced in this country during the late Georgeian period, and in the earlier years of the last century.

It will doubtless be remembered that Chippendale’s epoch­making book, “ The Gentleman’s and Cabinet Maker’s Director,” appeared in the year 1754, when George the Second was still on the throne of England. “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide, or Repository of Designs for every Article of House­hold Furniture in the Newest and most Approved Taste,” by Messrs. A. Heppelwhite & Co., did not see the light until

thirty-five years later, when George the Third had reigned nearly thirty years, and when that awful storm was brewing in France which burst with such terrific violence only four years later.

When the brevity of this lapse of time is borne in mind, we cannot but experience a feeling of astonishment at the extent of the difference which distinguishes the respective designs illus­trated in the two works named. The latter firm, it is true, to a certain degree, followed the lead of their great forerunner in respect of borrowing from across the Channel (I have noted that Sheraton did the same); but, on the one hand, they seldom descended to mere slavish copying; while, on the other, they endowed their creations with a far greater measure of originality than did any of their contemporaries, not excepting even the rarely gifted Sheraton himself.

In their preface to “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide,” Messrs. Heppelwhite & Co. proffer the following “apology” for the publication of their ideas: “To unite elegance and utility, and blend the useful with the agreeable, has ever been considered a difficult, but an honourable, task. How far we have succeeded in the following work it becomes us not to say, but rather to leave it, with all due deference, to the determination of the public at large.”

The task attempted was, truly, in no respect an easy one to accomplish successfully, but they went bravely and con­scientiously to work, and with rare spirit and no small spice of genius to aid them in their endeavours. In the end, the verdict of the “public at large” was an extremely favourable one, and has continually been verified and con­firmed during the course of nearly a century-and-a-half; nor could it by any possibility have been otherwise.

The grandiloquent introductions with which nearly all these old-fashioned design books are prefaced furnish most amusing reading nowadays; for it appears to have been the recognised custom, from the observance of which few


ever dreamed of departing, for each new authority, or soi-disant authority, to “run-down," with all his might, the efforts of his predecessors and contemporaries, and, so far as lay within his power, cover them with ridicule, no matter how successful they may have proved nor how great their popularity.

In the introduction of the particular work with which we are at present occupied, for instance, we find it gravely set forth that: “The mutability of all things, but more especially of fashions, has rendered the labours of our pre­decessors in this line of little use ; nay, at this day, they can only tend to mislead those foreigners who seek a know­ledge of English taste in the various articles of household furniture." That was sweeping enough, indeed. Poor old Chippendale! Still, he has been avenged, and time has proved the futility of that wholesale condemnation couched in so superior a tone.

We must judge these men by their works and not their words ; and we must recognise to the full that Messrs. Heppelwhite & Co. undoubtedly did succeed in a remark­able degree in blending “ elegance and utility." How they contrived to accomplish that task will become apparent upon a careful examination of the plates accompanying these notes, in conjunction with such explanatory remarks as I may be able to offer. And it may be as well here to emphasise the fact that the examples reproduced are, in every instance, absolutely authentic, having been taken direct from “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide” itself; from which source they have been selected with the most scrupulous care, in order that they may convey an absolutely complete idea of the style which they represent.

At the outset I may say that, though Messrs. Heppel­white worked during the earlier years of their career almost contemporaneously with Chippendale, whose days were then rapidly drawing to a close, the style or styles founded by

the old “upholder" of Saint Martin’s Lane seem to have possessed little or no charm in their eyes ; they appropriated but very slightly from them—a really remarkable fact, con­sidering all things. As I have before insisted, it is a very simple matter, therefore, to distinguish between the respective styles. While, as we have seen, the earlier designer drew so largely for inspiration from the “ Louis-Quatorze " and the “ Louis-Quinze ” (as Sheraton did from the “ Louis-Seize ’’), Heppehvhite struck upon the “ happy medium" ; and, though indebted in some degree to all those modes for ideas, he sedulously refrained from following too closely upon the exact lines of any one of them.

We have accepted it as a rule that, so far as the identi­fication of style is concerned, the chairs of the eighteenth century are imbued with stronger and, therefore, more dis­tinctive characteristics than other articles of household furni­ture of that period, consequently upon them we are able to utter a definite pronouncement with the greatest ease, and, at the same time, with the greatest degree of certainty.

To the chairs, then, we shall turn first. When we have to deal with cabinet work, on the other hand, we shall find that the variations are most numerous, and far more subtle, and consequently more difficult to distinguish, depending as they do, for the most part, on slight differences in more or less minute ornamental detail rather than on form. How­ever, that phase of our subject we shall discuss in its place.

The designs of Heppehvhite, it must be admitted, resem­bled those of Chippendale, and differed from those of Sheraton, insomuch that, in his chairs, or, to speak with greater exacti­tude, in his chair-backs, he almost invariably avoided the straight line entirely, persistently excluding it from his schemes. But, though he did this, he never, under any cir­cumstances, went the lengths to which his predecessor was led by his ever-present desire to be constantly producing “ something fresh," and, moreover, “something French." It

must not be inferred from this that Heppehvhite was one whit behind Chippendale in his desire to attain novelty ; the very reverse was the case : but he seldom sacrificed good taste to secure it. Though he favoured the curvilinear so strongly, this designer, as will presently be seen, always kept his fancy well within legitimate bounds, and very rarely indulged in what might reasonably be termed extravagance. In all his work he gives evidence of the possession, in a high degree, of a love of daintiness and refinement, combined with a strict regard for constructional conditions ; and I am very greatly inclined to the opinion that, in his eyes, such creations as the “ Ribbon-Back," for example, ranked as posi­tive abominations, and much of the quasi-Chinese cabinet work as not very much better.

It may be accepted as another rule, and one to which there are very few exceptions, that really pure and truly characteristic “ Heppelwhite" chairs always have the “shield- shape" back, numerous types of which are shown on Plates I. and II. In studying these examples it must be specially noted *,that the curve at the top of the back is invariably unbroken ; that is to say, it forms one graceful, sinuous sweep from one extremity to the other. I desire most particularly to emphasise this characteristic of the “Heppelwhite” back, because Sheraton occasionally adopted a form similar to the “shield shape," but, so far as I have been able to discover, he always interrupted, or “broke "—as it is technically termed —the top curve by a straight line, or rectangular panel, in the centre. Reference to Figs. 6 and 15, Plate II., in the following chapter will make this essential difference perfectly clear. Furthermore, in the two styles the junction of the back legs with the lower part of the sides of the shield differs in the manner indicated by the annexed sketch. This, it is true, is a minor detail, but in questions of identification minor details often go for much, and give, so to speak, the casting vote. It will be observed that Heppelwhite, more often than not

“finishes off” the join by introducing a tiny scroll-head, sometimes with a rosette carved upon it, and sometimes quite plain ; but this feature is never to be found in genuine “ Sheraton.”

It is not a little difficult to distinguish between many of the productions of these two designers, for the simple reason


“ Ileppelwhite ” support of “ Shield-Back”

that, in the first place, they both went to the same sources for inspiration, and, in the second, freely appropriated one another’s ideas whenever they felt so disposed, or occasion demanded. On that account, if on no other, the minor dis­tinctive features should be kept constantly in view, as a thorough acquaintance with them clears from the connois-

seur’s and collector’s path many obstacles that would other­wise render the formation of a correct judgment extremely difficult.

There is also more freedom, a greater “flow," if I may so describe it, and consequently more grace, about the chair backs as a whole of Heppelwhite than in those of Sheraton, whose determined, and almost unrelenting, cultiva­tion of the straight line in preference to the curvilinear may perhaps reasonably be ascribed to the presence, in his mind, of a desire to escape, so far as it was avoidable, the charge of copying the lines originated by his popular contemporary.

Eight “ shield-shape ” chair backs, and one oval in form, are illustrated on Plate II., giving as complete an idea of Heppelwhite’s preferences in this direction as can possibly be conveyed. To illustrate my assertion that these competitors for public favour—and, what was more important, patronage —did not by any means object occasionally to copy from one another’s works, Figs. 8, 10, and n on the same plate, and Fig. 2 on the preceding one, are given. These examples were included in Heppelwhite’s book, though they are not at all in his style. They were most probably included in order to indicate that the firm responsible for the publication of the work were quite able to satisfy the public demand for types created by Sheraton, as well as those on their own lines ; for notwithstanding the fact that they are taken direct from “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide,” they are in all respects foreign to the style whose principles are enunciated in its pages. In regard to such cases as this, perhaps it would be better to coin some such description as “ Heppelwhite-cum – Sheraton," though it would be fairer and far more correct to describe them as “ Sheraton ” pure and simple, for it is evident that they partake far more of the latter style than of the former.

The overwhelming majority of “Heppelwhite" backs are open ; that is to say, composed solely of wood, shaped and

jointed, or cut-through ; for upholstery in them does not seem to have commended itself to this designer to any very great extent, as he introduced it but very rarely. When he did make use of this comfortable addition, it was usually on the lines indicated by Fig. 9, Plate II. In order to convey a still more adequate conception of the true characteristics of the “ Heppehvhite" chair, various forms of arms which constantly recur are given in Figs. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 on the same plate. The essential difference between these and the typical “Sheraton" arm can be discovered at once by comparing these forms with those illustrated on Plates I.,

II., and III. in my chapter on “ Sheraton.” The arms proper in the latter style are nearly always shaped in a graceful curve, or series of curves, “springing” from the back; but they are supported in front, where they terminate, by upright, turned pillars, which are really continuations of the front legs, the design of which is carried up into them.

The “ Heppelwhite " arm, though apparently very similar to the “ Sheraton " to the casual observer, is, in reality, alto­gether different. It resembles the “Sheraton” insomuch that it usually comes down from the back in a single curve, more or less pronounced ; but, instead of being supported in front by the turned “ upright,” another curve, nearly always concave, but sometimes serpentine, carries it down to the top of the front legs, where they join the seat-frame. That this rule is not absolutely invariable will be seen by reference to Fig. 15, Plate II., and Fig. 9, Plate III. in “Sheraton,” but those two examples may be regarded as exceptions. The shaping of the “ Heppelwhite ” arm is sometimes extremely subtle and, I think, charming, as, for instance, in Figs. 17 and 18, Plate II. Small upholstered pads were frequently intro­duced in both styles.

“Heppelwhite" chair legs are, in most cases, square; and, in chairs of the less expensive class, perfectly plain, or with just a single “reed” at the corners. In chairs of the better

and more costly description, however, intended for the draw­ing-room, boudoir, and apartments of importance, we find such legs as those portrayed in Figs. 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, and 28, Plate II. The turned legs, Figs. 25 and 27, furnish still further evidence that this designer was not averse to following on “ Sheraton ” lines ; indeed the second of the two is, to all intents and purposes, pure “ Louis-Seize,” such as delighted the heart of Sheraton. Legs of the type shown in Figs. 20 and 21—that is to say, curving gracefully outwards at the tapered toe—are not often to be met with at the period of which I am writing. This is rather surprising, for these are without question extremely graceful, and greatly enhance the beauty of the chairs in which they are found. Lastly, so far as “ Heppelwhite " legs are concerned, the “cabriole" was sometimes introduced by this designer, but only in those patterns the design of which was avowedly after French models, and they are not at all common in this style.

Regarding the general dimensions of these chairs, the measurements specified by the designer himself are as follows : “Width in front, 20 inches ; depth of seat (from back to front), 17 inches; height of seat-frame, 17 inches ; total height about 3 feet i inch." They are, with very few exceptions, made in mahogany, either carved, painted, or inlaid ; with seats and other upholstered parts covered in horsehair, plain, striped, chequered, or in other patterns ; or with cane “ bottoms," on which were placed loose cushions, the “ cases ” of which were covered with the same fabrics as those employed for the curtains of the room in which the chairs were destined to find a place. Sometimes red or blue morocco was employed for the covering, most frequently where both back and seat were upholstered ; medallions of printed, or painted, silk were inserted not infrequently into the back. When the backs and seats were of leather they were often tied down by means of tassels of silk or thread.

The examples illustrated on Plate III. are, almost without

exception, designed for the furnishing of the drawing-room, and exemplify, as completely as we could desire, the extreme delicacy and daintiness of “ Heppelwhite." They stand out in marked contrast to the comparative heaviness—by “ heavi­ness" I do not necessarily mean clumsiness—which, as we have seen, characterised the majority of Chippendale’s pro­ductions. On this plate we have a selection of tables of different kinds, and for various purposes—for the enjoyment of light refreshment, writing, card-playing, etc.,—which indicate how that particular piece of furniture, together with many an­other, was undergoing numerous transformations at the hands of the late eighteenth-century designer and cabinet maker. Fig. 2 is an example of the “ Heppelwhite " card-table of the simpler type; Fig. 3 is one of a series of inlaid or painted “Pembroke” tables, which, says Heppelwhite, “are the most useful of this species of furniture ;" Fig. 4 is another “ Pembroke," with a rectangular, instead of a circular, top; and Figs. 6, 8, and 10 are pier-tables, which, remarks the designer, “are become an article of much fashion; and not being applied to such general use as other tables, admit, with great propriety, of much elegance and ornament. . . . The height. . . varies from the general rule "—28 inches—“ as they are now universally made to fit the pier, and rise level with, or above the dado of the room, nearly touching the orna­ments of the glass."

These, together with the tops for tables and sideboards shown in Figs. 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20, will convey some impression as to how far Heppelwhite was prepared to indulge in carved, painted, japanned, and inlaid enrich­ment, and will give a good idea of the rare skill with which he originated schemes of decoration for rendering by those media. As a matter of fact, in addition to the services of the most able carvers and marquetry cutters, the aid of painters of the highest repute, notably Angelica Kauffmann, Cipriani, and Pergolesi, was called in at this period to embellish,

by means of the brush, furniture designed for the homes of the wealthier class of patrons; but with their labours in this direction I shall deal in another chapter.

The “ pole ” fire-screen, now but rarely seen, was just becoming popular at this period, and two examples of Heppelwhite’s treatment of it are given in Figs, i and 5, Plate III. Screens of this type, says this designer, "may be ornamented variously with maps, Chinese figures, needle­work, etc.," and, with regard to their construction, he con­tinues : “The screen is suspended on the pole by means of a spring in the eye through which the pole goes." (We shall see in the next chapter how Sheraton, with his love for mechanics, improved upon this arrangement; as he did upon many of a similar nature.) “The feet of the screen are loaded with lead to secure immunity from sudden upsets."

The wood employed in their manufacture was often mahogany, but generally they were of some softer and less expensive wood, japanned. The “horse" screen, of the type shown in Fig. 11, was also a common accompani­ment of the cosy fireside; the framework was invariably of mahogany, the panels being filled with rich silk, needlework, and the like. As to the working of the “horse" screen, the centre part slid in grooves made in the inner sides of the supporting uprights, being suspended by weights attached to it by a line which passed over a pulley in the top of the frame. Figs. 7 and 9 are candle-stands, which, according to this authority, “are very useful in large suites of apart­ments, as the light may be placed in any part at pleasure— in drawing-rooms, in halls ; and on larger staircases. . . ." Their place, I need hardly point out, has now been taken by the metal, telescopic, standard floor lamp, with its tor­tuosities, spirals, leafage, and rosettes in wrought iron, brass, and copper. The modern article, it must be admitted, serves the purposes for which it is intended satisfactorily enough, and is not infrequently an attractive demonstration


Reference ix Text



Fig. i. See 138 .. 2. ,, 140

■■ 3- 138



Fig. 4.

,, 5. ,, 138, 261

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of the metal-workers’ skill; but, at the best, it is not, in my opinion, so truly decorative nor “home-like" as its wooden ancestor of Heppelwhite’s days. But that is a matter of taste, so I need say no more upon the subject. I may, however, remind the reader that it is not uncommon nowadays to find the pillars of old “ four-posters " cut-down to serve the purpose at present in view, and admirably they serve it.

Typical tea caddies, inlaid and painted, are represented in Figs. 14 and 15, and two urn stands in Figs. 12 and 13. Each of the two last has in the top a small slide running in a groove to receive it, and made to draw out in order to furnish a convenient and secure resting-place for the teapot, and, if occasion requires, one or two cups.

Many smaller articles of furniture which were treasured in most English homes in days gone by have disappeared one by one in the course of years, either because the con­ditions of our daily life have changed and rendered their presence unnecessary, or because they have been supplanted by more modern, and presumably superior, innovations. The disappearance of some is much to be regretted, and none more than that of the old wooden tea caddy of our grandmothers’ days. What a pity we no longer have that with us: but the call for it has gone. The all-essential ingredient of “ the cup that cheers,” far from being regarded as a luxury, as it was not so very many years ago, is nowadays looked upon by poor and rich alike almost in the light of an actual necessary of life. Those who cannot afford a good “leaf” will expend a considerable percentage of their modest incomes on “sweepings” rather than be deprived altogether of their cup of tea. The younger generation, which has always been accustomed to this state of things, knows little of the jealous care with which every leaf and grain of the precious “ Pekoe ” or “ Soochong ” was guarded a century ago by the careful housewife, who would have shuddered


at the bare idea of any particle being relegated to the care of anyone but herself or the most trusted lieutenant. To keep the tea in the kitchen would have been regarded as a sacrilege, and such an idea was never entertained. On the contrary, it was accorded a place of honour, under lock and key be it noted, in the dining-room, its resting-place generally being the chief position on the top of the side­board, an article with regard to which I shall have some­thing to say presently.

As we are all aware, the Dutch did not initiate us into the mysteries of tea-making and drinking until the year 1660, and it was not until fully thirty years later that the fragrant beverage became in any way common. For a long period, indeed, its enjoyment was restricted to the few by reason of expense ; and even in the days of Heppehvhite it was a costly article. Under these circumstances it was essential to provide a proper receptacle, a worthy “ setting,” so to speak, for this treasure; hence arose the gracefully shaped and tastefully decorated tea caddy of mahogany and satinwood, painted, and inlaid with all manner of rare veneers.

Considerable attention was devoted to their design. The earlier caddies were often of soft wood, lacquered in black and gold, and not infrequently covered with the most elaborate diapers and "powdering” ; but those with which we are now’ concerned were, as I have indicated, generally made either of mahogany, inlaid with satinwood or canary-wood and other coloured marquetry, or of satinwood itself, delicately painted or inlaid, after the manner indicated by the illustrations to which I have referred. In addition to serving faithfully a most im­portant utilitarian purpose, they were, in themselves, oftentimes actually things of beauty; and, in conjunction with the knife – cases by which they were usually “ supported ” on either side, went far to enhance the general effect of the old sideboards whereon they were placed, and of which they seemed to constitute an essential feature. But they have gone, I suppose



never to return, for has not a less expensive substitute for them been found? We now have the cheap, enamelled, tin receptacles, which, no one can deny, serve their purpose sufficiently well; but it is certain that they will never give pleasure to the eye. All, therefore, who are so fortunate as to possess caddies of the good old-fashioned sort should treasure them carefully. They are becoming more difficult to secure every day, and those who desire to include fine examples in their collections will do well to “ snap at ” any that may come their way—provided, of course, that they are worth having.

Before leaving the consideration of this Plate (III.), I may point out that the very fact of the appearance of so many pieces of what may be described as fancy furniture in a single design book of the period in question is sufficient evidence that the reign of elegance had seriously commenced, and that utility, though by no means forgotten, was no longer regarded as the only and all-important quality to be secured. The demands of the graces of life were increasing.

We will turn now to the consideration of more pretentious productions, technically known to the cabinet maker as “ car­case work." Plate IV. is devoted to a variety of appointments for the library and study, apartments which, whether they were seriously used for their proper purposes or not, were made much of in those days when it was fashionable to ape a knowledge of literature, and when the slightest pretensions to its cultivation were often sufficient to insure an entree into the most exclusive social circles; provided, of course, that they were put forward with sufficient assurance. The penning of billets-doux, sonnets, and love-sick verses, of every length and metre, with fulsome adulation of “ my lady’s eyes," or wails of hopeless despair at her unrelenting coldness, were the order of the day ; and the reputation of a man who aspired to write an epic poem on the one hand, or a play on the other, was assured, even though it may never have been destined to see the light. Simply to have your name on the list of subscribers

for any projected magnum opus was to attain notoriety. Can we then be surprised if every home that boasted a room to spare devoted it presumably to the pursuit of literary studies?

So far as it lay within their power the cabinet makers, of course, were ready and willing to encourage and foster the existence of this state of things ; for it suited them admirably. In order to do so, and help at the same time to fill their order books, they devised all manner of articles designed to enhance the convenience and comfort of reading and writing, and for the reception of books and the storage of papers. Many of these were the direct ancestors of some of the most indispens­able furnishing adjuncts of the well-appointed library and study of to-day.

The articles represented in Figs. 1, 3, and 4, Plate IV., variously termed “ secretary bookcases," “ bureau bookcases," “escritoires," and “ secretaires," represent a type the manu­facture of which was extensively cultivated. Similar ones were, as we have seen, well known at a much earlier date, and their lasting popularity is not one whit to be wondered at, for now, as then, they are a veritable “boon and blessing" to the literarily inclined, who desire to have their necessary books of reference and favourite authors handy, and their papers safe from the terrors of “tidying" operations, and the soul­stirring, as well as dust-stirring, ravages wrought by the ubiquitous duster.

Secrdtaires almost precisely similar in character to those under consideration are still manufactured in very large numbers, but they have found a remarkably strong rival in the modern American “ roll-top" desk; an article which, during the past fifteen or twenty years, has been imported into this country by tens of thousands. Against this importa­tion, regarded strictly from the utilitarian point of view, I have not a single word to say. The “ roll-top " desk, indeed, pro­vided it be by one of the reputable manufacturers, is in every respect an ideal one for the busy man who can dispense


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Figs. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. See 143, 246 12. 13, 14, 15. 145

with art in commercial affairs ; but, regarded from the purely artistic point of view, it is, to put it mildly, unattractive in every sense of the word. Though tolerated, nay, even heartily welcome in the office, where we do not usually expect to find beauty—though why we should not I am unable to say— its presence in any well-furnished library, study, or “den" jars very considerably upon the sensibilities, and makes us long sincerely for the substitution of some such “secretary bookcase " as those which these cabinet makers of the old times revelled in designing.

Figure 5 is a bookcase, or “ library-case ” as they were styled in those days. Like nearly all other cabinet work of this period, these were made in mahogany, but a variation was occasion­ally introduced in the tracery of the doors. This was usually of the same wood as that of the main body, or “carcase," of the article, though occasionally, as in Fig. 5, it was carried out in metal—preferably brass—“ which,” says Heppelwhite, “ painted of a light colour, or gilt, will produce a light, pleasing effect.” In “ library-cases ” of this precise type, it appears, at a first glance, as though no accommodation for writing was to be looked for in the scheme ; and any one might easily, and quite naturally, put them down as bookcases pure and simple. But on pulling out the centre drawer, or “ secretary – drawer ” as it was termed, ample writing surface, pigeon-holes, ink-wells, small drawers, and all manner of other con­veniences were revealed ; while beneath were shelves and larger drawers of more than average dimensions for port­folios, papers, books, etc.

Referring specially to the enrichment of glazed doors by the introduction of wood, or metal, tracery, a plan greatly favoured by our late eighteenth-century cabinet makers, Heppelwhite points out: “The patterns may be greatly varied." He illustrates the truth of this contention by presenting a large number of designs for them, a selection of the most typical of which is shown at the bottom of the plate at present

under discussion. But how is the “ Heppelwhite ” tracery to be distinguished from others? We shall find that even a careful comparison of these with those that came from the pencil of Sheraton, many of which are illustrated in the fol – owing chapter, will leave the reader in a position of no small difficulty when he has to distinguish between the two styles ; for the details in both are puzzlingly similar—indeed, not infrequently precisely the same.

Subtle differences, however, in their disposition or arrange­ment will become apparent if we place side-by-side those belonging to each style respectively, and submit them to a careful and thoroughly comparative examination. To give a broad and general definition, the designs of Heppehvhite’s traceries were more angular in character, and consequently less graceful, than those of Sheraton. That this should be the case, is most remarkable, for, as I have already stated, the reverse was the rule in Heppelwhite’s chair-backs, and the recollection of that fact is calculated to mislead many when judging his works in which these traceries play a part. But some measure of inconsistency is to be discovered in the work of every genius, and the furniture designer is not exempt from that failing, if indeed a failing it be.

The remaining illustration on Plate IV. (Fig. 2) shows the end of a library, or study, table, on which no particular comment is needed save that we may remark its sturdy and sensible proportions, which were obviously designed for use more than for ornament. Writing-tables of this type were popular from the very first, and their manufacture has never been seriously interrupted since their introduction almost a century-and-a-half ago.

We may now proceed to discover what were Heppel­white’s ideas with respect to the furnishing of the bedroom, and in commencing to deal with these I may say, without further preamble, that they were characterised by far greater simplicity in every way than those which he applied to other







rooms of the house. It is well, moreover, that the reader should fully understand that between the fitting-out of the sleeping apartments of a hundred years or more ago, and of those of to-day, there is a vast difference. The complete bedroom suite, as we have become accustomed to it, with separate and distinct toilet-table, washstand, wardrobe, shaving glass, towel-rail, chairs, etc., designed to match one another in every particular, is comparatively a modern in­novation, and one altogether unknown in the days of which I am writing. It is quite useless, therefore, to look for it in any of the many design books of that period. Yet it must not be imagined for one moment that this particular chamber was neglected. That certainly was not the case, notwith­standing that its furnishing was, perhaps, somewhat more fragmentary, if I may so describe it, than at the present day. The chief article of importance in the bedroom, next to the bed itself, was the wardrobe, which, in the words of this designer, “ is of considerable consequence, as the con­veniences experienced in their use make them a necessary piece of furniture." The arrangement of the upper half, or part, of those in common use during the greater portion of the eighteenth century was very different from that with which we are familiar, as they were all invariably fitted with sliding – shelves, or perhaps a better idea will be conveyed if I describe them as very shallow drawers, open at the front, as portrayed in Fig. 5, Plate V. The u hanging cupboard " of our own times appears to have been practically unknown then ; consequently, clothes of every description stored within their recesses had to be folded up, and laid flat, instead of being suspended as they now are. Whether the row of hooks or the drawer is the more desirable for the preserva­tion of articles of wearing apparel is, perhaps, a question for our women-folk to decide, as they form the section of the community chiefly interested. If asked for my opinion on the subject, I should feel very greatly disposed to give my

vote in favour of the older arrangement. Certain it is that protracted suspension from a hook is enough to ruin the “fit” of many a garment, and all manner of devices—such as patent “coat-hangers,” etc.,—have been brought out to cope with the difficulty ; but none solves the problem more effectually than the old-fashioned drawer or sliding shelf. This, however, is not a question which need be threshed out here.

Figure з represents a lady’s dressing-table, very similar in arrangement, though not in form, to one that appeared in Sheraton’s book (see Fig. 3, Plate VII., in the next chapter), but who was actually responsible for the origination of the idea it is not easy to discover now. The hinged top, which is made in two sections, and encloses the whole of the interior appointments when closed, is so arranged that the two halves can be raised and swung right over, thus doubling the length of the top. This being done, a toilet-glass is revealed, which also is hinged at one end, and is capable of being adjusted to different convenient angles; on each side of this are small boxes for jewellery and accessories requisite to the toilet. The convenience of this piece of furniture, coupled with the small space it occupies, is so great that we cannot but wonder it has not been revived of late years, seeing that economy of space is such an all­important consideration in the planning of our homes. How heartily this little dressing-table would be welcomed in many a so-called “ commodious flat ” !

In Fig. 2 we have, by way of contrast, one of those handy little corner washstands of a type favoured equally by Heppelwhite and Sheraton (see also Fig. 9, Plate IX., “ Sheraton ”). Many of these have been preserved to the present day, and for compactness and convenience they are not to be surpassed. And after all, in spite of their extreme simplicity, they are by no means ungraceful.

In Figs. 7 and 8 are two chests of drawers—“dressing-


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drawers ” as they were then termed—a class of article which, says Heppelwhite, “ admits of but little variation ” ; yet the “serpentine” front of the first, the graceful “sweep "of the second, and the shaping of the lower part of the cases of both, impart a distinct charm and individuality to them which at once raises them above the commonplace.

With Fig. 9 we return to work of a more ornate character. This “commode,” as it is styled, is classed in Heppelwhite’s book under the heading “ Dressing Apparatus,” but, in his description of it, the designer states that it is “ adapted for the drawing-room,” and explains further : “ Within are shelves which answer the use of a closet or cupboard. It may have one principal door in front, or one at each end ; they are made of various shapes, and being used in the prin­cipal rooms require considerable elegance. The panels may be of satinwood, plain or inlaid ; the top, and also the border round the front, should be inlaid. The tops of these are frequently inlaid or painted work.” It must be obvious, then, that this piece was never intended to play a part in the operations of the toilet, notwithstanding the place it occupies under “ Dressing Apparatus.”

One of the most sensible and serviceable articles of furniture originated by the cabinet makers of the eighteenth century was, without doubt, the double chest of drawers— the “High Boy,” or “Tall Boy,” as it was often called. These chests, with their wealth of accommodation for clothes, house linen, and soft goods of every description, always have brought, and always will bring, joy to the heart of the careful housewife; and it is astonishing that they have fallen into disrepute, for they are seldom to be met with nowadays, except in the form of treasured old examples. If any objection is to be urged against their use it is that the upper drawers, by reason of their height from the ground, are somewhat inaccessible; but they may be reserved for the storage of linen and other articles not often

required for use, and which, when wanted, might easily be reached by the aid of a pair of steps or a chair. If any doubt as to their desirability in the home be experienced, let the opinion of our women – folk be consulted, and all doubt will be set at rest.

Chippendale was among the first responsible for the perpetuation of the “Tall Boy," and Heppelwhite, following his example, also devoted his attention to its development, as may be seen by reference to Figs. 6 and 8, Plate VI. While providing ample accommodation for the safe storage of household linen, clothes, etc., as already pointed out, they are by no means unattractive pieces of furniture, extremely simple as is their form. They were made of various dimensions, but the height was usually about the same, viz. :—five feet, six inches. Fig. 8, with its fluted pilasters at the angles of the corners, is characterised by greater dignity and sturdiness of appearance than are usually asso­ciated with this style, and recalls strongly much of the old “ Queen-Anne ’’ woodwork. Mahogany was the wood almost invariably employed in the manufacture of these double chests of drawers, and in the latter part of the century it was often enriched by satinwood “ banding ” (long thin strips of satinwood inlay).

Figures 5 and 7 show two pedestal cupboards, types which were not quite so commodious, perhaps, as their modern somewhat cumbrous and generally unattractive descendants, but they were certainly lighter in construction and far more graceful. Figs. 9, 10, and 11 illustrate three dainty little inlaid mahogany toilet-glasses, of a kind which usually occu­pied a place of honour on the top of the “dressing-chest” in the bedroom or dressing-room, and sometimes even in that woman’s sanctum sanctorum, the boudoir. Now that the swing looking-glass has become part and parcel of the toilet-table, the need for such delightful little mirrors as those illustrated, with their graceful frames, and delicately


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inlaid or painted bases, has almost disappeared, consequently the articles themselves, for the most part, also have been banished. True, a few are still made, but they are a mere “drop in the bucket.”

As a final illustration of bedroom furniture, on Plate VII. is presented a typical example of the “ Heppelwhite” “four – poster ” bedstead (Fig. 13), together with three characteristic bed-pillars (Figs. 9, 10, and n). A comparison of these with those designed by Sheraton will furnish demonstration of the fact that, though some similarity exists between the work of the two designers, that of Heppelwhite was far less ornate than that of his contemporary, greater reliance being placed on carefully considered proportion, and the harmonious dis­position of the various turned members, than on elabora­tion of detail. (See bed-pillars, Figs. 5, 6, 7, 8, Plate VII., “ Sheraton ”).

With regard to the draping of his bedsteads, Heppelwhite gives the following advice: “ It may be executed of almost any stuff which the loom produces. White dimity, plain or corded, is peculiarly applicable for the furniture, which, with a fringe with a gymp head, produces an effect of elegance and neatness truly agreeable.” The designer continues: “The Manchester stuffs have been wrought into bed furniture with good success. Printed cottons and linens are also very suitable, the elegance and variety of patterns of which afford as much scope for taste, elegance, and simplicity as the most lively fancy can wish. In general, the lining to these kinds of furniture is a plain white cotton. To furniture of a dark pattern a green silk lining may be used with good effect.” (The word “furniture” as used here by Heppelwhite applies to the hangings. It is an old-fashioned trade term.)

I need hardly point out that there is a considerable differ­ence between the “Chippendale” and the “Heppelwhite” bedstead, the latter being much lighter and more “elegant” m every respect than its forerunner. The top-heavy and

over-draped canopy is superseded by a light and graceful structure thoroughly in keeping, both as regards proportion and design, with the rest of the bedstead, and entirely free from that extraordinary medley of French, Chinese, and other nondescript detail which went so far to mar the productions of the preceding period.

The bed illustrated on Plate VII. was, in one of its renderings, draped with dove-coloured satin, lined with green silk, and so “dressed-up” must have presented a very gay appearance. Figs. 12, 14, and 15, on the same plate, are designs “ suitable for cornices for either beds or windows”; while above, in Figs. 1 to 8, are a girandole, wall mirrors, and three or four brackets. It was in articles of this fancy class that this designer employed most freely the decoration of a finikin, almost “wiry,” type, to which I have already referred. They were finished in gilt, and burnished, or coloured in order to accord with the tones predominating in the room for which they were intended. They were telling enough in their way, it is true, and helped to give an effective finish to the complete schemes of furnishing of which they formed a part; but they cannot, in my opinion, be so highly com­mended as most of Heppelwhite’s productions. Their orna­mental detail throughout is of a character far more suitable in every respect for execution in marquetry or painting than in pierced carving, their production in which is undesirable. The delicate festoons, swags, scraps of drapery, and foliations would, and do, snap off at the least provocation. But enough has been said on this head.

Having by this time, I hope, succeeded in conveying a fairly adequate idea of Heppelwhite’s notions concerning the furnishing of the drawing-room, bedroom, library, and study, 1 will now turn to the consideration of the dining-room, and here, of course, the sideboard occupies a place of no small importance. It must be understood, however, that the side­board, in the form most familiar to us, had not come into



existence at the time of which I am writing. Fortunately— speaking, of course, from the artistic standpoint—the elaborate conglomeration of shelves, spindles, brackets, and bevelled mirrors, all too well known to us to-day, found no place in the calculations of the eighteenth-century cabinet maker. If he added any superstructure to his “ sideboard ” proper, he was content with introducing merely a more or less ornate brass railing or gallery at the back and sides, sometimes supporting candelabra, in order to give a “finish" to the woodwork, and to serve as a support for the display of plate. The modern sideboard not infrequently has the appearance of being chiefly an object lesson in the skill of the glass-beveller and silverer ; but matters are improving in this direction, and one of the chief reasons for this is the return of the twentieth-century cabinet maker to the study of eighteenth – century models. The sideboard in any form, as distinct from the “ side-table," as a matter of fact, was quite a novelty even at the period when Heppelwhite’s book appeared. In writing of it that designer states : “ The great utility of this piece of furniture has procured it a very general reception, and the convenience it affords renders a dining-room incom­plete without a sideboard.”

As will be apparent upon an examination of Plate VIII., the article which Heppelwhite provided to serve the purposes generally associated with the sideboard was most frequently little more than a mere table, of more than ordinarily ornate design, it is true (see Figs. 4, n, 12, and 13), to place against the wall or in a recess ; that is to say, veritably a “ side-table " in form as well as in name. In such cases, this table proper was “supported" at each end by a decorative “pedestal" or cupboard (see Fig. 3, Plate VIII.), surmounted by a graceful vase, the various uses of which will be explained presently. One of the two pedestals was nearly always lined with tin, as it was destined to serve the purpose of a plate – warmer, being furnished for that purpose with racks and a

heater. The other pedestal was generally set apart for the storage of crockery.

The decorative vases which found a place upon them, says Heppelwhite, “ may be used to hold water for the use of the butler, or iced water for drinking, which is enclosed in an inner partition, the ice surrounding it; or may be used as knife-cases, in which case they are made of wood, carved, painted, or inlaid ; if used for water they may be made of wood or of copper japanned. The height of the pedestal is the same as the sideboard” (3 feet) “and 16 or 18 inches square ; the height of the vase about 2 feet 3 inches.”

Figures i and 4, Plate VI., represent two of these vase knife-cases ; and Figs. 2 and 3 on the same plate two knife – cases of a more common and familiar type. The former, more often than not, were made in satinwood, and the knives were fitted in to the body into baize-covered grooves. When it was desired to remove or replace the knives, the top of the vase was kept-up out of the way by means of a small spring, fitted to the stem in such a manner as to act as secure sup­port. Cases such as those shown in Figs. 2 and 3, Plate VI., were most usually of mahogany, inlaid with satinwood, and sometimes with other veneers of delicate tones of colour. Satinwood itself – was sometimes employed for the construc­tion of the main body, as in the vase forms, and afterwards enriched with daintily designed and executed inlay and brush work. Here, once again, we have an article that has been driven out of our homes by modern “improvements”; but are not our dining-rooms, at least so far as their furnishing is in question, all the poorer by reason of its absence? Which is to be preferred, I would ask—the modern knife – basket or the old “Heppelwhite” vase or case? Can there be two opinions on that point?

But this designer, as I have already indicated, did not rest content with the somewhat primitive “side-table,” with its attendant cupboards and vases, when he saw that such an


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arrangement was coming to be regarded as inadequate for the needs of the times. He advanced several steps further ; and, indeed, played a most important part in the inauguration of the true and typical late eighteenth-century sideboard, which attained its highest point of development under the hands of Thomas Sheraton ; and which, though it has been superseded, has never yet been excelled for combined grace and utility. It is true that Heppelwhite did not go very far in this direction ; but the few attempts he did essay were of great moment when they were made, and were, withal, eminently successful, as may be seen by reference to Figs. 9 and 10, Plate VIII.

In connection with these, a special note should be taken that the designer with whose productions I am now dealing always employed the concave corner. He was possibly actuated in doing so, on the one hand, by the grace of the line so obtained, in conjunction with the elliptic, or “bow,” and “serpentine ” centre ; and by the consideration, on the other, that it occupied far less space than would a perfectly straight front. The “ Sheraton ” sideboard, on the contrary, always has the convex corner (see Fig. 8, Plate IV., “ Sheraton ”). This is a notable difference that should not be lost sight of by the student and collector, for it is quite sufficient to settle finally and conclusively the sometimes vexed question of authenticity. In other respects many “ Heppelwhite ” and “ Sheraton sideboards are almost identical.

Before concluding this chapter I must touch upon yet another section of the work of this designer—the one which includes seats of various descriptions other than chairs. Among these, sofas naturally come first in importance, and four most characteristic types are presented in Figs. 1, 6, 7, and 8, Plate VIII. The frames in these cases were almost invariably of mahogany, though sometimes of beech, or some other less expensive wood, japanned. The coverings were of the same materials as those used in the upholstering

of the chairs, and the dimensions of the complete articles were as follow: Length, between 6 and 7 feet; depth, about 30 inches; height of seat-frame, 14 inches; total height in the back, 3 feet 1 inch. Figs. 1 and 4 are the most characteristically “ Heppelwhite ” of the set, for Fig. 6 has rather more squareness than is usually asso­ciated with the style ; while Fig. 7 partakes largely of the “ Louis-Quinze ” element, except in the legs which are quite “ Sheraton ” in feeling. Heppelwhite refers to the design illustrated in Fig. 8 as a “ bar-back" sofa, of which he writes : “This kind of sofa is of modern invention, and the lightness of its appearance has procured it a favourable reception in the first circles of fashion. The pattern of the back must match the chairs; these also will regulate the sort of frame­work and covering.” Fig. 2 is a simple stool, also on “ Louis – Quinze ” lines, and Fig. 5 is a graceful little “ window stool to be made in mahogany or japanned, and covered with linen or cotton to match the chairs.”

Now that we have remarked how “Heppelwhite” compares with “ Chippendale,” and, in a measure, with “ Sheraton,” with respect to the many factors which go to make up the style individually, and have judged each on its own merits, let us glance for a moment at a furnished “Heppelwhite” interior, side-by-side with one belonging to the earlier period, as they are depicted on Plate IX. in this chapter and on Plate VII. in my chapter on “Chippen­dale.” By this means we shall find ample justification for the remarks with which I commenced this review of the later style.

In the preface to his book, as already stated, Heppel­white proclaimed his intention to endeavour to “unite elegance and utility,” and in reading through his notes upon his various designs we find the words “elegance” and “ elegant ” recurring continually. Far from being devoid of meaning in the connection in which they are used there,


they really give us the keynote of all this designer’s work, and clearly indicate the spirit which actuated him in the accom­plishment of everything he undertook. He saw perfectly that a demand had arisen for a greater measure of bright­ness in the furnishing of the home, and that the public were no longer prepared to remain content with the gloomy dignity that had prevailed for all too long a time. It was apparent to him that furniture of a lighter construction, ex­hibiting greater refinement in its enrichment, and providing something more inspiriting in point of colour than the somewhat sombre, though undeniably rich, tones of old Spanish mahogany was wanted ; in fact, that the need for a higher degree of “ elegance ” absolutely must be satisfied. He accordingly set to work with a will to do all within his power to satisfy that demand, and, in his endeavours, he brought about many most notable changes. First, he recog­nised that strength, and consequent stability, in furniture might be secured most effectually without the aid of undue thickness of wood or heaviness of construction. Every part, therefore, that could be “thinned down,” without the sacrifice of strength, was thinned down by him, and with admirable judgment and taste. That good and honest construction, notwithstanding this, was not sacrificed in the course of these changes is amply proved by the almost perfect condition of his productions which remain to us, and which, owing to their lasting qualities, are entitled to as great confidence as upon the day they were first made, over a hundred years ago. Elegance of form having been gained, the highest attainable refinement, and a greater variety of colour in the enrichment by which that form was to be beautified, were the next points to be considered, and in these directions Heppelwhite was again brilliantly successful.

He was by no means disposed to underrate the value or beauty of mahogany as a “ furniture wood ” ; the very reverse was the case, as is demonstrated to the full by the


extent to which he availed himself of its services. Neither did he fail to appreciate the value of carving as a means of decoration. He appreciated thoroughly both wood and method, and utilised them as often as their use assisted him towards the attainment of the end he had in view. But he was too enterprising to stop at this point. He bore con­stantly in mind the fact that other fine hardwoods besides mahogany existed, of choice “ figure " and beautiful colouring, and that carving was not the only decorative medium available. As the employment of either on too great a scale was not conducive to the consummation of his desires, he called to his aid every rare wood that could possibly be secured, and, furthermore, set the marquetry cutters, inlayers, and wielders of the brush to carry out the dainty, and generally most chaste, conceptions that were constantly emanating from his exceptionally fertile brain.

The above is, I think, a fair, and not by any means too eulogistic, summing-up of the aspirations and methods of this designer, and the outcome of them is to be found in part in the plates which constitute by far the most important portion of this chapter, and without which my notes would be of but small value.

In 1751, just three years prior to that in which Chippendale’s great book, “The Gentleman’s and Cabinet Maker’s Director,” was first published, there was born at Stockton-on-Tees, of humble parentage, a child who, though destined to a life of comparative penury—such is the irony of fate—nevertheless won for himself in after years, by force of industry and genius, a reputation second to none in the annals of the cabinet­making of that period. He did more to elevate the craft of which he was so proud, in his own and subsequent times, than any man of his or any other age. The story of poor Sheraton’s life, or the small glimpse of it that has been ac­corded to us, is indeed full of pathos. It is far from easy to obtain biographical details of our eighteenth-century cabinet makers. In most cases none is available ; but of Sheraton, fortunately, a few particulars have been handed down to us. Though somewhat meagre, they are nevertheless of intense interest to all earnest students of the history of the furniture of the Georgeian Era who are not content to regard these old household gods merely as examples of more or less admirable craftsmanship, but who desire to look beneath the surface—to know something of the conditions of the times in which they were made, and, if possible, to try and conjure up some picture, however vague and shadowy, of the lights and shadows of the lives of the men who designed and made them.

Material upon which to base the personal details of such pictures is unfortunately wanting. We may search through our great biographical dictionaries, and resort even to the “ Encyclopaedia Britannica ” in vain, to find it. True, this


last-named publication does contain mention of Chippendale, and goes so far as to inform us that the furniture designed by him was decorated with “ marquetry. . . laid out with diapers of two woods, or with medallions and pattern work," a statement which we know to be entirely wrong. In addition to this, the names merely of Heppelwhite and Sheraton are given. So it is useless for us to look for much assistance in that direction.

Our endeavour for the moment must be to discover, as far as possible, all that is connected with the career of the designer and cabinet maker—for he, too, “ doubled the parts " —whose name heads these pages. In so doing we shall find ample food for reflection. In the first place, there can be no possible doubt that his artistic — not financial — success in after life as a designer is to be accounted for by the fact that from early childhood he was endowed with a strong bent for drawing, the steady cultivation of which, supplemented by a thorough practical training at the bench, provided a solid foundation for his future work. It seems, as I have indicated, that his career, from the outset, was nothing more nor less than one long-continued and bravely-sustained struggle. We find a saddening picture of the environment of his closing years in the Memoirs of Adam Black, who visited him on more than one occasion when a boy seeking his fortune in London, and, indeed, found employment under him for a time. In these Memoirs the writer says : “ He (Sheraton) lived in a poor street in London, his house half-shop, half-dwelling – house, and looked like a Methodist preacher worn out, with threadbare black coat. I took tea with them one afternoon. There was a cup and saucer for the host, and another for his wife, and a little porringer for their daughter. The wife’s cup and saucer were given to me, and she had to put up with another little porringer. My host seemed a good man, with some talent. He had been a cabinet maker, and was now author, publisher, and teacher of drawing, and, I believe,

occasionally preacher.” Black assisted Sheraton in some capacity, which is not stated. Describing some of his experi­ences when so occupied, he continues : “ I wrought among dirt and bugs, for which I was remunerated with half-a – guinea. Miserable as the payment was, I was ashamed to take it from the poor man. This many-sided, worn-out encyclopaedist and preacher is an interesting character, and would have taken the fancy of Dickens. He is a man of talent, and, I believe, of genuine piety. He understands the cabinet business—I believe was bred to it. He is a scholar, writes well, and, in my opinion, draws masterly ; is an author, bookseller, and teacher. We may be ready to ask how comes it to pass that a man with such abilities and resources is in such a state? I believe his abilities and resources are his ruin in this respect, for by attempting to do everything he does nothing.”

The house referred to was, doubtless, the broken-down old place in Soho, where, after failing to make a financial success of the practical side of his craft, Sheraton settled down to design for other people, prepare his books and plates for the engraver and printer, and publish other litera­ture of various kinds from his pen—notably discourses upon theological subjects. But when we read over Adam Black’s words to-day how forcibly we are struck by the poverty of that writer’s appreciation—if appreciation it may be called— of Sheraton’s life’s-work in connection with his craft, and how time has belied the all too sweeping assertion that “ by attempting to do everything he does nothing.” “Nothing” indeed! On the contrary, he did great things; so great, in fact, that, after the lapse of over a century, his name has become a household word; and, further, there are but few furnishing showrooms in the kingdom to-day where evidences of his healthy and far-reaching influence are not to be found.

In preceding chapters we have compared the respective

works of Chippendale and Heppelwhite; when we come to see how the productions of the former stand in relation to those of Sheraton we shall find that the contrast between the two is exceptionally strong. While both based their styles, to a very large extent, on the French, the majority of the models to which Chippendale went for inspiration were produced at the most extravagant periods of the Rococo. Sheraton, with his greater refinement of taste, drew such of his ideas as were not purely original from the “ Louis-Seize " —by far the most chaste and refined of all French styles— when occasion demanded that he should cater for those who demanded “something French," and would be content with nothing else. So accurate and admirable, indeed, was his interpretation of that style that his version of it is com­monly called in France “ Louis-Seize-Anglaise," and, as we shall see, not without a certain amount of justification.

In 1791 appeared “The Cabinet Maker’s and Uphol­sterer’s Drawing-Book " (in four parts), by Thomas Sheraton. In this the author describes himself as “cabinet maker,” and puts forward his book as being “recommended by many workmen of the first abilities in London, who have them­selves inspected the work." It is in this volume that the best of this old master’s designs are to be found.

That Sheraton’s character had much in it that was idealistic is, in a certain measure, indicated by the frontis­piece to “The Cabinet Maker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing – Book," which is purely symbolical, though dignified in conception, and consists of a group of classically draped figures. The object of their introduction is explained by the author in a somewhat grandiloquent “apology," well worth quoting, even if only on account of its quaintness of diction. He says: “To show in as pleasing a way as I could the Stability of this Performance and the subject of the book in general, I have, by the figure on the right hand, represented Geometry standing on a rock, with a scroll

of diagrams in his hand, conversing with Perspective, the next figure to him, who is attentive to the Principles of Geometry as the ground of his Art—which Art is represented by the frame on which he rests his hand. On the left, near the window, is an artist busy designing, at whose right hand is the Genius of Drawing, presenting the Artist with various patterns. The back figure is Architecture, measuring the shaft of a Tuscan column, and on the background is the Temple of Fame, to which a knowledge of these arts directly leads."

Truly, poor Sheraton found the key to the portals of that Temple, and has been posthumously crowned with the laurels after which he fought so hard; though during his lifetime, alas! he wanted for the barest necessaries of existence.

After the perusal of the foregoing sentences, which, though they read curiously now, were quite in the spirit of the times when they were written, it is amusing to note how faith­fully Sheraton followed the example set by his contemporaries and indulged in uncomplimentary references to the books brought out by his predecessors and competitors. Most are summarily dismissed in a few lines as almost beneath notice, because they contained little or no instruction concerning the arts of drawing, geometry, and perspective. In dealing with Heppelwhite’s book, this designer says : “ If we com­pare some designs, particularly the chairs, with the newest taste, we shall find that this work has already caught the decline, and perhaps, in a little time, will suddenly die in the disorder. This instance may serve to convince us of that fate which art books of the same kind will ever be subject to. Yet it must be owned that books of this sort have their use­fulness for a time, and when through change of fashions they are become obsolete, they serve to show the taste of former ages."

In the case of Heppelwhite, at least, the recovery from

u the decline"—if that disease ever really touched his works, which is very much to be doubted—was wonderfully rapid, and remarkably complete. The u sudden death from the disorder" has not occurred, and, notwithstanding the lapse of time since it was prophesied, need not be anticipated yet awhile.

We have sufficient evidence in Sheraton’s writings alone, quite independent of the testimony of others, to lead us to recognise the fact that he was a man of exceptional rectitude of character ; and I shall make bold to claim that this rectitude is strongly and unmistakably reflected in most of his designs—including even simple chairs and tables. I may be laughed at for making such an assertion ; but in that light I regard his designs. Throughout, the work is con­scientious in the extreme ; and the straight line, free from deviations, predominates everywhere. The “ Louis-Quinze," so beloved of Chippendale, exercised no fascination over this upright old master, who very seldom indulged in the intro­duction of much constructional shaping where he could possibly avoid doing so. It is of the greatest importance that the student should make a particular note of this fact, for it will aid him materially in distinguishing between “ Heppelwhite" and “Sheraton," especially where chair-backs are concerned. It is true that each borrowed from the other to a greater or less extent, for, as we have already noted, there are chairs in Heppelwhite’s book that are most dis­tinctly “ Sheraton," and vice versa. Thus, in many instances, it is very easy to confuse the two styles ; but they must not be confused, and I am endeavouring in these pages to show how each may be distinguished from the other with every possible degree of certainty.

But to return to “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing-Book.” In explaining its scope, Sheraton remarks : “ I find some have expected designs as never were seen, heard of, nor conceived in the imagination of man ; whilst others

have wanted them to suit a broker’s shop, to save the trouble of borrowing a basin-stand to show a customer. Some have expected it to furnish a country wareroom, to avoid the expense of making-up a good bureau, and double chest of drawers, with canted corners, etc.; and though it is difficult to conceive how these different qualities could be united in a book of so small a compass, yet, according to some reports, the broker himself may find his account in it, and the country master will not be altogether disappointed ; whilst others say many of the designs are rather calculated to show what may be done than to exhibit what is or has been done in the trade. According to this the designs turn out to be on a more general plan than what I intended them, and answer, beyond my expectation, the above various descriptions of subscribers. However, to be serious, it was my first plan, and has been my aim through the whole, to make the book in general as permanently useful as I could, and to unite with usefulness the taste of the times ; but I could never expect to please all in so small a compass : to compose an entire book for each class of subscribers, and after all, there would be something wanting still.”

We must now, however, leave generalisation, and com­mence our study of “ Sheraton ” as a style ; and following the plan adopted in my chapters on "Chippendale” and “ Heppelwhite,” we will deal with chairs before considering larger and more imposing pieces.

Those depicted on Plate I., in the first place, may be accepted as a preliminary justification of the assertion I have made more than once in these pages, that Sheraton was, in a large number of his designs, very strongly influenced by the " Louis-Seize,” and particularly by the work of the French chair makers who had to do with the origination of that style. This is especially apparent in Figs. 1, 2, 3, and 5, which might, without fear of objection, be justly described, after the French fashion, as " Louis-Seize-Anglaise ”; though it

must be observed that subtle divergences from the original style mark all five unmistakably as being Sheratonian versions, both in respect of form and embellishment. Still, the source of their inspiration is not to be denied, and I am inclined to think that Sheraton would have been one of the first to acknowledge it, for commercial if not for any other reasons. In his day, all things “ French" were in demand in this country, and any designs that savoured of Paris were almost certain of a hearty welcome from the public.

Figures 4 and 6 on the same plate, are, on the other hand, in every respect pure “ Sheraton," and that without the “ Louis – Seize ” qualification ; but a better and more complete idea of all the leading characteristics of the chair-work of this master may be gained by an examination of Plate II., upon which his most characteristic chair-backs are represented, and which practically constitutes, in itself, an exhaustive sum­ming-up of his ideas with regard to chairs.

Figures 6 and 15 are exceptions, for they cannot be described as pure u Sheraton," but should rather come under the head­ing of “ Heppelwhite." In the preceding chapter I have dealt somewhat exhaustively with the relationship subsisting between the two shield-shapes as found in these respective styles, explaining how one may be distinguished from the other; but I may remind the reader that, when that form is employed by Sheraton, the curve at the top is in all cases broken in the centre, as shown, instead of being continuous as in the “ Heppelwhite " backs. Other subtle points of differ­ence also have been made clear (see page 139). Knowing these, the collector, when called upon to pronounce judgment on chairs of this class, will be able to decide immediately which is which, even when the books in which the illustra­tions originally appeared are not available for reference—and they seldom are in cases of emergency.

In the majority of his chairs, especially the more expen­sive, Sheraton, wherever he possibly could, adopted the


Reference in Text


Fig. i. See 171, 174, 261

>> 2. ,, 169, 261

3- ,, 169, 174


Fig. 4. See 170 ,, 5. „ 169, 174, 261

6. .. T 70

turned leg, in such forms as those shown on Plate I. and Figs, i, 14, 15, and 16, Plate III., while Heppelwhite almost invariably cultivated the square, though there are exceptions, to which reference has already been made (see page 142). Furthermore, it is most exceptional to discover a genuine “Sheraton” chair with underframing—that is to say, with rails from leg to leg, placed about six inches from the ground, in order to strengthen the lower part—though in some by contemporary makers, based on his style, that feature appears. Those, however, we shall consider in another chapter.

The details employed by Sheraton are, as I have said, closely related to those originated by the creators of the “ Louis-Seize.” This is natural, for are they not the outcome of a union between the ideas of this designer and that of his French confreres in the craft? It necessarily follows, there­fore, that they are distinguished throughout by extreme delicacy and refinement. The reeded and fluted leg, twisted pillar, husks, festoons or “ swags ” of drapery and flowers; the vase, cornucopiae, and acanthus-like foliations, consti­tuted for the most part his stock-in-trade in this department; but he elaborated them, rendering them according to his own taste, and disposed them with rare skill, almost always stamping them to a greater or less degree with the mark of his own individuality.

“ Sheraton ” chairs, and indeed all pieces of furniture in that style, are, with very few exceptions, of mahogany or satinwood. There are very few indeed which are not en­riched, at least in some measure, with carving or inlay, though, in special instances, the brush was employed as a means of decoration, and with peculiarly rich effect, as may be gathered from the impression conveyed by Figs. 8, 9, 10, and 11, Plate II., for example. It is exceptionally rare, however, nowadays to secure authentic examples of this painted fur­niture in even passable condition, for the ravages of time have inevitably played havoc with the delicate painting which

originally embellished them. Some, it is true, have survived almost in entirety, and time has been more than kind to them, deepening the tone of the wood and endowing the colours with a dreamy softness that is altogether beautiful, and impossible to imitate; but the rest have gone the way of most earthly things, helping to verify the truth of the old adage, ‘‘Tout lasse, tout passe, tout casse.”

Throughout his best work Sheraton never, under any circumstances, permitted the ornament which he employed to take the place of construction, but always made a point of keeping it absolutely subservient to the general form and main constructive lines of his designs. In the enrichment of his productions he was a decorative artist in the strictest sense of the word; he never gave way to the temptation, which must have assailed him equally with every designer at some time or another, to trespass beyond the limits imposed by the materials in which his ideas were to be carried out. In this respect he differed greatly, I need hardly say, from Chippendale, who frequently erred in the contrary direction as has been indicated in preceding chapters.

Having in the first place devised what he considered to be a graceful form, which satisfied his hypercritical mind in every particular, and might therefore be depended on to satisfy others less exacting, Sheraton set about to enrich it with such carving, inlay, or painting as he deemed most suitable for the attainment of the object he had in view. The result was almost invariably eminently successful, reflecting the highest credit upon its originator, and exciting the admiration of all possessed of sufficient culture to appre­ciate such taste and craftsmanship. The consistency with which he adhered to this principle, keeping artistic fitness continually in view, is especially apparent in his chair-backs ; but the same rule was brought into force in the designing and construction of the cabinet work which has made his


Reference in Text. See pages 141I 170, 171, 173. 262

name famous, and the chief characteristics of which we shall take into consideration later.

A glance at Fig. 1, Plate II., and a study of the whole of the decorative detail on Plate III., will aid in giving a still more complete conception of “Sheraton” chair making and upholstery generally. In the first we have a “conversa­tion chair,” and with reference to this class Sheraton writes : “These conversation chairs are used in library or drawing­rooms. The parties who converse with each other sit with their legs across the seat, and rest their arms on the top rail, which, for this purpose, is made about з| inches wide, stuffed, and covered.

“ For the convenience of sitting in the manner just men­tioned, the chair is made long between front and back, and very narrow in the back and front in proportion. The height of the chair to the stuffing is 3 feet; at the back 10 inches, spreading out in width to the top rail, which is 20 inches in length. The front is 16 inches, and the height of the seat as common.” Here, of course, we have the “ Louis-Seize ” again; as also in the “triple-back” settee, or “sofa,” as it was styled, on Plate III. For the rest, the arms, balusters, and turning shown on the same plate will serve as a capital object lesson in the decorative detail of the style under notice.

Reverting for a moment to the “triple-back” settee, it was the designer’s intention that the space between the three main divisions of the back should have “a ground-work covered with silk. . . . Against this ground the two columns and the ornament are supposed to rest.”

It has been said, by a competent writer on the subject, that Sheraton “might generally be described as the English designer who adapted to our wants the fancies of the court of Marie Antoinette.” A more apt summing-up of a certain, and perhaps the most important, section of his work could not be desired ; but taken literally, and by itself, it is calculated to convey but a limited idea of this designer’s capabilities.

I will now say a word or two about Sheraton’s chairs in which upholstery plays the leading part, as in such examples as those in Figs, i, 3, and 5, Plate I. In instructions re­garding their treatment it is specified that : “ These chairs are finished in white-and-gold, or the ornaments may be japanned ; but the French finish them in mahogany with gilt mouldings. The figures in the tablets above the front rails are on French printed silk or satin sewed on to the stuffing with borders round them. The seat and back are of the same kind as in the ornamental tablet at the top. The top rail is panelled out, and a small gold bead mitred round, and silk pasted on.”

So much for the t( Sheraton ” chair and sofa. We may now turn our attention to the examination of some of that old master’s cabinet work; and in so doing it will be con­venient for us to commence with his designs for the furnish­ing of the dining-room, and see, in the first place, what hand he had in the development of the sideboard in the form in which it was then coming into vogue.

It has been explained, in the preceding chapter, that that article, as we know it to-day, found no place in the design books of the eighteenth-century cabinet maker, and I have ventured to express the opinion that the modern type is not such a very vast improvement when compared with the old, except perhaps in respect to increased accommo­dation for the accessories of the table. But the sideboard of Sheraton was more commodious than that of Heppelwhite, though very similar in form, as we have seen, and shall see further presently; and it is for us to discover now wherein the difference lay. The former has certain distinguishing features, which may be regarded almost in the light of “ hall marks,” so to speak.

In the first place, I will recapitulate the fact that Sheraton paid but little attention to the u side-table,” which plays so important a part in Heppelwhite’s book; and seldom intro-


Reference in Text. See pages 141, 171, 172, 173-261

duced the perfectly straight unbroken front, as Heppelwhite frequently did. In the second place, Sheraton made the corners of his sideboards convex; while Heppelwhite, almost invariably, introduced the concave corner to his designs. By that means, the former considerably enhanced the drawer-space by the difference between the two curves—the concave and the convex. This, as I have said, may be accepted as a practically invariable rule, to which there are few, if any, exceptions.

As will be seen, too, on Plate IV., Sheraton was hardly pleased with the somewhat bare appearance of the sideboard top, pure and simple, without anything to give a finish to it and lead up to the wall above; he formed the idea, therefore, of adding a superstructure of brass, in many cases some­what elaborate, from which silk or other curtains could be suspended. This plan was seldom, if ever, adopted by Hep­pelwhite, who, in the treatment of this piece of furniture, cultivated greater simplicity in every respect, and did not by any means exhibit ingenuity equal to that of Sheraton, a quality which I may state without fear of contradiction he did not possess in any very great degree.

As to the form of the superstructure referred to, Fig. 8, Plate IV., furnishes one example of a type which, says Sheraton, “ is used to set large dishes against, and to support a couple of candle or lamp branches in the middle, which, when lighted, give a very brilliant effect to the silver ware. The branches are each of them fixed in one socket, which slides up and down on the same rod to any height, and fixed anywhere by turning a screw. These rods have sometimes returns" (additional rods running at right angles to the back ones) “at each end of the sideboard” (see Fig. 10), “and some­times they are made straight the whole length of the side­board” (see Fig. 8), “and have a narrow shelf in the middle” (see Fig. 10 again) “ made of fine half-inch mahogany, for the purpose of setting smaller dishes on, and sometimes smaller silver ware.”


Proceeding to describe the interior of the sideboard itself, Sheraton says: “The right-hand drawer, as in common, contains the cellarette, which is often made to draw out separate from the rest. It is partitioned, and lined with lead, to hold nine or ten wine bottles" (see Fig. 9).

“The drawer on the left is usually plain, but sometimes divided into two ; the back division being lined with baize to hold plates, having a cover hinged to enclose the whole. The front division is lined with lead, so that it may hold water to wash glasses ; which may be made to take out or have a plug-hole to let off the dirty water. This left-hand drawer is, however, sometimes made very short to give place to a pot – cupboard behind, which opens by a door at the end of the sideboard. This door is made to hide itself in the end rail as much as possible, both for look and secrecy. For which reason a turn-buckle is not used, but a thumb-spring, which catches at the bottom of the door, and has a communi­cation through the rail, so that by a touch of the finger the door flies open, owing to the existence of a common spring fixed to the rabbet, which the door falls against.

“ In spacious dining-rooms the sideboards are often made without drawers of any sort, having simply a rail a little ornamented, and pedestals with vases at each end, which produce a grand effect.” Sideboards of this last-named type are described and illustrated in my chapter on “ Heppelwhite." Sheraton continues: “There are other sideboards for small dining-rooms, made without either drawers or pedestals ; but have generally a wine-cooler to stand under them, hooped with brass, partitioned and lined with lead, for wine bottles, the same as the above-mentioned cellarette drawers."

In reading through the foregoing description we cannot fail to be impressed by the exhaustive thoroughness with which Sheraton went into matters of the most minute detail ; and, while striving to produce furniture that would give satis­faction to the eye in every respect, held, at the same time,


that considerations of utility were of paramount importance. He recognised that the sideboard had to be looked at, and therefore he rendered it as presentable as possible; but he constantly bore in mind the fact that, after all, its appearance was, strictly speaking, but a minor consideration, so he worked accordingly.

The reception of the smaller plate, the temporary storage and cooling of wine bottles, baize-lined asylums for the safe keeping of plates, etc., etc., had to be provided for before any­thing else was thought of; and though, like Heppelwhite, this designer aimed at combining elegance and utility in all his productions, it is impossible, after studying all his works, not to come to the conclusion that he regarded the latter as more indispensable than the former, though neither was by any means, or under any circumstances, neglected.

That he always had the complete effect in view, I need hardly say, and he was particular that it should not be inter­fered with more than was absolutely necessary even by essen­tial details of construction, as, for example, in arranging the cupboard door “to hide itself in the end as much as possible, both for look and secrecy,” and in the substitution of the almost imperceptible thumb-spring for the more apparent and equally effectual turn-buckle. These are small, and, maybe, in the eyes of some people, insignificant points, but in the observation of them reposes the secret of much of Sheraton’s greatness. Furthermore, inasmuch as the sideboard often constituted a sort of domestic altar for the display of family plate, it seemed to this designer entitled to have a set illumi­nation of its own, to “ bring out" to full advantage the charms of the silver proudly arranged upon it. Hence he provided the brass branches for the reception of candles—as perfect a means of artificial lighting as has yet been found, notwithstanding their disadvantages. These branches were made as decorative as circumstances would permit. And so

we might continue to discuss detail after detail, but I imagine


that the reader will already have come to the conclusion with regard to these productions that, taking them all in all, any­one who set himself to improve upon genuine “ Sheraton," either in regard to general convenience or elegance, would have a hard task. Many have tried, but few have succeeded.

We see, then, that by the time this designer had done with it, the sideboard—as distinct from the older “ side-table," with its attendant pedestals and vases, which produced such a “ grand effect"—had become firmly established in the British home as an indispensable item in the dining-room, and from that day forward continued to grow in dimensions—though certainly not in grace!—until it assumed proportions alto­gether and unwarrantably unwieldy.

We will take “ Sheraton " bookcases next; and it must be noted that this designer paid very considerable attention to the development of these articles, some capital types of which are illustrated on Plates IV. and V. In writing of these, I may point out, in the first place, that here again we find the same regard—remarked upon earlier in the chapter—paid to that cardinal principle of decorative art which dictates that ornament should be subordinated to construction—a principle Sheraton never intentionally violated. Of Fig. 5, Plate IV., a typical example, the designer says : “The use of this piece is to hold books in the upper part, and in the lower it con­tains a writing-drawer and clothes-press shelves. The design is intended to be executed in satinwood, and the ornaments japanned. It may, however, be done in mahogany, and, in place of the ornaments in the friezes, flutes may be substituted. The pediment is simply a segment of a circle, and it may end in the form of a fan, with leaves in the centre. The vases may be omitted to reduce the work ; but, if they are intro­duced, the pedestal on which the centre vase rests is merely a piece of thin wood, with a necking and base moulding mitred round and planted on the pediment. The pilasters on the bookcase doors are planted on the frame, and the doors





hinged as usual. The tops of the pilasters are made to imitate the Ionic capital.”

Were we disposed to adopt a hypercritical attitude, some slight exception might be taken to this sham construction— that is to say, to the “planting-on” of what should really be constructive details—but the deceit is really so very harmless in every respect, and the construction underlying it all is so honest and genuine, that we are inclined to withhold condem­nation. Where such a course is pursued in order to hide faulty material, or scamped workmanship, the case is alto­gether different; but an act like that would never have been condoned by Sheraton, who preferred to follow in the foot­steps of the traditional builders of Milan Cathedral, rather than to emulate the example of those responsible for the erection of that famous church in the States which was described as “ ‘ Queen-Anne’ in front, and * Mary-Ann ’ behind.”

To give Sheraton’s detailed description of all the pieces illustrated here would occupy far too great space, and would be to little purpose, for most of the particulars given are of greater interest to the manufacturer than to the student, collector, or connoisseur, consisting as they do of technical details regarding construction. Those who desire to refer to them can easily turn to the original book, or to the fac­simile reproduction of it, one or the other of which is avail­able at most public libraries, as well as in not a few private ones.

Reference to Figs. 6 and 7, Plate IV.; and to Fig. 1, Plate

V. , will show more fully still how fond Sheraton was of employing the vase as a finial in his pediments.

Turning to another important phase of this master’s work, which we must consider at some length, we will examine one or two examples of what may be described as “ Sheraton Inventive Furniture,” and this is really worthy of more than passing notice on account of the fact that it is endowed with

something more than grace of design and the average measure of usefulness to command the attention of the student. The exhaustive knowledge of geometry and perspective possessed by this craftsman—and it is in the light of a craftsman that we must now regard him for a moment—his love of mechanics, and never-failing regard for utility, led him to conceive, and work out, problems in cabinet construction such as had never before been attempted, or even dreamed of, by any other member of his craft. The solution of these problems resulted in the origination, and production, of household gods in which all manner of unexpected develop­ments were most ingeniously provided, and which, in most cases, were of real practical utility, and exceptionally clever in conception and execution.

A better instance, perhaps, could not be cited to illustrate the lengths to which he was prepared to go in this direction than the one depicted in Fig. 8, Plate VI. Here we have a table apparently innocent of all complications, but which, by the raising of the hinged top and adjustment of the interior, can be almost instantaneously converted into some­thing totally and altogether different—viz., library steps with hand-rail and book-rest complete—the least relationship be­tween which and a table could hardly be imagined to exist. The step-chair is familiar enough to us, but this step-table, though designed and made over a century ago, will, I imagine, be a novelty to most of my readers.

To quote full particulars here as to the mechanism of this device—and it is really simple—is quite impracticable; but the following extract from Sheraton’s description may be given : “ This design was taken from steps made by Mr. Campbell, upholsterer to the Prince of Wales. They were first made for the king, and highly approved by him, as every way answering the intended purpose. There are other kinds of library steps which I have seen, made by other persons, but, in my opinion, these must have the

Reference in Text


PaSe I Page

Figs. 1,2. See 185 Fig. 8. See 180

„ 3, 4, 6, 7. ,, 186 ,, 9. „ 186, 263

„ 5- „ 181 I J




decided preference both as to simplicity and firmness when they are set up. The steps may be put up in half-a-minute, and the whole may be taken down and enclosed within the table frame in about the same time. The table, when enclosed, serves as a library table, and has a rising flap, supported by a horse, to write on."

At the first glance, this piece might hastily be pro­nounced a useless example of extravagant eccentricity, but a more careful examination will show that it is nothing of the sort. The design and construction of the whole thing are dominated by sterling common sense. The same idea was worked out by Sheraton in a smaller form, in connec­tion with his “Pembroke" tables, “which,” he says, “are considerably more simple than those already described ; and, although not so generally useful, will come vastly cheaper."

We have still more inventive furniture on Plate VI., where, among similar novelties, we find, in Fig. 5, another most ingenious contrivance described as a “Harlequin Table," which “serves not only as a breakfast but also as a writing-table, very suitable for a lady." Sheraton gives a reason for the description applied to this piece by explaining : “ It is termed a ‘Harlequin Table’ for no other reason but because, in exhibitions of that sort, there is generally a great deal of machinery introduced in the scenery.” In view of the

meagreness of this explanation, and judging by the know­ledge we possess of the strict religious views held by Sheraton, it is fair to assume that this “ methodist preacher, worn-out, with threadbare coat,” had probably never witnessed a pantomime, and was, therefore, ignorant of the fact that, in the Harlequinade, the principal figure, from which that extravagance takes its name, usually makes his appearance by shooting up through a trap-door in the centre of the stage, as does the nest of drawers and “ pigeon holes " in the table in question when opened. Hence the name, of course.

By a clever arrangement, these drawers, etc., were made

to rise or disappear automatically at will; sinking into the well beneath when not required for writing purposes, and so leaving the space free for breakfast, or any other object which a table serves. In the making-up of this article, Sheraton preferred to use mahogany, relieved by enrichment of inlay of flowing floral design, executed in variously-coloured woods.

Further practical demonstrations .of this designer’s rare ingenuity are illustrated in the lady’s writing-table, Fig. 4, Plate IV.; and a simpler piece for the same purpose, Fig. 10, Plate V.; the study, or library, writing-table, Fig. 7, Plate V. ; dressing-table, Fig. 3. Plate VII.; dressing-chest, Fig. 1, Plate

VII. ; and drawing-table, Fig. 2, Plate IX.

Of Fig. 4, Plate IV.—admittedly “after the French"— Sheraton says: “The convenience of this table is, that a lady, when writing at it, may receive both the benefit of the fire, and have her face screened from its scorching heat. The style of finishing them is neat and rather elegant. They are fre­quently made of satinwood, cross-banded, japanned, and the top lined with green leather. . . . Observe, that in the side boxes the ink-drawer is on the right, and the pen-drawer on the left. These both fly out of themselves, by the force of a common spring, when the knob on which the candle branch is fixed is pressed. . . . Observe a patera” (a circular piece of wood) “in the centre of the back, amidst the ornament. This patera communicates to a spring. . . which keeps down the screen. . . and by touching. . . the spring is relieved, and weights send up the screen. . . . There is a drawer under the top, which extends the whole of the space between the legs." The rest of the description is purely technical. The small “screen-table," Fig. 10, Plate V., is a simpler application of the same contrivance as regards the screen, which is so fitted that, when down, its presence is not apparent, the top edge of the frame forming part of the design which enriches the table top itself.

Figure 7, Plate V., is a library table, with a drawer at each

end containing adjustable book rests—a capital arrangement; while the little dressing-table, Fig. 3, Plate VII., with its adjustable glass in the centre, jewel boxes, drawer, and writ­ing slide, is very similar in many respects to one shown in Heppehvhite’s book, and upon which I have already com­mented. As will be seen, the whole of the toilet arrangements can be enclosed, when not required for use, by shutting the hinged top. In Fig. i, Plate VII., we have a “lady’s dressing commode,” which, as will be evident, has provision for all the operations associated with the toilet. “ The top which covers and encloses the dressing part” (when shut) “slides down behind ”—much in the same manner as do the screens already referred to.

Finally, so far as this inventive furniture is concerned, we will glance at the “drawing-table,” Fig. 2, Plate IX. What a blessing such an article as this must ever be to the professional draughtsman; or, indeed, to anyone artistically inclined. The proofs which Sheraton gave of rare ingenuity are by no means exhausted by these examples ; indications of it will be found, in one corner or another, in almost every piece of cabinet work he designed, but those we have now been able to study will suffice to convey a good idea of this phase of his work.

While on this subject, I may perhaps mention an incident which I witnessed some time ago at an exhibition of furniture. A toilet-table was shown by a large firm of manufacturers, the special feature of which was a clever arrangement of con­cealed and adjustable mirrors, exciting the unstinted admira­tion and envy of all feminine beholders. Enquirers were assured that it was “ quite a novelty; and our own exclusive patent, madam.” As a matter of fact, the whole device came from the brain of Sheraton over a century ago, and was made up by him. Poor old Sheraton! Probably the profits on that alone, had he been able to make it his own “exclusive patent,” might have paid for a few extra cups and saucers, so

that, when he entertained visitors, his wife might have had something better than that little porringer.

The “ kidney-table,” so denominated by reason of the fact that “it resembles in form that intestine part of animals so called,” must also come under the heading “ Inventive Furni­ture,” for the centre part is arranged to slide forward, and has a rising flap adjustable to almost any angle, “ to answer the requirements of writing, or reading, or drawing.” The whole of the mechanical arrangements are in this case, again, skil­fully concealed when the table is closed, and occupy but a very small space in the interior. The “kidney” form is a most convenient one for writing at, as the two ends of the top, and the side drawers in the pedestals, are situated within easy reach.

Returning to productions in which mechanical ingenuity plays only a minor part—if any part at all—we will now deal with another piece of furniture designed to answer the requirements of the literarily inclined, that is to say, the “bureau bookcase,” “escritoire,” “secretaire,” or “secretary ” as Sheraton preferred to call it. This designer does not appear, so far as we can judge, to have thought much of the simple, and even then old-fashioned, but nevertheless popular, bureau-bookcase form, which was so great a favourite with Heppelwhite and with Chippendale before him ; he did not deign to illustrate a single example of that particular type in his book, though doubtless many were made to his instruc­tions. Possibly he deemed it too commonplace for one whose desire was that all his work should be marked by originality. Be the reason what it may, he confined his attention almost without exception—that is to say, so far as the illustrations in his book went—to much more elaborate creations, such as Figs. 5 and 6, Plate IV.; and Fig. 1, Plate V.

This complete disregard of a particular type which was so eminently useful in itself, and comparatively inexpensive

so far as cost of manufacture was concerned, is a curious and interesting point; and one, withal, that should not be lost sight of, if only for the reason that it marks most distinctly another direction in which a line may be drawn between true “ Heppelwhite ” and “ Sheraton.”

In addition to his more ambitious “ secretarys,” for serious work, this designer, as has already been indicated, devoted considerable attention to the provision of smaller, and alto­gether daintier, articles, designed for the use of ladies wishing to transact their correspondence with some measure of privacy and comfort; and we will now notice one or two of these.

Figure ii, Plate V., is a compact and graceful little writing-table, “made for the convenience of moving from one room to another ”; a handle is therefore duly provided on the upper shelf, as shown in the drawing. In the door is a slider to write on, and on the right hand of it ink, sand” (blotting paper was not common then), “and pens.”

Figure i, Plate VI., represents a “lady’s secretary,” to be made in “black rosewood and tulip cross-banding, together with brass mouldings, which produce a fine effect. The upper shelf is intended to be marble, supported with brass pillars, and a brass ornamental rim round the top. The lower part may be fitted up in drawers on one side, and the other with a shelf to hold a lady’s hat.” More thought for the wants of the women folk!

The “cylinder desk and bookcase,” Fig. 2, Plate VI., is rather more ambitious in character, and is not dedicated to the fair sex, though I think that Sheraton must have had the boudoir or drawing-room in mind when he designed it, for it was to be “made of satinwood, cross banded, and varnished. . . green silk fluting behind the glass. . . drapery put on at the top, . . . the ornament in the diamond part ” (in the centre of the doors) “ to be carved and gilt, laid on to some sort of silk ground. . . . The rim round the top. . . to be brass.”

Space will not permit me to illustrate more than three other examples of this type. The first of these is the “ lady’s cabinet and writing-table,” Fig. 4, Plate VI., which is a light and graceful article, replete with handy conveniences for the reception of stationery, papers, small books, and the like. Fig. 3, on the same plate, is “a cabinet… to accommodate a lady with conveniences for writing and reading and holding her trinkets and other articles of that kind ; ” and is to be “ veneered with the finest satinwood ; ” and Fig. 9 is another “ cabinet,” the front of the upper part of which falls down to furnish a surface for writing purposes. Sheraton is careful to point out that “ the flower-pot at the top and that on the stretcher are supposed to be real, not carved. . . . The candle branches turn to any form in a socket, and the whole may be taken away, as they are only screwed into a nut fixed into the legs of the table.” Fig. 6 is a library table that calls for no explanation ; and Fig. 7 a simple and most graceful card-table, to be made in mahogany, inlaid or japanned, and carved.

Reverting, for a moment or two, to bookcases, a word must now be said on the subject of traceried doors, and we must endeavour, if possible, to determine finally the respects in which those of Sheraton differ from the traceries of Heppelwhite, and decide by what details or characteristics one may be distinguished from the other. Typical “ Sheraton ” traceries are shown in Figs. 5, 6, and 7, Plate IV., and in Figs, i and 2, and, to an enlarged scale, in Figs. 3, 4, 5, 6, Plate V. These traceries, as I have previously pointed out, were most usually carried out in mahogany or in satinwood, but brass, lacquered or painted, was not infrequently, and with excellent effect, introduced in place of wood. Similar traceries were, of course, employed in carcase work other than bookcases, but not very often.

In my chapter on “ Heppelwhite,” I have emphasised the fact that a certain amount of similarity exists between the

door traceries in that style, and those of the style we are now considering; but, at the same time, I have explained that, in most cases, the former are more angular in feeling and detail than the latter. A comparison of those illustrated in this book, as representative of the respective styles, will make this difference perfectly clear. It may be well to draw attention, also, to the fact that Sheraton favoured the oval greatly as a centre-piece, and was fond of introducing the vase and the “Prince of Wales’s Feathers,” with other detail, in connection with it.

Another most important feature by which “ Sheraton ” may be distinguished from “ Heppelwhite,” and which gives the originator of the former the greater claim to superiority, is the pediment, when it is present, in the larger and more pretentious cabinet work. We have studied Heppelwhite’s ideas concerning the forms which this should take, and have come, I think, to the conclusion that, in that respect at least, he has been found sadly wanting. It is not necessary for me to recapitulate what I have already written upon that point; but I may remind my readers that the “Heppelwhite” pediment is almost invariably “ finikin ” and fragile in appearance as well as in fact, and quite unworthy to occupy a place on most of the structures which it sur­mounts. We have remarked that the design, in nine cases out of ten, was far more suitable for being rendered in painting, or marquetry, than in pierced carving — the medium usually adopted.

The “ Sheraton ” pediments, however, are vastly differ­ent, and infinitely better, though, it must be admitted, that their designer did err occasionally, but only very slightly, in the direction specified. For example, some of the vases, swags, leafage, and scroll-work on the pediments of Figs. 5, 6, and 7, Plate IV.; and Figs. 1 and 2, Plate V.; are not above this reproach ; but it must be observed that none of them is so fragile or filigree-like as are most of those

of Heppelwhite. What delicate details exist are, with but very few exceptions, sustained by stronger ones, their association with which conveys an impression of security. But we can see plainly that this designer did not at all approve of the "wiry” pediment, though he did indulge in it occasionally in deference to prevailing demands. As regards this member, we find him at his best in the suggestions that appear in Figs. 9, 10, and 11, Plate VII.

These are well conceived, admirably proportioned, and extremely graceful in line ; and the appearance of delicacy and lightness is cleverly attained without the slightest sacrifice of security or strength. The first of the three, it is true, is pierced right through, but the wood in which the piercing has been executed is of sufficient thickness to support that operation without giving rise to any fear of disastrous results. To sum up briefly the pediments peculiar to the three styles we have before us — "Chippendale," "Heppelwhite,” and "Sheraton.” The first were based on good old "Classic" lines, and, though graceful, were some­what heavy in appearance; the second went to the other extreme, and looked almost as if the least shaking would bring them down on our heads, or a puff of wind would blow them away ; while the last attained the happy medium, combining the three desired qualities—strength, lightness, and grace.

The fire screen was another article that commenced to win popularity in this country earlier in the century, and the favour which it enjoyed was unquestionably partly due to the efforts of Chippendale, who paid considerable attention to its design, and presented it in many attractive and pleasing guises. It took two principal forms. First there was the "banner" or "pole" screen—a comparatively small piece of textile fabric, framed in with wood or metal, and decoratively supported by a swing " arm" of brass, or mounted on an upright pillar or standard. Then came the " horse " screen, a

larger panel of silk, tapestry, or some other material, in a wooden frame, and supported by “ claw ” or other feet.

Of the first variety we have a graceful example in Fig. 3, Plate IV., styled by Sheraton a “ tripod screen ”; another, of a similar type, appears in Fig. 9, Plate V. The latter was intended for “ finishing in white and gold, and the other was to be made in mahogany, or japanned.” Writing of these screens as a class, the designer explains : “ The rods. . . are all supposed to have a hole through them, and a pulley let in near the top on which the line passes, and a weight being enclosed in the tassel, the screen is balanced to any height. . . . Such screens as have very fine prints, or worked satin, commonly have a glass before them. In which case a frame is made, with a rabbet to receive the glass, and another to receive the straining frame, to prevent it from breaking the glass; and to enclose the straining frame a bead ismitredround.”

The “ pole ” or “ tripod ” screen has its advantages where it is desired to protect the face alone from the heat of the fire, which works havoc with the best of complexions, and is furthermore far from beneficial to the eyes ; but to shield the body as well something further is required. This is furnished by the “horse” screen, and we will now take a glance at Sheraton’s rendering of that article.

He did not illustrate many, which is rather surprising when we remember how prolific in their production were the French cabinet makers of the “ Louis-Seize,” the style so beloved of Sheraton ; but a typical model of one of those that he did show appears in Fig. 2, Plate VII. This is, I need hardly say, “ after the French manner,” and it was intended that the panel should be filled with embroidered silk. Another form of “horse” screen, introduced by this maker himself, was supported in the centre by a “ tripod,” instead of at the sides as shown on Plate VII. ; it was so constructed that the upper part turned on a swivel, so that it might be put at any angle without moving the whole.

Figure 13, Plate VII., is not a screen, though at the first glance at the illustration it might be taken for one ; it is a uhorse" dressing-glass (the term “cheval glass" is more commonly employed nowadays) provided with a handy attachment on each side for the reception of the innumerable odds-and-ends of the dressing-table which are inseparable from the feminine toilet. The glass in this case is made to rise and fall, being balanced by leaden weights ingeniously concealed in the side standards. The description given is as follows : “ There is a brass handle behind the ornamented top to raise the glass by. The boxes on each side are in­tended to hold conveniences for dressing. On these there is a comb tray on the left side, and a pin-cushion on the right. When the dressing-boxes are not in use, they are intended to turn behind the glass. For this purpose they are fixed to a brass socket, which turns upon a short brass rod, and by a screw they may be raised up or lowered at pleasure."

What a true delight this master took in the invention and provision of these little “ conveniences," and especially of those intended to increase the comfort of the gentler sex ; and how acceptable they must have been to his patrons, particularly to the fashionable dames and demoiselles of that period when toilet and dress were matters of paramount importance, and paint, powder, and patches were the order of the day. It is easy to see, by the character of these cunning devices, that they came from the brain of a married man ; but how many of them, I wonder, were ever even seen—much less used—by the poor partner of the joys and sorrows of their inventor? It is to be feared that few of them came the way of that poor struggling soul.

While in the domain of the toilet, it behoves us to see what manner of bedstead Sheraton was wont to provide for those who favoured him with their patronage. We will first examine the three characteristic pillars which appear in Figs. 6, 7, and 8, Plate VII. The reader will do well to study

Reference in Text Page

Fig. 5. See 155, 192

,, 6. ,, 155, 190, 191

,, 7. ,, 155, 190, 191

,, 8. ,, 155, 190, 191


Fig. 9.

,, IO „ 12 » 13



these in conjunction with those designed by Heppelwhite and Chippendale, but more particularly by the former (see “ Heppelwhite," Figs. 9, 10, 11, and 13, Plate VII.) in order that the marked differences pointed out in preceding pages may be thoroughly understood and fully appreciated.

In the last chapter I have laid special stress upon the fact that, in the treatment of the bed-pillar, the designs of Heppelwhite were, in almost every instance, much less ornate than those of Sheraton, greater reliance being placed by the earlier designer upon graceful proportion and the careful dis­position of the various “members" of the turning, than upon elaboration of rich detail, either carved or inlaid; and a com­parison of the two sets of designs specified will prove the correctness of this statement. The pillar shown in Fig. 6 is for a “rich state bed. . . carved in white and gold"; while the instructions concerning Figs. 7 and 8 were that they were “ to be painted." The probability is, however, that if the designs were ever carried out, and possibly they were, plain mahogany was employed, simply carved, and without any other enrichment, such as painting, gilding, or mar­quetry. They, indeed, were not required. I am fully aware of the fact that the days of the old “four poster" have long since passed away; but some, though not many, of these old examples remain to us, though they are seldom to be met with in their entirety. In most cases they have been “ cut down,” as previously explained, in order that the pillars might be converted into decorative supports for the display of busts, statuettes, etc., or for the reception of lamps or candles, purposes which they serve exceedingly well, whether regarded from the utilitarian or decorative point of view.

In these three pillars it will be remarked that Sheraton was not disposed to let simple turning tell its own tale when circumstances permitted its embellishment by means of carving, gilding, or painting. Plain surfaces, instead of possessing a beauty of their own in his eyes, were regarded

simply as opportunities for enrichment of some kind or another.

It is clear that, about this time, the “ four-poster " had “ caught the decline," and was destined to give way before very long to structures of a less cumbersome, and certainly more healthy, description. This fact was fully recognised by Sheraton, and he made all preparations to be ready for the coming change in public taste. One alternative to the older type he provides by the design which is reproduced in Fig. 5, Plate VII., and which is “ Louis-Seize" in every particular, even to the pattern of the silken covering. Another will be found in Fig. 4 on the same plate. These two are described as “sofa beds"; and though the first closely resembles the ordinary wooden bedstead so far as general form is concerned, the second is certainly nothing more nor less than a glorified sofa, and could hardly be honestly recommended with any degree of confidence to our friends if a comfortable night’s repose were the end in view. The attempt to introduce such articles into common use was nevertheless made, and so must of necessity be recorded here.

Of Fig. 5 Sheraton wrote: “The frames are sometimes painted in ornaments to suit the furniture. But when the furniture is of rich silk they are done in white and gold and the ornaments carved. The drapery under the cornice is of the French kind, it is fringed all round, and laps on to each other like waves."

Finally, as regards what may strictly be described as bed­room furniture, Fig. i, Plate VIII., should be particularly noted, as it marks a most notable development in the arrangement of the wardrobe; one that has been perpetuated to the present time, and constitutes, as a matter of fact, the leading feature of that article of furniture as we know it to-day—that is to say, the “ hanging cupboard." We do not find it in Heppelwhite’s Book, and even Sheraton, as we see, introduced it rather as


Reference in Text


Подпись:Fig. i. See 192 „ 2, 3. ,, 195, 196

an experiment than anything else, fitting up the major portion of the upper part of his wardrobes with sliding shelves, as was then the accepted custom. The hooks provided are not of the ordinary type, but are double ones, working on a swivel, and depending from a wooden rod, the ends of which fall into metal sockets fitted into the sides of the cupboard to receive them. These rods may be removed at will. This arrangement has been improved upon since by the introduc­tion of swing “arms” and other arrangements, but it was quite a fresh innovation at the time of which I am writing.

It will doubtless have been observed that most of the “Sheraton” bedroom furniture with which we have, up to the present, dealt belongs to the more costly description ; and that it should be so could hardly be avoided, for more than one reason. These old makers and designers did not include many models of the cheaper class in their books, although of course they provided for their supply when called upon to do so; they preferred rather to rely upon their higher flights of fancy to attract attention to their work, and bring busi­ness to their establishments. Though cheap, and probably “nasty,” furniture was made in the so-called “good old days,” just as it is now, but not, of course, in such large quantities, little of it has survived to the present time ; to reproduce any such, therefore, from existing examples is altogether out of the question.

Fortunately for the reputation of those old craftsmen only the fittest of their work has survived; and it is not necessary to say that that fittest was not supplied at what the trade nowadays terms “cutting prices.” It was good, honest work, well paid for, and, as a natural consequence, has withstood the ravages of time, as, under ordinary circumstances, good, honest work generally will—unless carried out in fragile or perishable material.

On the other hand, none of the pieces illustrated here

would be beyond the means of the fairly “ well-to-do,” and,


considered as a whole, the types shown are really represen­tative of the furnishings of the average middle-class English home when George the Third was king. There are, how­ever, one or two models of a less costly, and more strictly utilitarian, type—designed more immediately for use than display—which we may consider in passing. They are models possessed of such indisputable advantages that one or two of them still continue to find a place in every well – appointed showroom, and sell quite as readily now as ever they did. Of these we may note the well-designed and sensible convenience for the bedroom portrayed in Fig. 6, Plate VIII.; the capital corner washstand, Fig. 9, Plate IX., of a type cultivated by Heppelwhite and Sheraton alike (see “ Heppelwhite,” Fig. 2, Plate V.), and of which thousands are still being manufactured ; another article of the same description, but on a scale rather more elaborate, Fig. 13, Plate IX.; and the two remaining washstands, Figs. 10 and 14, on the same plate, designed for office use. These are all simple in form, and comparatively inexpensive in character; nevertheless they possess the mark of this particular style so clearly impressed that there is small fear of their being mis­taken for anything other than pure u Sheraton."

Returning for a moment to the question of legs, we have noted that, in his chairs, Sheraton showed a decided prefer­ence for the round or turned leg, the characteristics of which we have duly studied ; but his preference was by no means the same—or, if it was, his designs do not indicate the fact— in the case of tables, sideboards, and other cabinet work requiring some support to raise them from the ground and keep them there. In some few instances of this kind, it is true, he did employ the turned leg, but the square or “ thurmed " tapered leg is more generally to be found in this class of article. Sometimes it was quite plain, and even then most graceful; sometimes fluted, and sometimes enriched with carved husks, leafage, and other detail, as illustrated on the




accompanying plates, and, drawn to a larger scale, in Figs. 3, 5, 6, and 7, Plate IX. A careful examination of these will convey far more to the student, in a very brief space of time, than the perusal of many pages of mere descriptive matter could possibly do, and lead to the acquisition of an absolutely accurate knowledge of the detail referred to in all its phases.

I have pointed out earlier in the chapter that the “ wiry,” finikin class of ornament, indulged in somewhat freely by Heppelwhite, found but small favour in the eyes of Sheraton, notwithstanding the fact that, in his own book, he gave evi­dence that he was not strong enough to resist altogether the temptation to try his hand occasionally at designing that sort of thing. For an instance of this I may refer to Fig. 12, Plate VII.; but the reader must make special note of the fact that this girandole was designed for execution in metal, and not in carved wood or stucco, so there can be no possible objection to it on the score of construction, as there was to not a few of Heppelwhite’s creations on similar lines. Care must be taken not to lose sight of this, or much that I have written in favour of the later designer may appear to be devoid of foundation.

The remaining illustrations which call for comment are few in number; they represent merely a couple of clock cases, and two designs for window draperies. About the middle of the eighteenth century the English cabinet maker commenced to turn his attention seriously to the development and beautification of that form of clock case which, in the course of time, and partly through the not always welcome vocalisations of youthful songsters, has come to be known as the “ Grandfather’s.” In the general form of the design of the woodwork, the structural conditions imposed by the clock maker render it impossible to bring about any very great vari­ation, and novelty of effect and grace of line, if they are to be secured, must be attained by the skilful arrangement of more or less unimportant parts and ornamental detail. From its

very shape, however, which cannot be departed from in any essential particular, the case of the “Grandfather’s” clock affords splendid opportunities for surface decoration, and it is here that the marquetry cutter and decorative painter are able to demonstrate their skill to the full. To enrich the large spaces of the front by means of carving would prove to be altogether too costly a business, save under the most excep­tional circumstances.

This was quite evident to Sheraton, who, when he had conceived as graceful a general form as he could, and intro­duced as much turning and carving as commercial consider­ations would permit, filled the panels with the daintiest schemes capable of being rendered in veneers, or by the brush. That he was most successful in this as in other directions is indicated by the two examples portrayed in Figs 2 and 3, Plate VIII ; the contour and enrichment of both are in every way worthy of the high reputation of their designer. It is impossible to accord them greater praise.

I might continue to illustrate, and comment upon, example after example of “ Sheraton but ample has been written and shown to convey a complete and absolutely correct impression of what the style under all its aspects really is; and the fur­ther multiplication of words and illustrations would serve no good purpose.

I must not, however, leave the consideration of “ The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book ” without brief reference to the first part of that work, upon which I have up to the present commented but little. It was Sheraton’s contention that every designer and maker of furniture should possess a thorough knowledge of geometry, perspective, and the “Five Orders”; he, therefore, devoted nearly three hundred pages of his great work to those subjects, discoursing upon them to his heart’s content, and, at the same time, lamenting the fact that few of his predecessors had adopted a similar course, and blaming them for not doing so.

But with this section we have little or nothing to do, save to place its existence on record, and regard it as yet one more proof of the rare thoroughness that characterised the oper­ations of this old master in the pursuit of any object that he may have had in view.

To sum up the style in as few words as possible. The reader will, I think, have come to the conclusion by this time that, in all Sheraton did in connection with the craft he loved so well, there is everything to praise, and little or nothing to call forth unfavourable criticism ; and this conclusion is, on the whole, a correct one. It is true that, towards the end of his career, when he was a broken-down old man, worn-out in mind and body alike, he published a series of supplemen­tary plates of designs which make it painfully apparent that, at the time of their publication, the over-wrought brain of this poor old artist, craftsman, preacher, theologian, and publisher had commenced to lose its balance, and the hand its cunning.

These consist, for the most part, of what can only be de­scribed as caricatures of the “ Empire,” which probably never were made up, and, fortunately, are never likely to be. But they must not be counted against him ; and, if they were brought up as evidence to counteract the effect of much that I have written, I should, in the capacity of counsel for the de­fence, put in the plea of “artistically unsound mind, the result of never-ceasing work and anxiety.” I should remark, further, that “ my client,” in a fit of aberration, or may be in response to an order which he dared not refuse, perpetrated a “ Prince of Wales’s Chinese Drawing-Room,” of which, however, he said but little, and we need say less. The only comment, in­deed, necessary upon it is, that evidence appears throughout that the designer’s heart was not in the work, and that he de­termined to give as small a flavouring of “Chinese” as possible. As a natural consequence the outcome is necessarily weak; and that is the worst that can be said about it. There are, at all

events, no “ Chippendale" extravagances there in the way of Pagoda-cum-Rococo.

We may, therefore, overlook these occasional divergences from the straight path, seeing that we have such overwhelming evidence of previous “good character"; and we may be per­mitted even to express surprise that, with a brain so pheno­menally active, fertile, and imaginative, such lapses were not far more numerous. Their absence proves conclusively that Sheraton did not regard the designing of household furniture as an art which anyone could take up with success on the spur of the moment; he understood that a long and special training was essential. It was here that his early and thorough drilling at the bench stood him in good stead ; but that alone did not satisfy him. He determined to master geometry, per­spective, drawing, and the principles of design, himself pur­suing the same course that he recommended to others. What was the result of it all? Simply that he became an authority in matters appertaining to the beautification of the home whom few in this or any other country have equalled.

Now that we have completed our study of the work of the three greatest eighteenth-century English designers of our household gods—Chippendale, Heppelwhite, and Sher­aton—and seen the part which each played in raising our national furniture to the pitch of excellence it had attained when the nineteenth century dawned, let us reconsider briefly the claim put forward, not by one advocate alone, but by many, that the period which elapsed between the years 1750 and 1800 should be regarded as “the Chippendale Period," and that everything produced during that time should come under the one generic title “ Chippendale." I hardly think that it is necessary for me to write much more upon that point. Earlier in the book I have protested, with all the emphasis in my power, against the perpetuation of any such absurd and unjust view ; but mere protest cannot be of much avail unless supported by ample proof to justify it. I have, there-



fore, done my best in the last hundred or more plates of illustrations and pages of text to present such justification as shall leave no loophole for those who entertain the opinion that the eighteenth century boasted but one great master of furniture design ; that that master was Chippendale; and that all his contemporaries and successors in the craft were but “ small fry," of not sufficient importance for their names to be recorded—men who did nothing but sit at the feet of the great “upholder" of St. Martin’s Lane, copy his ideas, and remain but humble disciples of the school which he founded.

That is, in brief, the creed of many; a creed whose demo­lition has been one of my aims in penning these pages, for I believe it to be pernicious and unjustifiable in every respect. A careful examination of the foregoing plates will reveal the fact that, in the work of Chippendale, infractions of the cardinal principles of good construction, the wilful ignoring of the conditions imposed by material, and fantastic extrava­gance are far too frequent to be ignored by the student. The creations of Heppelwhite and Sheraton, on the other hand, are nearly, if not wholly, free from any such faults. Above all things, let us accord honour freely where honour is due ; and let us, at the same time, overlook such faults as were not committed “with malice aforethought." When those faults are repeated again and again, and, further, “gloried in," it is time to draw the line. Chippendale did a vast amount of good work, as well as much that was indefensible, and we have meted out to him full credit for it. But of Heppelwhite and Sheraton it may be said that, in spile of many temptations to transgress in numerous ways, and in spite of the example of their erratic predecessor before them —whose popular success was in a large measure due to his extravagance and eccentricity—they never wearied in well­doing.

After reading the three preceding chapters, and before dismissing the subject of Georgeian types in order to pro­ceed to the consideration of those which come next on our

Подпись: EARLY GEORGEIAN CHAIR Подпись: (Of the cheaper class, with “Queen-Anne : baluster or “splat” in back) list, the reader will natu­rally wonder what was being done during the period with which we have just dealt by de­signers other than those whose names have been accorded prominence in these pages. It will be readily understood that Chippendale, Heppel – white, and Sheraton were not by any means the only men employed in designing and mak­ing furniture during the time of the Georges, and, on that account, some may assume that other distinct and his­toric styles may have risen in this country under the earlier rulers of the House of Hano­ver, and call for our attention ; but I may say at once that such is not the case.

We must, of course, recognise the fact that all the models which we now classify as “Chippendale,” “ Heppelwhite,” and “ Sheraton,” were not really the creations of the designers whose names they bear, but were either borrowed by them from contemporary makers—I am not referring now to the French inspiration already discussed at length — or were borrowed in part by contemporary makers from them.


Gf. orgeian Toilet-Glasses
(Of the “Heppelwhite” or “Sheraton” type in lower part, but revealing
“ Queen-Anne” influence in the shaping of the tops of mirror frames)

As the three designers of whom I have written so much brought together the scattered fragments of style, so to speak, harmonised them, and included them in their systems, their names have become associated with them, and, doubtless, will continue to be so associated until the end of the story. It would, therefore, serve but little purpose to analyse here, even did space permit, the designs of such men as Ince, May – hew, Lock, Manwaring, Hope, Johnson, and other contem-


Подпись: 202porary cabinet makers and chair makers, which resembled, in a greater or less degree, those we have studied. The names, however, of the men themselves, who helped to attain the end towards which the great trio were working, each in his own way, must needs be placed on record ; and a list of their principal publications is given at the end of this chapter for the information and guidance of those who desire to go further into the matter.

With so many brains active, many variations in style naturally occur, and it is my duty to refer briefly to some of them. As regards classification, we cannot do better than fall back upon the “heads” we already have in our minds. The chair illustrated in Fig. i, Plate I., is of a type common in the more modest homes of the “ Queen-Anne ” period, and was, by the way, selected more than once by Hogarth for presentation in his renderings of interiors of the humbler class. It is generally found with the plain wooden seat, with simpler turning in the legs, and sometimes without under­framing. The particular example shown looks rather like a more modern rendering of the original, but whether it is so or not I am unable to say with any degree of certainty, not having seen the piece itself. Fig. 2 may be classed either as late “Queen-Anne” or early “Chippendale,” for though the frame as a whole is in the former style, the “ splat ” in the back distinctly heralds the advent of the latter. Precisely the same remark applies to the back, Fig. 6, Plate II. Fig. 3, Plate I., is, of course, “Queen-Anne,” and we can fix its date pretty well, as it was the property of the great Hogarth himself ; but Fig. 4 carries us on to much later in the century. The arms and lower part of this are to all intents and purposes “Chippendale,” but the back has much of the grace, and all the delicacy, of “ Heppelwhite.” Most probably it was made somewhere between 1770 and 1790, or possibly earlier; the later estimate appears to me to be the more likely. We cannot go far wrong in describ-

mg Figs. 3, 4, 5, and 8, Plate II., as early “Chippendale,” for they are unmistakably in that style, though they are not from the pencil of that designer. Fig. 7 I should prefer to regard rather as early or inexpensive “ Heppehvhite," if a definite name must be attached to it. Fig. 9 is a rather curious and unusual study, for, while the greater part is “Chippendale," the graceful interlaced “splat" might have been the idea of either Heppehvhite or Sheraton, or of one of their followers. Fig. 1, Plate III., also has the “Heppel – white " feeling, while I need not say at this stage that Fig. 2 may be definitely and without fear of dispute classified under that heading. Fig. 3 is an exceptional example, of which it is impossible now to obtain the history; but it was evidently specially designed and made for some ceremonial purpose, and dates from about 1770 or 1780, as indicated by the tapered legs and form of the arms. With Fig. 4, and all the types on Plate IV., we come to clearly defined “Chippen­dale" again, though they are not taken from “The Gentle­man’s and Cabinet Maker’s Director." In Fig. 4 particularly we have a fine example of the clustered turned legs, to which I have previously referred as a characteristic of “Chippen­dale."

For permission to illustrate the fine old cylinder-fall “ secretary" shown overleaf, I am indebted to my brother, Mr. Julius Benn, from whose collection also comes the wall-mirror pictured on Plate II., “Jacobean." This “secre­tary” was probably made about the middle of the century; while the chair standing by it is, of course, early “Chip­pendale.”

Should an objection be raised on the part of anyone to the description by the names “Chippendale," “ Heppelwhite,” or “ Sheraton " of pieces which do not appear in the published works of the founders of those styles, or whose origin cannot be traced directly to them, the difficulty may easily be sur­mounted by employing the terms “Early Georgeian" or


Подпись: 204

Подпись: GEORGEIAN “SECRETARY” AND EARLY “CHIPPENDALE” CHAIR (See preceding page for reference)

“ Late Georgeian," as occasion may require ; and, indeed, in my opinion, in many cases it is far preferable to adopt that

course, though some people will not remain satisfied with it, demanding something more definite, even though not abso­lutely correct.




I have mentioned earlier in the book that the popularity of furniture enriched by dainty brush work—a popularity largely brought about by the example and advocacy of Heppelwhite and Sheraton—became so great that, for wealthy patrons, the services of leading painters of the day were requisitioned to add grace and charm to mahogany, and especially satinwood, furniture; and it is recorded that, among other artists of high repute, Angelica Kauff – mann and Giovanni Batista Cipriani, both of whom were mem­bers of the original “ thirty-six ” of the Royal Academy, were not above accepting such commissions.

Подпись:Of these two famous painters it is not neces­sary to say much here, as they shone more particularly in the field of fine art, though they turned their attention occasionally to the applied arts. I may, however, remind the reader that Angelica Kauffmann was the daughter of a Swiss artist, was born in 1742 and died in 1807, and that one of her greatest pictures—“ Religion attended by the Graces"—is now in the National Gallery. Cipriani—a Tuscan—was born at Potoja in 1727, pursued his studies in Florence, came to England, made his mark here, and had many of his works


Подпись: 20 6engraved by Bartolozzi. He died at Chelsea in 1785. Per – golesi, too, did considerable work of the same kind, as well as for interior decoration.

There is yet another feature associated with eighteenth – century furniture which must be mentioned, and that is lacquer as a decorative medium. The demand for this was, to

Подпись:a great extent, created by the importation into this country of Japanese and Chinese productions, in order to give “ local colour­ing" to the quasi­Oriental interiors planned by Sir William Chambers and others who worked on similar lines ; and it was em­ployed, though not very extensively, for the enrichment of cabinets and similar articles—chiefly in the form of imported panels. In the case of such small pieces of cabinet work as tea caddies, jewel caskets, and the like, gilt lac­quering—generally floral in design, but sometimes in diaper patterns—on a black or brown ground is often found ; while, in exceptional instances, most elaborate schemes were rendered in this medium, which was used also as a foundation for the choicest brush work. The greater part of this old lacquer which survives nowadays dates from the later Georgeian period.

Page See 209

203, 209


Fig. 6. See^202

7-9- ,, 203



Reference in Text

FlgS. 1,2. :> 3-5-


In fulfilment of my promise, given earlier in the chapter, to refer to eighteenth-century books other than those of Chip­pendale, Heppehvhite, and Sheraton, the following is a list which will, I am sure, be welcomed by a very large number of students. I may point out, too, that nearly all of them are to be found in the National Art Library at South Kensington.

“The Gentlemen’s or Builder’s Companion, contain­ing variety of usefull Designs for Doors, Gateways, Peers, Pavilions, Temples, Chimney Pieces, Slab Tables, Pier Glasses, or Tabernacle Frames, Ceiling Pieces, etc.” By William Jones, Architect. Published 1739. This contains a strange mixture of designs, from dignified architectural schemes of the heavy “Classic” order to caricatures of “Louis-Quinze” and “ Louis-Seize” pier-tables; together with a series of “ Classic ” mantels that are truly terrible. There are one or two mantels of a better type which may almost be regarded as early heralds of the coming of the “Adam ” style ; while some of the mirror frames shown are on the lines of that illustrated on page 89 of this book.

“Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent.” Published 1744. “ Classic ” mantels of the Palladian School; some attempts at designing on “Louis-Quatorze" lines—embracing an arm-chair, vases, urns, candle stands, dish covers, and ceilings; and a telling (!) illustration of “Merlin’s Cave in the Royal Gardens at Richmond.”

“A New Book of Ornaments, with Twelve Leaves”—it may be well to explain that it is the book which has the “twelve leaves”—“consisting of Chimney Sconces, Tables, Spandle Pannels, Spring Clock Cases, and Stands.” By M. Lock and H. Copland. Published 1752. Extreme Rococo throughout.

“A New Book of Ornaments.” By Angelo Rosis, Flor­entine. Published 1753. Vigorous and florid Italian schemes for the interior decorator. Plump cupids, “feather-bed ” clouds, heavy festoons and “ swags,” caryatides, atlantes, and the like.


“A New Book of Chinese Designs, calculated to im­prove the Present Taste, consisting of Figures, Buildings, and Furniture, Landskips, Birds, Beasts, Flowers, and Ornaments, etc.” By Edwards and Darly. Published 1754. As this book appeared in the same year as Chippendale’s, it is impossible to say which appropriated ideas from which, but there is certainly a remarkably strong resemblance between many of the “ Chinese ” conceits put forward by Messrs. Edwards and Darly and a number of those which appeared in “The Gen­tleman’s and Cabinet Maker’s Director.” Some of the lattices in particular are almost identical.

“A New Drawing Book of Ornaments, Shields, Com­partments, Masks, etc.” By M. Lock. Published about 1660­1670. Extreme Rococo.

“ One Hundred and Fifty New Designs.” By Thomas Johnson, carver. Published 1761. Ceilings, mantels, mirror and picture frames, clock cases, girandoles, brackets, etc., etc., in extreme Rococo. This was supplementary to a book of a similar character published by Johnson in 1758.

“The Universal System of Household Furniture, consisting of above three hundred Designs in the most Ele­gant Taste, both useful and ornamental.” By Ince and Mayhew, cabinet makers and upholsterers. Published 1762. The designs in this are, to all intents and purposes, “Chip­pendale,” and every phase of that style is represented by them.

“The Joiner’s and Cabinet Maker’s Darling. Sixty Designs for Ornamental Frets.” By J. Crunden. Published і7б5-і78б-і79б.

“Genteel Household Furniture, by a Society of Upholsterers.” Published about 1765-1770. More “Chip­pendale.”

“The Cabinet and Chair-Maker’s Real Friend and Companion, or the whole System of Chair Making made plain and easy.” By Robert Manwaring, cabinet maker.


Reference in Text. See page 203

Published 1765. Very much on “ Chippendale " lines. Man – waring, however, cultivated apparent interlacing very greatly in a large number of his chair backs, of the description indi­cated by Figs. 3, 4, 5, Plate II. He also attempted to introduce a “New Art” based on Nature, as in Figs. 1 and 2, Plate II., described as “Very curious and beautiful designs of rural chairs. . . the only ones of the kind that were ever published.” Would that they had been!

“The Chair-Maker’s Guide, being upwards of two – hundred New and Genteel Designs, both decorative and plain, of all the most approved patterns for Gothic, Chinese, Ribbon, and other Chairs, Couches, Settees, Burjairs, French, Dressing, and Corner Stools.” By Robert Manwaring and Others. Published 1766. The designs in this are of the same char­acter as those in Manwaring’s first book.

“Book of Ornaments, Stucco, Carving Ceilings, Picture Frames, etc.” By M. Darly. Published 1769. The schemes here indicate clearly that the refinement of “ Heppelwhite,” “ Sheraton,” and “ Adam ” was very rapidly ousting “ French,” “Chinese,” and “,Gothick” extravagances from popular favour.

“A New Book of Ornaments, containing a variety of Elegant Designs for Modern Pannels, commonly executed in Stucco, Wood, or Painting, and used in decorating Principal Rooms.” By Placido Columbani. Published 1775.

“A Variety of Capitals, Freezes {stc), and Corniches, and how to increase or decrease them, still retaining the same proportion as the original. Likewise twelve Designs for Chimney Pieces. . . the whole consisting of twelve plates.” By P. Columbani. Published 1776.

“A Book of Designs.” By Michel Angelo Pergolesi. Published 1777.

The above-named three books, by Columbani and Per­golesi, constitute a veritable store of the daintiest, most refined, and most characteristic detail, such as did much to make “Heppelwhite,” “Sheraton,” and “Adam” what they



were. A careful examination of these works aids us greatly in judging the extent to which artists and craftsmen whose names have become household words with us were indebted to contemporaries of whom we seldom, if ever, hear.

“A New Collection of Chimney Pieces, ornamented in the Style of the Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Architecture." By George Richardson, Architect. Published 1781. Here we find “Adam” in its purest and most desirable phases. The renowned brothers produced nothing better than, and much which cannot be compared with, George Richardson’s designs.

“Designs of Household Furniture.” By T. Shearer. Published 1788. All these designs may safely be classed under our “Sheraton” heading so far as nomenclature is concerned.

“The Complete Modern Joiner, or a Collection of Original Designs, in the Present Taste, for Chimney Pieces, and Door Cases.” By N. Wallis, Architect. Published 1792. Refined renderings of “ Heppelwhite,” “Sheraton,” and “Adam.”

“The Cabinet-Makers’ London Book of Prices, and Designs of Cabinet Work.” Printed for the London Society of Cabinet Makers, by W. Brown and A. O’Neil. Second Edition 1793. This book constitutes striking testi­mony to the extent to which “Chippendale” had been super­seded by “ Heppelwhite” and “Sheraton,” and that, too within a comparatively brief period.

The remaining works (with but one exception) are, to my story, what Zola’s “La Debdcle" is to his Rougon-Macquart Series. Would the reader wish to see the depths to which the art of the furnisher fell during the earlier years of the nine­teenth century, he cannot do better than study them care­fully.

“A Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, in the most approved and

Reference in Text. See page 203

Elegant Taste.” By George Smith, Upholder Extraordinary to the Prince of Wales. (!) Published 1808. This is dedicated to “His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, . . . who has so liberally employed his elegant fancy and acknowledged good taste in promoting this noble pursuit after Classic originals; and the elegant display of superior virtA exhibited in his palaces in Pall Mall and at Brighton.”

“The Upholsterers’ and Cabinet-Makers’ Pocket Assistant.” By John Taylor. About 1810-1820.

“Original and Novel Designs for Decorative House­hold Furniture.” By J. Taylor. About 1810-1820 or 1830.

“The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide. By George Smith, Upholsterer and Furniture Draughtsman to His Majesty ; Principal of the Drawing Academy, Brewer Street, Golden Square; and author of various works on the Arts of Design and Decoration.” Published 1826.

“A Useful and Modern Work on Cheval and Pole Screens, Ottomans, Chairs, and Settees, for mounting Berlin Needlework,”—the italics are my own—“by Henry Wood, Decorative Artist and Draughtsman.” (Undated.) The mere recollection of them all is sufficient to induce a shudder.

I have mentioned that there was one exception, and that is a work entitled “Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, executed from Designs by Thomas Hope,” which was published in 1807. Hope was evidently a very severe critic, for, speaking of articles of furniture generally, as designed by Chippendale, Heppelwhite, Sheraton, and their contemporaries, he said : “Almost every one of these articles, however, abandoned, till very lately, in this country to the taste of the sole upholder, entirely ignorant of the most familiar principles of visible beauty, wholly uninstructed in the simplest rudiments of drawing ”—poor old Sheraton!— “or, at most, only fraught with a few wretched ideas and trivial conceits borrowed from the worst models of the degraded French School of the middle of the last century,


was left totally destitute of those attributes of true elegance and beauty, which, though secondary, are yet of such import­ance to the extension of our national pleasures”—and so forth for many pages. To remedy this, he endeavoured to transplant the severe refinement of the old Greek and Roman palaces at their best into the English home, and, as a natural result, he failed utterly and completely in his attempt. Some few—very few—of his simpler designs for chairs did “live” for a time, but the vast majority were either too costly in execution to gain popularity, or were altogether out of keep­ing with our national ideas of domestic comfort. We must admit, however, that the taste displayed throughout the work is of a very high order.

There are other books which might be mentioned, did space permit, but they are not of importance, and those named constitute as exhaustive a list as one need desire.

Reference in Text. See pages 213-215

“ ADAM ”

Towards the close of the eighteenth century, when extensive building operations were in course of procedure over that area in London which is now commonly known as the Adelphi, and which, I need hardly say, is situated on the north bank of the Thames, not far from Charing Cross, a quatrain was written to the following effect :—

“ ‘Two brothers of the name of Adam,

Who keep their coaches and their mesdames ’

—Quoth John, in surly mood, to Thomas—

‘ Have stol’n the very river from us! ’ ”

The lines referred, of course, to the erection of those quasi-classic edifices which were then being completed after the designs of the two architects who flourished during the reign of George the Third, and afterwards became known as the “ Adelphian Brothers.”

The elder of the two—Robert Adam—was born at Kirk­caldy in 1728. Having passed through the usual experiences associated with the average childhood, he commenced his studies in architecture, and elected to spend some years in Italy in order that he might imbibe his knowledge from the fountain-head. On his return to England, he joined hands with his brother James. In 1768—before he was forty— he was appointed “ Architect to the King,” entered Parlia­ment, won popular favour by the character of his rendering of the Classic, died in 1792, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

It will be seen, therefore, that the brothers Adam were at work on the production of their designs during the period when “Chippendale,” “ Heppelwhite,” and “Sheraton” were


at the highest pitch of development; and by reason of the fact that they were responsible for the plans of many of the more important buildings furnished on the lines laid down by the originators of those three styles, they have received a great amount of credit to which they were never in the least entitled. What they really earned should suffice. Although they made some slight essays in the designing of furniture, these architects, as a matter of fact, exerted but small direct influence upon English furniture proper, notwithstanding the fact that their name is so frequently quoted in connection with it. The marks which they did leave upon the interior of our homes were, for the most part, in the way of stucco wall and ceiling decoration, and mantelpieces — of which they designed a vast number.

Their preferences were for the lighter and daintier phases of the Classic, and they delighted more in the effeminate conceits of the “ Pompeian ” than in the dignified grandeur of the “ Palladian ” school. The result was that they produced a style in architecture that depends largely on delicate stucco detail for its effect; and which, while generally refined in character, is certainly lacking in dignity. But of architecture as such it is not in my province to write here, and I must be content with giving a mere note or two upon the “Adam” interior which forms the subject of the accompanying plate, and which embraces many of the chief characteristics of the style in question.

As I have already mentioned, “ Adam ” mantels are very numerous, but all are more or less of the type illustrated, as regards the character of the detail with which they are enriched, though the majority were not so crowded with ornamentation. The mouldings are invariably of the simplest and purest classic order, the “dentil,” “egg-and-tongue,” and acanthus types being freely introduced. The cinerary vase and urn were favourite details, and were generally accom­panied by delicate “swags,” or festoons of drapery, leaves,

TYPICAL “ADAM" DETAIL. (See pages 213-215)

“ADAM” 215

or “husks.” Acanthus scrolls and chimerical creatures also are characteristic of the style (see the mantel illustrated), but the foliations are of the lighter, almost wiry, description, rather than of the heavier “ Roman ” school; while the creatures themselves generally look as if they would be none the worse for a good hearty meal.

Another typical feature is the “ fan,” disposed either in an oval, or employed to enrich corner spaces in the form of a spandril—“ spandle ” it was often styled in those old times. The “ flute,” both plain and “ stopped,” is of frequent occurrence; garlands and wreaths are plentiful, and it is not at all uncommon to find Wedgwood “Jasper” medallions framed-in amidst such enrichment. “But,” the reader may exclaim, “most of the details enumerated are to be found in ‘ Sheraton.’ ” Precisely so, and it naturally follows that “ Sheraton,” and even “ Heppelwhite,” furniture is the very thing to accord with “Adam” decoration. The grand piano designed by the brothers Adam, which is illus­trated herewith, can hardly be described as a triumph from the furniture designer’s point of view; but the design was published in the Adams’ book, and so finds a place here.

There can be no doubt at all that there is a certain delicate charm associated with the best phases of the “Adam” style; but we are never impressed by it, and in its presence we are more than a little tempted to fall into the phraseology of the ladies’ penny paper, and exclaim “ How sweetly pretty! ”

The brief discussion of the few French styles with which I have elected to deal in these pages must be prefaced by a word or two of explanation, which, I sincerely trust, will be most carefully read and noted by all who may be disposed to regard my endeavours from the critical point of view. It has been explained fully in the introduction that, in preparing this chapter and the three which follow, it has not for one moment been my intention to attempt to present anything in the least approaching a full and complete history of the French work we are now about to pass in review; to do so within the comparatively narrow limits imposed is altogether out of the question. Indeed, to each individual style many volumes might be, nay, have been, devoted by other and more able writers, with whose productions I do not propose to enter into competition.

The introduction of French work at all in a treatise the main object of which is to convey a knowledge of style in English furniture may at the first glance appear to be out of place—at least to those who have not already made a study of the subject—and calls for some explanation ; but that it is essential to the proper carrying out of my purpose, a perusal of these pages will plainly show. It must be understood, therefore, that the student whose requirements demand an exhaustive analysis and history of French cabinet work of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries, must by no means look for it here. Of books to furnish him with all the information he may require there is already an embarras de choix. French writers generally, and historians particularly, have delighted to do honour to their great artists


and craftsmen of all ages, sparing neither pains nor expense to place on record, in a form worthy of them, the wondrous story of the greatest achievements of those old workers. It is not my intention, at the present time at all events, to follow the example of these chroniclers, except in a very modest way, and, as I have already explained, so far only as may be essential to the attainment of the particular object I have in view. That object, I think, must have become apparent by this time.

In the preceding chapters, the plan adopted has not been to give merely a simple description of the models presented just as they stand, and no more ; but it has been my constant endeavour, in all cases, to probe far more deeply into the question, to show the origin, growth, and final development of each particular style, and, as far as possible, to give its genealogical tree. In following my attempt to do this, it cannot but have become apparent to the reader that, just as in the domain of millinery and dress generally we have, as a nation, been guided for generations by the French, have noted even the slightest changes of fashion in the Gay Capital and seized with avidity upon the modes created there; so, in the furnishing and beautifying of our homes, we have never hesitated to draw, and draw most freely, our inspiration from the creations of the cbhtistes and tapissiers of France. We have not, it is true, indulged this propensity fully during recent years; but, as has been made clearly evident, we certainly did so, and with a very grasping hand, in past centuries, and most particularly during the eighteenth. It has naturally followed, that in the chapters treating on the work of the great English cabinet makers of the last-named period, references to the “ Louis-Quatorze,” the “ Louis- Quinze," and the “ Louis-Seize,” have frequently recurred. We have been forced to acknowledge that the most im­portant phases of our “Chippendale,” “ Heppelwhite,” and “ Sheraton,” were inspired to a great extent by them. This

being the case, it occurred to me that something more than a mere descriptive reference to these French modes was re­quired in order to render my scheme complete. I decided, therefore, that it would be in every respect desirable to include here brief illustrated summaries of their chief characteristics.

The foregoing explanation is somewhat lengthy, and may savour of “ protesting too much ” ; my only excuse for its appearance must be my great anxiety that the reader should understand clearly that the present treatment of the styles in question has been planned simply and purely in order to place before those who peruse these pages some of the actual models which our old English cabinet makers and designers had in view when they originated the modes since designated by their names.

It is, however, desirable, even in so brief a review of the styles as will appear here, to recall to mind certain political and social conditions under which they developed, and by which they were, in a greater or less degree, influenced. By so doing the presence of many features may be reasonably accounted for, features whose appearance might otherwise be regarded as a mere accident, with the result that their true significance would be ignored. What, then, was the condition of affairs in France when the “ Louis-Quatorze" was growing towards its fullest development? Let us review it as briefly as we can.

It must be recognised that, in essaying to give any account of the progress of the arts and crafts which spread from France to other countries during the reign of Louis the Fourteenth—a progress, be it remembered, which was in a great degree directly due to his encouragement, and was fostered by his ministers and the members of his court—the boldest writer may well be beset with diffidence.

The period was one of unsurpassed splendour and ex­traordinary activity in all departments of artistic endeavour.

The reign was, above all things, spectacular; and, according to one of the greatest French writers : “The brilliant dis­

play . . . afforded some compensation in those times, thanks to the kindly feelings of the people and to the traditions of deep devotion to their sovereigns, for the enormous expenses charged upon the taxes. Mazarin had said * Let them sing, provided they pay ’; while Louis XIV.’s remark was ‘ Let them look.’ Sight had replaced the voice ; the people could still look, but they could no longer sing.”

This monarch was no ordinary man. Moreover, when he attained to years of discretion, and saw a possibility of ordering everything as he wished, he was fortunate in having at his beck and call men of phenomenal mental calibre and physical energy to carry out the gigantic schemes that had long been fructifying in his brain—and to supplement them by others of their own creation. The whole tenor of this sovereign’s reign, from the moment when he assumed supreme command, illustrates most powerfully the law of reaction. As a child he was brought up under the strictest discipline, per­petually subject to the surveillance of the severest “tutors and governors ” ; furthermore, if we are told aright, through the parsimony of Mazarin, he was kept in a state of comparative poverty—poverty at least for a destined ruler of France. That cordially detested Italian was for a long time practically the head of the State, and undoubtedly possessed the ear of the Queen Mother, the haughty Anne of Austria, whether the belief entertained in some quarters that the two were actually husband and wife has any foundation in fact or not.

The spirit of the young King, nevertheless, was by no means crushed; on the contrary, it was developed and hardened. He bided his time in patience; formulating and pondering over his plans for the future. When the long wished for removal of the Prime Minister was brought about by the hand of death, Louis proved himself to be a man of iron, filled with a fixed determination to reign alone and absolutely

supreme; disposed to brook not the slightest suggestion of interference with his wishes from anybody, and jealous of obedience and admiration, not to say adulation, from the whole of the civilised world.

The pendulum swung from one extreme to the other, and everything was done on a lavish scale. Louis had planned a reign which should dazzle by its splendour, and past experi­ence had taught him that this was not to be attained by miserly niggardliness. “ Leakages ” of State monies were discovered and stopped; the Surintendant Fouquet himself was condemned to banishment for peculation ; and with the demolition of the powers of the financiers and farmers of the revenue, who were either dismissed or hanged, the royal coffers were filled again to overflowing, and a new era com­menced. What an era it was which brought to light such men as Conde, Turenne, and Vauban ; Colbert and Louvois; Corneille, Racine, Moliere, La Fontaine, Boileau, Bossuet, Fendlon, Le Brun, and Perrault—to name but a few of its master minds! The only emblem of which Louis could think, in order fitly to symbolise the brilliance of the intel­lectual and material environment which was to distinguish his reign, was the sun itself, with resplendent rays darting from it, and accompanied by the legend u Nec tluribus impar ” And “ Le Roi Soleil ” he became.

In writing of the encouragement of the arts in France at this time, we must not omit the name of Colbert, who was bequeathed, as it were, by Mazarin to the king as a most valuable possession ; which he indeed proved to be. He saw that financial encouragement was liberally accorded to anyone whose services would either benefit the State or tend to render the epoch more magnificent. There were other and most important factors also to be borne in mind, though perhaps, from the point of view of strict morality, we might prefer to ignore them. It has been contended, however, that there is no morality in art. Be that as it may, certain it is

that, at more than one epoch, the cultivation of the Beautiful was the most lavishly generous, and therefore bore the richest fruit, under the most immoral influences. How, indeed, does the development of the “ Louis-Quatorze ” and, for the matter of that, the development of all the French art of those days stand when regarded in this light? Was it, for example, for the lawful queens of the sovereigns of France that the greatest poets, painters, musicians, and artists of every class and kind vied one with another to produce masterpiece after master­piece, or was it for the Vallieres, Maintenons, Du Barrys, and the like? Can there be any two opinions in the matter? The lawful wives were bound to their sovereigns by the strongest legal ties, but the good graces of the “ left-hand queens" were only to be won and retained by the most lavish gifts, and the tireless studying and satisfying of their whims and fancies. Is it not much to be feared that the truly wedded spouse had often, metaphorically, to rest con­tent with Sully Prudhomme’s “verve epaisse," while the usurper of her rightful position held her court amidst untold magnificence ; was fawned upon and flattered by the highest in the land, whose favour at court often depended upon their paying such homage, whether it was to their taste or not; and enjoyed her draughts, while her sway lasted, from the “goblet de cristal” ? So at least it is recorded, and we must accept the facts as they are presented to us. These French monarchs were constantly striving to surround the objects of their choice with every comfort and luxury ; and among those who benefited thereby the furnisher naturally figured prominently, for was it not by him that the surroundings of the royal favourites had to be rendered beautiful?

An interesting point in relation to this aspect of affairs has been emphasised by Lady Dilke. I refer to the great contrast between the rare taste almost invariably displayed of old in the artistic gems created in honour of those who were queens by favour, and the taste of those designed as gifts for even

the most exalted of lawful sovereigns of more modern times. As an illustration calculated to place this point in its most forcible light, the Jubilee presents of the late Queen Victoria are quoted, and, as may be imagined, the comparisons drawn are by no means to their credit. Intrinsically they were, of course, of almost fabulous value, but as works of art it would perhaps be more kind to say nothing further about them. What can be said in their praise? But that is a matter which does not call for discussion here, though the question itself that is raised is rather curious and interesting, and fully worth noting in passing.

The query naturally arises, what was the secret of the attainment of so high a standard by the artists and craftsmen of France under the rule of Louis the Fourteenth? I am more than a little disposed to claim that direct, generous, energetic, and, above all, wisely-directed State patronage was mainly responsible for it all, or, at least, for the “lion’s share.” The artist or craftsman of those days who distinguished him­self in any way was certain, at the very least, of a living, and possibly a fortune if he managed his affairs wisely. If he attained the “ blue riband ” of his art or craft, an appartement au Louvre, he was indeed to be envied. We cannot but recog­nise the fact, from whatever point of view we regard it, that the institution of these State ateliers—one of Colbert’s many ideas—where the workers were placed under the immediate patronage of the sovereign, was a master stroke. It is quite possible, of course, that working in particular and duly specified grooves, in order to “ tickle the tastes and please the fads” of the powers that were, may have tended in some degree to curb the artistic aspirations and stunt the originality; but, nevertheless, rare advantages compensated for any temporary harm which may have accrued in that respect. For one thing, the position of the occupants of the appartements was officially recognised by the State ; they were, in fact, quite distinguished personages in their way, and apart altogether from the honour

and glory, their “bread-and-butter ” was more than sure, while, to most of them fell the “plums” of their profession or craft.

The foregoing is a brief statement of the ruling conditions under which the “ Louis-Quatorze" flourished, and, having glanced at them, we must now proceed to see, so far as space will permit, what the style ultimately became, and to what extent it furnished inspiration for our own designers and craftsmen.

It is extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible, to lay down a set of rules or give specified definitions that will enable the student to distinguish immediately and with perfect exactitude between late seventeenth and early eighteenth century French work. The different styles overlap, or rather blend at times with one another to such a degree that to classify them and apportion each of them to its respective period with exactitude is a task which calls for more than a mere superficial knowledge if success is to be gained. When we come to the “ Louis-Seize ” and “ Empire ” the difficulty is lessened, by reasons which will be explained later.

It will be remembered that the reign of Louis the Four­teenth was one of exceptional duration, lasting for over seventy years. As was only natural, during that period many changes and developments took place in fashion of furniture as in other matters, though they were neither so very great nor so revolutionary as might have been expected. It was, however, only the later phases which influenced the eighteenth – century English designer to any appreciable extent—that is to say, the phases immediately preceding the advent of the “ Louis-Quinze.” It is those, therefore, that concern us.

Before commencing my review of the chief characteristics of the “Louis-Quatorze” as a style, it may be as well to take a brief glance at one of the most notable of the workers in the appartements; at a man who rose to pre-eminence from

the ranks of the designers and craftsmen of his time, and played a leading part in making the mode what it eventually became. I refer to Andre-Charles Boulle. Most people who know anything at all of seventeenth-century French furni­ture, and many who do not, speak glibly of “ Buhl ”; and though they could not, for the life of them, tell what it is, they know that it is something rare and costly. Even Oliver Wendell Holmes himself, that man of culture rare, in his delicious little conceit “ Contentment," protests :—

“ Shall not a few carved tables serve my turn?

But they must be of ‘ Buhl ’ ”

—a flagrant error, of course. We shall do well, then, to see that there is no misunderstanding in our minds as regards the nature of the furniture whose beauties caused the name of their designer and maker to be handed down with such honour to posterity. As this furniture constituted a leading feature in the household gods of the “ Louis-Quatorze," we shall not have to go out of our way for the purpose.

Andre-Charles Boulle was born in 1642, and lived to a ripe old age, for we find him still working eighty years later. His record throughout was a remarkably exceptional one. In addition to conceiving and executing his own numerous masterpieces, many of which, I need hardly say, still stand unrivalled, Boulle trained such men as Levasseur, Montigny, Oeben, and Jacob—to mention but one or two—as well as his four sons, Jean-Phillipe, Charles-Joseph, Pierre – Benoit, and Andr6-Charles the younger, who, in their turn, made their way to positions of eminence, and not only gave practical demonstration of the possession of exceptional genius, but still further enhanced the reputation of their great progenitor and master.

It was not until 1672 that Boulle (the father) attained to what was the height of ambition to so many of his fellows, the greatly coveted appar/ement an Louvre. He was only thirty

years of age at the time ; but, it seems hardly necessary to say that, though still a young man, he had even then excelled in his profession and craft, for he would not have been the recipient of so notable a mark of royal approbation had he been nothing more than an average designer or craftsman. When the application for the bestowal of the honour was made by him, or on his behalf by eminent patrons who fully appreciated his genius, Colbert submitted it to the king; but the settlement of the matter was left practically in the hands of the minister, for, on the document presented to his Majesty, bearing a note of the application, appears the in­scription in the royal handwriting—“ Les appartements an plus habile

Colbert was not the type of man to let the appartements pass into the possession of mere place-seekers, and it may be taken for granted that had anyone been able to present stronger claims than those of Boulle they would have been considered first. It was ever the great Intendant’s aim to secure, at any cost, the right man for the right place, and it may be recorded to his lasting credit that he almost invariably managed to attain his object.

It is generally imagined that Boulle was the originator of, and confined his attention to the production of, that class of furniture which is enriched by the incrustation of tortoise­shell, brass, copper, and tin in the form of inlay, and which has come to bear his name—though it is, more often than not, spelt “Buhl” by most English writers; but that idea is very far from correct. In the first place, inlaid, or incrusted, furniture of the description referred to was known long before 1672, for, to quote but two instances that go to prove its prior existence, an inventory of some of Mazarin’s trea­sures, dated 1653, includes details of cabinets ornamented with tortoiseshell and copper ; and secondly, a cabinet in the Миэёе Cluny, at Paris, dating from the sixteenth century, is similarly enriched. These show beyond a doubt that metal


incrustation of this particular class was well known, though not, of course, common, long before the appearance of the Boulles. The Boulles, however, and And^-Charles the father, above all, did much to develop this treatment and bring it to the state of technical perfection which it attained at the commencement of the seventeenth century. As I have said, they produced triumphs of their craft which have never been surpassed, though how many times they have been reproduced it is impossible to say.

The type of marquetry referred to is, of course, well known to collectors and connoisseurs the world over; but for the information of the general reader it may perhaps be as well if I quote Molinier’s lucid description of the way in which it is prepared. That writer says : “ Sheets of full size and thickness are prepared of materials selected—copper, tin, ebony, and shell; these sheets are glued together and cut into a given pattern. This done, when the sheets are de­tached, one has in hand—should copper and inlaying tortoise­shell have been employed—two decorative patterns, and two grounds for inlaying—that is to say, the sheets of shell or copper out of which the patterns have been cut. The next step is to insert copper patterns in the shell ground and the shell patterns in the copper ground. Two panels are thus obtained, totally different in aspect, but absolutely alike in pattern.”

But Boulle was something more than merely a great master marquetcur. Indeed, in his time he was officially described as “ architecte, pcintrc, et scalptre en mosaique, ebdniste, ciseleur, et marqueteur ordinaire du roy," and there can be no possible doubt that he was as true an artist by nature as he was master of the tools essential to the practice of his craft. To such an extent was this the case that the acquisition and retention of money appear to have been regarded by him as quite secondary considerations, so that, extensive and distin­guished as was the patronage he commanded, he never made

what is called a commercial success. Whatever he received by way of remuneration, instead of being devoted to the liquidation of his debts, was spent, some would say squan­dered, in the collection of rare art treasures, which never afterwards realised what he originally gave for them. The result was that in the end he died in absolute penury, having been hounded hither and thither by infuriated and unsym­pathetic creditors.

I must not be tempted, however, to go into further biographical details concerning him; indeed, I should not have entered at so great length into the story of the Louis the Fourteenth epoch had it not been that during this period the impetus was given which led to the creation of those French styles which followed, constituting a veritable Renaissance in themselves—a Renaissance to which we owe so much.

With regard to the models that appear upon the three plates accompanying these notes, we will first examine two examples of the famous “ Boulle ” before proceeding to others, and gain as adequate an idea of the form and appearance of furniture of that type as can be obtained from black-and-white illustration. What is, perhaps, one of the finest pieces ever produced appears in the magnificent armoire, shown in Fig. i, Plate I.; apart from its design, it is a veritable masterpiece of craftsmanship. Every detail of the surface enrichment, be it remembered, was cut in brass, copper, tin, or tortoiseshell, and the whole was pieced together with almost microscopic exactitude, and supplemented by exquisitely moulded and chased brass mounts, which in themselves must have cost a small fortune to produce. The design of the inlay, as will be observed, was by no means as simple as might reasonably have been expected, if we bear in mind the materials of which it was composed and the method of its production ; on the contrary, it is more than a little intricate, being crowded with detail of a very free and flowing description, and foliated scrolls play a most important part in it. Attractive as it is in

the sketch, in the original itself, glowing with the fine colour­ing of rare tortoiseshell, and relieved by the varied and shimmering tones of copper, brass, and tin, it possesses a richness of effect which altogether baffles description.

Another rare piece of “Boulle” will be found in the writing-table on Plate III., which is exceptionally graceful in form for the period, and most tastefully enriched in the manner described. Many more examples might be intro­duced, but their appearance here is not necessary, for, when the class of incrustation has once been seen, or a full descrip­tion of it has been given, the work can never be mistaken. Before leaving the subject, I may, however, mention that the “ carcase work ” or foundation of “ Boulle " is nearly always comparatively simple in form. This was essential, since the intricate enrichment with which it was destined to be covered was not amenable to being twisted into elaborate or tortuous shapes.

It is impossible to write, however briefly, of the French furniture of this period without paying some attention to the development of metal work other than “Boulle" as a de­corative medium, since the fondeurs and ciseleurs then occupied a position almost as high as that of the dbeniste himself, and were paid munificently for the invaluable aid they afforded the wood worker. It would take long to tell of all that was done by that band of men leading up to Gouthi£re who made the metal work of the period what it was; and it is not my privilege to do so here. I must, however, emphasise the fact that they are not for one moment to be confounded with the mere skilled mechanic who presides at the forge, mould, and melting pot in order to see that other men’s ideas are properly carried into effect; or with the simple engraver who puts the finishing touches on work already prepared for him. No, they were of a stamp vastly different from that.

They were rarely gifted artists first and craftsmen after­wards, and they only took the trouble to gain a complete

Reference in Text


Fig. i. See 227, 230 ■. 2. ,, 231, 232

mastery over tool, method, and material in order that the fancies of their brain might be translated into concrete form in the exact way they wished ; they could not entrust their interpretation to other hands. Full advantage, moreover, was taken of their powers and services, and there need be small wonder that such should have been the case, for they created and produced the daintiest and most charming con­ceits in metal, and particularly in brass. By the force of their genius and skill, they seemed to inspire it with very life, and we may congratulate ourselves most heartily that they were prepared to work hand in hand with the cabinet maker, and bring their ideas into conformity with his requirements, deeming it not beneath their dignity to devote the best of their endeavours and abilities to the beautification of the common surroundings of daily life. Chefs d’oeuvre in model­ling that would now be highly prized, cherished, and proudly displayed as choice works of art in themselves, calling for no other accompaniment to entitle them to positions of honour in any art collection, were then used merely as “mounts” or ornaments, for the ostensible support of a table top, or to decorate the “knee" of a chair leg; and all were characterised by a verve and spontaneity which irre­sistibly charm us to this very day.

It should be noted particularly that one of the greatest charms of these brass or ormolu mounts consisted in the frequent introduction of the human head—usually the female head—not conventionalised, nor stiffly posed, as at earlier and later periods, but instinct with all that entrancing grace and abandon which the French pre-eminently always have imparted, and perhaps always will impart, to their modelling and sculpture of the human form.

This ormolu, furthermore, even when regarded from the technical point of view, and if the question of its design be for the moment put aside, attained as near perfection as was possible. It was not the average “puddingy,” lifeless casting

of modern commerce ; it glowed, sparkled, and scintillated, fresh from the hand of the master, seeming to proclaim in unmistakable accents, 11 my creation was a labour of love.” And why was this? Simply because the execution was entrusted to the most gifted artist-craftsmen that could be found, and because when found they were munificently paid. The price of a single mount, in many instances, would be ample to furnish completely and comfortably many an ordinary house nowadays. We cannot, therefore, institute a comparison between such work and the stock brass mounts of to-day, which are produced according to a stipulated and by no means too generous price, and sold over the wholesale iron­monger’s counter at so much “per set.” The comparison would not be fair. It is only just, indeed, to say that, even in these so-called degenerate times, French ormolu, as fine as any ever produced even in the palmiest days, can easily be obtained by those who are in a position, and prepared, to pay for it.

Justice cannot possibly be done by mere pen-and-ink sketches to many of these old masterpieces of the metal worker’s craft, but their form and character can be indicated by such means, and with that we must, for the time being, rest content.

I will ask the reader, then, to note the massive foliated mounts, with the female head and lion’s paws, that apparently support the centre projection in the armoire, Fig. i, Plate I.; also the figure of the king in old classic garb, and the military trophy above. These are designed after the dignified martial manner common to much “ Louis-Quatorze ” decoration, and intended to symbolise the military prowess of the monarch, to curry whose approbation and favour it was conceived. There was more than a suggestion of the old “ Roman ” about it all, a characteristic which later on developed to a remarkable degree in the “ Empire," as we shall see in a succeeding chapter.

The mounts on the table, Fig. 2, Plate I., are of quite a different character, and belong to a later date, heralding the imminent advent of the “ Louis-Quinze " ; those of the table, Fig. 2, Plate II., carry us back to an intermediate stage, and recall, in some measure, the heavy classic style. The scrolls of the table legs, Fig. 6, Plate II., also are heavily mounted with brass leafage, and the band of enrichment round the circular top is of the choicest “ Boulle.” The general form of this table seems to indicate that the piece belongs to a date later than that of the “ Louis-Quatorze,” but it is stated on good French authority to be an authentic example. We see in it, at all events, the model that inspired the design of many thousands of English centre tables a century or more later.

The elaborate table shown in Fig. 6, Plate I., is also a late example, and marks the commencement of the growth of that tendency to overdo ornamentation, and supersede the con­structional by the decorative, which spread so alarmingly in the culminating phases of the succeeding style. This model cannot actually be described as “ Louis-Quinze,” but it approaches very near to it.

A word or two regarding the chairs and seats, and the justification for their appearance here. The reader who studies these types carefully, and examines their forms and detail, will discover in them the source whence were drawn the ideas that led to the creation of not a few later English “Jacobean” forms. Let me particularise a few instances.

The shape of the chair-arm mostly favoured by the Stuart maker, as illustrated in Figs. 3 and 5, Plate II., and Figs. 1 and 5, Plate III., in the chapter on “ Elizabethan ” ; and in Fig. 2, Plate I., and Fig. 5, Plate II., in the chapter on “Jacobean,” is clearly a rough reflection of the French shaping. The under-framing of Fig. 2, Plate II.; and much of Figs. 5 and 7, Plate VI. (both in the chapter on “Jacobean”), are obviously from the same source.

The resemblance in other pieces is so apparent that I need not point it out in detail. True, some of these French ideas of the period only reached us by way of the Netherlands, but they came nevertheless from France in the first place. “ But,” some reader may urge, “ one or two of the features mentioned appeared in England before the ‘ Louis-Quatorze ’ became a recognised style.” True, but it must be remem­bered that the “Louis-Quatorze” was only a development of the “ Louis-Treize ” ; the “Louis-Treize” of the “ Henri – Deux”; and the “ Henri-Deux ” of the “Francois-Premier.” Each style retained some at least of the characteristics of those that preceded it. So that problem is easily solved.

The question of the relationship subsisting between the “ Queen-Anne ” and the style we are now briefly considering may safely be left for the student to “ferret out” for himself, and the task will call for no great keenness of scent. Let him compare most of the table-legs illustrated in the chapter on the former with those of the table shown in Fig. 2, Plate I., and he will be face to face with one feature which will de­monstrate that point most effectually. Other resemblances, which cannot have been accidental, may easily be dis­covered by a comparative examination of the respective plates.

After studying the examples selected to illustrate this chapter, it will be apparent that, in its earlier stages, the “Louis-Quatorze” chair was somewhat stiff and severe in appearance—though most dignified. The straight line pre­dominated in its general form, precisely as in our own “Elizabethan” and “Jacobean”; but later the curvilinear element commenced to make its appearance, and eventually succeeded in obtaining the upper hand, resulting in the creation of the distinct and individual style that followed.

Plate III. will convey some idea of a complete interior of the period in question. The panelling in this case is com­paratively simple, though the emblematical sun, with its

powerful divergent beams, clearly indicates for whom the apartment was designed. The furniture, to which this painted and gilded woodwork forms a setting, calls for no special comment beyond that already made, save that I may point out that a comparison of the legs of the pier table with some of the earlier forms of the “ Chippendale " chair leg, may be instituted with results both interesting and instructive.

In concluding this chapter, and before proceeding to review the “ Louis-Quinze,” I must reiterate what I have previously written upon what may be regarded in the study of early French work as a puzzling confusion in style. It must, I repeat, be fully understood that changes in style were not, by any manner of means, exactly coincident with changes in monarchy ; while one style was at its zenith the seeds of that which was destined to follow had been sown, and were steadily germinating and fructifying. It is in this way that forms which we now regard as “ Louis-Quinze," for instance, are found to have been designed and made at a time consider­ably prior to the period with which that mode is generally associated. The “ Louis-Seize " bed is found in the bedroom of one of the favourites of Louis the Fifteenth, and so on ; and to draw a hard-and-fast line of demarcation is quite impossible. We can only class characteristics with certainty, and must not be guided altogether by dates.

Whether we agree or not with the idea that the character of a man, or of a nation, may be, in a certain measure, gauged from the character of his or their domestic surroundings, certain it is that the theory advanced receives striking demonstration in the styles in decoration and furniture which were originated and prevailed in France during the seven­teenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as during the earlier years of the nineteenth. The reign of Louis the Fourteenth, at the work of which we have glanced in the preceding chapter, was one of national reorganisation and empire build­ing; conquests abroad, and the rehabilitation of affairs at home, were the order of the day, and these were accom­panied by a spectacular display of pomp and magnificence of which the complete history never has been, and probably never will be, written. It was pomp and magnificence in the fullest sense of the words; for, while the eye was delighted with the splendours by which the court and all that apper­tained to national affairs were surrounded, the delight was ever tinged to a greater or less degree by a sensation of awe and oppression at the magnitude of it all. The spirit of domination and triumph pervaded the whole “ setting,” and it seemed to be the one particular aim of the artist, as well as of the statesman, to emphasise and perpetuate that theme to the utmost, doing all that was within his power to make it agreeable to the senses. Dumas sums up this phase of the matter admirably in writing of Versailles—that masterpiece of Mansart, Le Brun, and Le Notre—when he says : “ Louis the Fourteenth, the creator of etiquette, a system which shut

up each individual within bounds beyond which he could not


pass, desired that those initiated into the magnificence of his regal life should be struck with such veneration that ever afterwards they could only regard the palace as a temple and the King as a presiding deity.” And what a word-picture he paints of the royal palace, in which was materialised, so to express it, the very spirit of the reign. “Versailles,” he writes, “like everything really great, is, and will long be, a fair and lovely scene. Though moss should cover its moulder­ing walls, though its gods of marble, bronze, and lead lie shattered around their broken fountains, though its broad alleys of clipped trees should remain in all the wild luxuriance of nature, though it should become but a heap of ruins, it will always present to the thinker and the poet a great and touching spectacle. Let such look from its circle of ephemeral splendour to the eternal horizon beyond, and it will be long ere thought and fancy sink to rest again. . . Versailles ” (at the commencement of the reign of Louis the Fifteenth) “was fair to look upon, when its gay and thought­less population, restrained by the crowd of soldiers still more gay than themselves, thronged its gilded gates, when carriages lined with velvet and satin, blazoned with armorial bearings, thundered over its pavements at the full speed of their pran­cing steeds, when every window, blazing with light like those of an enchanted palace, exposed to view the moving throng, radiant with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and bending to the gesture of one man, as bends before the wind a field of golden corn with its flowers of crimson, white, and blue. Yes, Versailles was brilliant indeed when its gates sent forth couriers to all the Powers of the earth, when kings, princes, nobles, generals, learned men, from all parts of the civilised world, trod its rich carpets and its inlaid floors! But when, for some great ceremony, all its sumptuous furniture was dis­played and its sumptuousness doubled by the magic of a thousand lights, even the coldest imagination must have glowed on beholding what human invention and power could do.”

With all this, Louis the Fourteenth was far from con­temptuous of the lighter pleasures of life; he indulged in them freely, particularly at the commencement of his reign, and let nothing stand in the way of the satisfaction of his desires in that direction. In the palace at Versailles he was, to all intents and purposes, a deity; but in his leisure moments, even Le Grand Monarque deigned to be a man, and, as a relief from the overwhelming splendour of the court, he caused the Trianon to be erected to serve as a place wherein he could take his ease and breathe more freely. But, withal, he simply indulged in his pleasures by way of relaxation from sterner duties, and did not permit them to interfere too seriously with the attainment of the great object he had in view—the aggrandisement of France, and of himself at the same time; it would be difficult to say which came first in his estimation. His ministers and courtiers—had they known them—might well have uttered the Gilbertian words :—

“Duty, duty must be done;

The rule applies to every one.

And, painful though the duty be,

To shirk the task were fiddle-de-dee! ”

They knew that whatever respite they might be permitted to enjoy, must first be earned—that is to say, if they played any part in the manning of the ship of State. Does not the inanimate furniture of the period even convey an impression of all this? The very chairs seem to say : “ Here we stand,

ready for use. We may, perhaps, overpower you somewhat by our stately dignity, but you may sit upon us when you absolutely require rest from your duties; but remember we must be regarded with respect.” That, at all events, is what they say to the writer.

On the decease of Le Roi Soleil in 1715, and the acces­sion of his infant grandson, with the effeminate Philip of

Orleans as Regent, with his rouge pots, essences, and cos­metics, what a change came over the scene. Of Philip, history tells us that he was handsome in person, amiable in disposition, and more effeminate than his brother Louis the Fourteenth. His mother, Anne of Austria, who would have been rejoiced to have had a daughter, almost found in this, her favourite son, the attentions, solicitude, and playful manner of a child of twelve years of age. The time which he passed with his mother he employed in admiring her arms, in giving his opinion upon her cosmetics, and receipts for compounding essences ; he kissed her hands and eyes in the most endearing manner, and always had some sweetmeats to offer her, or some new style of dress to recommend.

These personal details may appear to be unimportant, and to savour somewhat of society small talk, but they are really of moment to us, as they convey a graphic impression of the man who had so much to do with forming the character of the new sovereign, and thus left his mark upon the whole of the reign. Thus it was that Louis the Fifteenth developed into a man of a mould entirely different from that of his august grandfather ; and to so great an extent, indeed, that more than one credible history sums him up as being a debauched and feeble-minded monarch whose follies and extravagances were largely accountable for the storm that forced his harmless and lovable successor to the guillotine in the dread “ninety-three.” The sword of Achilles had fatigued even Achilles himself, but it was an insupportable burden to his puny successor, to whom even the more homely and reposeful environment of the Trianon, which realised the ideal of comfort to Louis the Fourteenth, was unbearably oppressive. Consequently, in order to accord with his less ambitious wishes, the Little Trianon was erected, after designs by Gabriel, and became the king’s favourite residence.

The keynote of the reign, then, was effeminacy, and it is

that quality which we shall naturally find predominates in the work of those whose living depended upon their pleasing, and by pleasing securing the patronage of, the members of the court. Let it not be inferred for one moment that I employ the word “effeminacy” in its association with arts of the times as a term of reproach, however it may be regarded in other walks of life ; nothing could be further from my inten­tion. “ Effeminacy,” we are told by the dictionary, means “ womanish softness and delicacy ” ; and what more delight­ful quality could we have in the home to lighten the struggle and turmoil of the average daily existence? Stately dignity and sturdy simplicity may be all very well in their way ; and, theoretically, we may hold the ancient Spartan models of training and general deportment in the highest reverence, and quote them, in inspiriting accents, to members of the rising generation. But how delightful it is, sometimes, to throw oneself on to a heap of downy cushions—“ effeminate ” cushions. This may not sound heroic. It is not; but it is a sentiment with which I know the vast majority of my readers will agree. As to our own furniture of olden days, greatly as we admire those sturdy “Elizabethan” and “Jacobean” forms, and love to look at them as they grace our collections of treasures, we hardly select them as asylums of repose when we are in need’of rest. If we be forced to do so because other more comfortable seats are occupied, how heartily we wish that a greater measure of “ effeminacy ” had been instilled into the furniture of our early progenitors. It is wonderful what a few deft touches by a woman’s hand will do where questions of comfort have to be decided. Of course, there is effeminacy and effeminacy, but I am not afraid of my meaning being misinterpreted.

Changed as was the monarchy, there was no diminution in the encouragement afforded by the State, as well as by private patrons, to the arts. Indeed, it was increased rather than otherwise, and the workers in the appartemcnts an Louvre,

the State factories at Sevres, and private ateliers, were more fully occupied than ever in conceiving and producing beautiful creations for their luxury-loving patrons. The impetus given to the cultivation of the applied arts during the preceding reign—the underlying reasons for, and conditions of, which have been gone into at some length in the last chapter—was still bearing rich fruit, though the growth, char­acter, and flavour of that fruit had changed most materially; and never was the cabinet maker more prolific in ideas than at the time of which I am now writing. So vast was the out­put, and so varied its description, that to illustrate here even one-thousandth part of all that was done is not to be dreamed of. We shall only be able to glance at leading characteristics, and to acquire such knowledge as we can of salient features which will enable us to be in a position to explain why certain forms are styled “ Louis-Quinze,” and to recognise at once any piece that partakes of the chief elements of that mode.

The designers who were responsible for the inception of the “ Louis-Quinze," had commenced to tire of the straight line, and of rectangular forms generally. They argued, probably, that as there is not a single rectangle, straight line, or even “compass line," in the human form, and par­ticularly in the female form in its perfection, which in those days above all was regarded as the ideal of beauty, a rigid adherence to those factors was not calculated to lead to the attainment of either perfect comfort or perfect elegance. In consequence of following this course of reasoning, they arrived at the determination to see what could be done by abandoning the straight and rectangular, and cultivating the curvilinear wherever practicable. The requirements of com­fort and elegance were carefully studied at the same time, and the furnishing of the palace, the chateau, and even the modest home, from being stiff and formal, became inviting, and was imbued with a spirit entirely different from that which had, for the most part, previously pervaded it.

What a contrast to the condition of affairs which pre­vailed throughout the preceding reign, when rest and pleasure came as a relaxation from, but still were regarded as an interruption of, work. Under the indolent sway of Philip of Orleans, and later of the rightful sovereign himself, work seemed to be regarded in the light of an interruption of the pursuit of pleasure—as a necessary evil; and all who could shirk it, by any means whatsoever, did shirk it most effectually. The “ Louis-Quinze" chair, for instance, with its silent eloquence, tells a story different from that told by its com­paratively severe predecessor. It does not grudgingly proffer its services for temporary repose with the suggestion that we shall rise from it with renewed energy for further labours, but tempts us by its sinuous and subtle allurements so hard to be resisted. “ Come," it seems to say, “ come, my inviting arms and downy softness await you. Why think of work when I am here? Come, and forget all in my embrace. Take your fill of placid enjoyment; throw all else to the winds; and let others work who will." Something purely sensuous, indeed, pervades the whole of the best and most typical “ Louis – Quinze," which more than merely reflects the prevailing spirit of the times; it is literally steeped in it in every form and detail. Everywhere we have the bewitching female face—not of the saint, but of the syreri—smiling up into ours, and tempting us to linger. Figures are clad in the lightest of light draperies, which accentuate rather than conceal; and the female bust itself, but partially covered if covered at all, is wherever possible brought into undue prominence. Truly, these things constituted a fitting environment for a prince possessed of such predilections as was Louis the Fifteenth.

Yet withal, in its highest phases, the “ Louis-Quinze" is to my mind beautiful, and is endowed with a rare and peculiar fascination possessed by no other style. Appeal to the senses it does, and that most irresistibly; and as the senses have a good deal to say in the temperaments of most mortals,

there need be but small wonder that this mode, which was created in their honour, should have flourished “like the green bay tree."

It must be remembered particularly, moreover, that other personalities and forces than those I have named were actively at work. The nature of the dictator whose favour and approval were perforce being courted by those to whose hands the beautification of the royal residences was entrusted, was hardly such as to insist upon the adoption of the strictest code of morality in art or in any other regard. The frivolous Marie-Jeanne Vaubernier, when she was first brought under the notice of Louis the Fifteenth by his valet de chambre, Lebel, and before her title had been conferred upon her, had, although then only in her “ teens," gone through varied ex­periences of a character from which elevation of the mind or tastes could hardly be expected. After the Marchioness du Pompadour, she became all powerful in the kingdom; and her word in everything, from the appointment of a minister to the acquisition of a pet puppy, was supreme. Architects, painters, poets, playwrights, musicians, sculptors, goldsmiths, cabinet makers, upholsterers, decorators, metal workers, and all other disciples of the fine and applied arts, anxious to secure the patronage of the court, submitted their schemes to her, or to officials appointed by her, who would study her preferences in every particular. It was inevitable, therefore, that the art of the period should reflect the tastes of the erstwhile grisette, but then it was the taste of the grisette glorified by the master minds of the age. Truly, in “La Petite Jeanne," diminutive though she was in physical stature, the king encountered a spirit that was neither to be daunted nor thwarted. She in­tended to have her own way, and had it. In the earliest days of her association with her royal lover, she suddenly came to the conclusion that her little Pavilion at Luciennes ought to be created a Royal Residence. The king laughed at the sug­gestion, but a Royal Residence it became, and her negro page,


Zamore—“something between a monkey and a parrot"—was officially appointed “ Governor,” with full title, dignities, privi­leges, and brilliant uniform. There, while urgent affairs of State were awaiting settlement at Versailles, the sovereign would sit, caressed by his fair despot, by the edge of the lake, feeding the royal carp with bread-crumbs, or stuffing the “Governor” with sweetmeats. The presence in office of the Due de Choiseul, prime minister, patron of the arts, and inti­mate friend of Voltaire, was obnoxious to Jeanne, who protested that he must “go." The king pooh-poohed the suggestion as altogether out of the question. De Choiseul was a great man ; had rendered notable service to the State; he was indispensable; the people would be furious. The Countess pouted, and—the prime minister “ went.” Even the sovereign’s influence could not induce any one of the great ladies of the court to act as sponsor at her Presentation to this woman who, in days gone by, had probably helped to make some of their dresses. Presentation, therefore, was of course impossible. Was it? The Countess du Bearn, a decayed remnant of the old nobility, who had fallen upon evil times, was unearthed by the determined little body, carried to the capital, and liberally paid to act as sponsor. Jeanne was presented. On the plea of illness the great ladies absented themselves from the function, in order to show their displeasure. “ So much the worse,” said the king, when informed that they were ill; and the words were uttered in a tone that suggested the unuttered, “for them.”

Cannot we picture this imperious little woman, with her “ light chestnut hair, skin of white satin, veined with azure ; eyes at one moment spirituelle, and at another languishing; a little roseate mouth, with rows of pearls ; dimples every­where, and a figure marked by a certain embonpoint with the pliancy of a snake.” Might we not apply the concluding words of that description to many of the furnishing forms by which she loved to surround herself?

Updated: October 3, 2015 — 11:49 pm