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. It was from this versatile piece of furniture that several other types, such as the cupboard and the box chair, were evolved. Chests were made of six planks, crudely pegged or nailed together and frequently strengthened with iron banding. Examples of this sort, dating from the 13th century and in many instances found in churches, are among the earliest pieces of extant European furniture. The chest remained one of the most important pieces of furniture until the end of the 15th century, when on the Continent the cupboard began to compete with it in usefulness.
Early in the 16th century a new style of bed design appeared; the greater part of the frame was left exposed and was enriched with carving and other decoration, making the frame itself an important part of the design. Favourite carvers' motifs for beds and other types of furniture included strapwork, grotesque masks, and caryatids (draped female figures), bulbous turned pillars and supports, arcading (decorating consisting of arches or arcades), and patterns of scrolled foliage. The heavily turned “cup and cover” motif is frequently found on bedposts in the later 16th century. The cumbersome Gothic trestle tables were replaced by “joyned tables,” with tops fixed to the frames. Draw tables, which could be conveniently lengthened by pulling out the two leaves concealed under the top, were also introduced. Table legs and sides were decorated with carving and inlay, and the cup and cover motif is often found on the legs. Various types of cupboards were made, usually in two stages, or levels. In court cupboards both stages were left open. A simple form of chest of drawers was introduced about 1620.
Fabrics and upholstery in a Neoclassical design should be in rich, but muted hues, such as moss greens, grayish blues, dusty pinks, subdued maroons and crisp, classic whites. Wide stripes and repeating patterns were popular prints during the period, along with toiles depicting Greco-Roman motifs. Ornate vases and urns were the decorative accessory to have in a Neoclassical design. These vessels were often designed in a solid color and embellished with white designs in repeating patterns, such as garlands or swags. Many Neoclassical accessories featured mythical creatures such as griffins, satyrs and even Sphinxes when Egyptian influences became popular in the latter half of the Neoclassical era. Introduce these design elements in lamps, paintings, pillows, mirrors and other thematic accessories.
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