Styles - Carolean, William and Mary, Queen Anne

CAROLEAN: Charles II to Flight of James II (1660-1689)
After the years of austerity under Cromwell and the Puritans, the accession of Charles II was the signal for an outburst of luxury and extravagance; according to some, never surpassed. Walnut superseded oak, although the latter continued in use on a diminished scale as it does even now. Veneers and marquetry, lacquer and embossed silver were introduced for the decoration of furniture, and the use of mirrors on the walls of rooms became general. The tall-backed chair, known earlier in a simple pattern, became the object of attention from turners and carvers and is the typical feature of the period. The back and the front rails were elaborately carved, the design often centering on a pair of cherubs holding a crown aloft, and the seat and back panels were caned.

This was a period that saw the arrival of large numbers of Dutch workers, who came over from Holland, with King William III, who was also Prince of Orange. Having been born and brought up in Holland, it is not unexpected that both he and his Queen (daughter of James II of England) should be more fond of the productions of that country than those of England. To these monarchs is owed the creation of a problem for twentieth-century collectors in trying to distinguish some of the Dutch furniture from English. Also, as the reign was only a short one, it is not easy to tell William and Mary furniture from Queen Anne; pieces with showy decoration are said usually to have been made before 1700. Cabinets and chests often had a plain turned ball-shaped foot (replaced in more recent times by a bracket foot of later design) and turned legs favoured the inverted cup. Stretchers (cross-pieces connecting the legs of chairs and tables) were of a 'wavy' shape and usually had a turned pointed knob (finial) where the two pieces crossed over.

QUEEN ANNE (1702-1714)
Walnut furniture is always associated with the name of this Queen, and some of the finest surviving pieces date from her time. Marquetry was seldom used, and every effort was made to show off" the grain of walnut veneers to the best advantage on pieces of simple outline. Lacquer remained popular. The cabriole leg was the most important introduction, and was often carved with a shell on the fat curved knee. Mirrors were more plentiful and of smaller size, and upholstery with both silks and needlework became general.

Collectable Antiques: