Empire, Federal, Regency & some book recommendations
Posted by Carolyn B on January 23, 1998 at 21:17:31:
In response to Furniture on the two sides of the Atlantic, written by Caroline on January 23, 1998 at 16:23:23
] I do know that the differences between European pieces and American-made ones were largely a matter of ornamentation. The American ones , though well-made, were done in simpler styles and in native-grown woods, as the American acess to tropical imports was far less. (Where did I learn that? From a woodworking magazine , I think!)
My understanding so far (read this with a grain of salt):
French Empire tended to be more ornate of the Neoclassical styles because they were looking to the example of Imperial Rome (Napolean and all that) while American Federal styles followed the examples of Greece and Republican Rome, and the plainer lines reflected the virtues of the new American Republic (or something like that.)
I'm not sure where English Regency fits in to that.
Two useful books that I have in my personal library (gleaned from the sale tables and used bookstores : )
Period Style by Mary Gilliat
Gilliat is a British interior designer and her book is really a guide to recreating period styles from medieval to Regency to Art Deco. She also does do a historical background on each, discusses the components of a style from furnishings and textiles to color palette and design motifs, and she includes primary source images such as period paintings and prints. This is the book that makes me wish I had my own house and A LOT of money.
Authentic Decor : The Domestic Interior, 1620-1920 by Peter Thornton
This is a more scholarly work (footnotes, etc.) and has loads of great images (paintings, prints, excerpts from period design books, etc.) which the author analyzes, pointing out details of furnishing in the various rooms depicted.
Both these books look at the "big picture" of style components, so I need to find some books that discuss the actual furnishings themselves, I guess.
Your point about the wood is interesting, too, and that's how you can tell about where a older piece came from because it would have been too expensive to import wood when you had it growing right there.
I've been reading an interesting book telling you how to LOOK at furniture:
Fake, Fraud or Genuine? Identifying Authentic American Antique Furniture by Myrna Kaye
This has been helpful for me in trying to determine whether some of our collection are antiques or 1920s reproductions (which were still high quality). And it helps that my colleague (who was crawling under the furniture with me) is a woodworker who used to work for a company that made reproduction furniture.
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