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The Legend of Bohemian Glass:
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Glossary of Furniture Styles
Page 2

Middle Ages Early Middle Ages: With the collapse of the Roman Empire during the 4th-5th centuries, Europe sank into a period in which little furniture, except the most basic, was used: chairs, stools, benches, and primitive chests were the most common items. There is evidence that certain ancient traditions of furniture making, particularly that of turnery, influenced early medieval craftsmen. Turnery was used in making chairs, stools, and couches in Byzantium, and it seems that this technique was known across Europe as far north as Scandinavia. Later Middle Ages (14th and 15th centuries): Folding chairs and stools, trestle tables with removable tops, and beds with collapsible frameworks were usual. The religious houses were an exception to this in that they enjoyed a certain security denied to the outside world. Much of the best furniture of this period was therefore made for use in churches and monasteries, and many of the ideas and developments that were later to add to the domestic comfort of Europe originated in the cloister. Household furnishings were frequently crude in design and roughly constructed. Other forms of carved decoration on furniture became more common during the 15th century, when surfaces were carved with tracery and other Gothic motifs. During the Middle Ages a great many pieces of furniture, including those with carved decoration, were painted and sometimes gilded, a practice that continued well into the Renaissance. The chest was the basic type of medieval furniture, serving as cupboard, trunk, seat, and, if necessary, as a simple form of table and desk.

Middle Renaissance Ranging in time from 1550 to 1610, Middle Renaissance furniture was characterized by broken pediments, colonnettes, pilasters, flat strapwork, and cartouche ornamentation. Stars and diamonds were used in bold relief.

Mission The Mission style, from the early 20th century but enjoying a resurgence today, is inspired by the mission furniture of the Southwest that was made of rough-sawn lumber and pegs and dowels. It is a very popular offshoot of the Arts and Crafts period. The style is characterized by simple, functional designs made of oak and stained wood with minimal ornamentation. Leather and Native American designs are often the motif of the coverings.

Modern An early-to-mid 20th century style, Modernism, one extreme of the Art Deco movement, was austerely functional in its purest form. It drew on Machine Age sensibilities and minimized ornament in favor of extreme simplicity of form following function.

Neoclassic Neo-classicism, which is sometimes called Louis XVI, lasted from 1750 through 1800. Travel into Greece, Italy, and the Near East during this time produced archaeological discoveries, and publications about these were spread through Europe. In response, designers of this period looked to classical art for inspiration. Chair backs took on rectangular or shield shapes, and slender, straight lines were the rule.

Neo-Gothic Popular from the 1820s in Europe and from the 1840s in North America, this style features such motifs as pinnacles, crockets, and trefoils.

Queen Anne An American style created in the early 18th century. The most relevant feature is the cabriole leg. The cabriole leg is a bowed, offset leg that grows from the floor around the entire piece. Walnut is the favored wood, but maple and cherry are also used. Mahogany began to achieve popularity during this time.

Regal Generically, a traditional furniture style characterized by majestic forms. Many especially European furniture styles are further characterized by the name of the specific monarch or monarchical dynasty during the style's time period, such as William and Mary and Tudor.

Regency/Empire Essentially a continuation of the neo-classical style with a stronger archaeological emphasis. Napoleonís campaigns in Egypt inspired the use of Egyptian ornament. Mahogany furniture took on winged lion supports and pilasters headed with sphinxesí busts or palm leaves.

Rietveld In the early 20th century, Rietveld style grew from the Dutch Arts and Crafts movement with a strong Frank Lloyd Wright influence. Machined forms and manmade materials figured in this style, which sought to preserve the integrity of Arts and Crafts while embracing the modern world.

Renaissance This movement began in Italy in the 13th century and continued through the 17th century. After it was introduced in France it spread throughout northern Europe. It often features ornamentation inspired by Italians Michelangelo and Raphael. The furniture is true to the purpose of the piece and often incorporates mythological or biblical figures. Walnut is often the wood of choice.

Republic A variation of the Federal style.

Retro A contemporary retrospective view, which reinterprets some of the best-loved looks from the 1930s to 1980s. The mood of these pieces is playful and ironic. The classics have extra emotional punch because you recognize such items as exaggerated Hollywood sofas, 1950s boomerang tables or wacky '70s chairs from late night films, TV sitcoms and old cartoons.

Rococo A French-influenced style that dominated the first half of the 18th century, essentially a lightening of the baroque period. Rosewood and fruit woods replace the darker woods used previously. The details of the furniture were more delicate, curved forms with smaller units of ornament.

Romanesque Early medieval furniture with crude Roman influences. Characterized by arches and curves, simple geometric arrangements, coarsely rendered animal and plant forms, and paint in decorative hues. Found throughout Europe, the Romanesque style preceded Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Russian The Russian style is a blending of styles from throughout Europe. The production of metal furniture can be considered a purely "Russian" phenomenon since the production of metal furniture was not found elsewhere in Europe at the time.

Rustic 18th century utilitarian objects that were usually handmade of common materials. Decorations resembled natural growth of trees, etc. The strength and character of southwestern and Colonial Mexican design is included in this style, as are the hunting lodge looks of the Adirondacks and the northwest.

Scandinavian At the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition and the 1939 World's Fair in New York, the larger world was first exposed to the simple, clean, and lightweight forms of Scandinavian furniture. Quality craft combined with mass production where appropriate are hallmarks of the style. Bent plywood is a commonly used material.

Shaker The Shakers, who were a religious society with colonies throughout the United States, produced furniture during the early nineteenth century that is characterized by its economy and efficiency. They produced works with the attitude that work is prayer, which resulted in highly practical and functional designs that appeal to modern tastes. The plain turnings of a classic, straight back, Shaker chair is indicative of the designís commitment to simplicity and function.

Thomas Sheraton gave his name to a stylistic period from the late 18th to early 19th centuries. The Neo-classical movement is heavily influenced by his The Cabinet Dictionary and The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book.

Southwestern Contemporary style which is highly influenced by Native American Indian traditions. Light-colored woods, light and bright color palettes, rich patterns, and desert scenery characterize furniture.

Spanish Ranging in time from the mid-1200's to 1600, furniture of this style is vigorous, masculine, and even barbarous. Typical pieces were richly carved, painted, gilded, and inlaid with ivory in a Moorish manner. They used metal supports and ornamentations, nail heads, and chip or gouge carving techniques.

Traditional Traditionally styled furniture is available in both original antique pieces and quality reproductions. This type of furniture usually follows a particular period style such as Georgian, Tudor, Regency, or Louis XV.

Tudor The Tudor period is generally accepted as the reign of Henry VIII through the reign of Elizabeth I of England. Tudor furniture was typically massive, heavily carved, and influenced by Italian Renaissance furniture. The foregoing Gothic style contributed its straight lines to this period as well.

Victorian Victorian refers to a time period rather than a particular style. The Victorian period fell between 1837 through 1901. The industrial revolution allowed for the mass production of furniture and styles from earlier periods were drawn upon. Heavy ornamentation is a hallmark of the Victorian period. The round ottoman, balloon back chair, and single end sofa were all developed during this period. Victorian can be further subdivided into Victorian-American and Victorian-English.

William and Mary An American style popular in the American colonies during the late 1600ís. Walnut and maple became the material of choice and veneering was introduced for highly figured, naturally decorative wood. Hinged lids were placed on desk boxes on stands, and on chests of drawers, producing the secretary we are familiar with today.

Windsor The term Windsor refers to a chair style dating from the 18th century. Use of local woods is characteristic of Windsor chairs, which are available in regionally variant forms. Saddle-shaped seats and spindle backs are common.

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