Working in The Empire Style. Charles-Honore' Lannuier, a French immigrant, was one of the first cabinetmakers to introduce this style in America, according to Schwartz. He added gilded carving to his pieces that made them elegant and appealing in his New York workshop. Duncan Phyfe's shop was influenced by this style as well in the 1820s and 1830s, but in a much more restrained way although still quite elegant in its appearance. But the more elaborate designs came out of Boston and Philadelphia. All the craftsmen working in this style were likely fed by publications of the day. They included designs based on those shown in British author Thomas Hope's Household Furniture and Interior Design and others adapted from French styles. Of course, the name Empire originating from the French wasn't used in England due to political conflicts with France at the time. The British preferred Regency as their moniker for the style with many of the same elements. Americans, being friendlier with the French than England after our own conflict for independence, took to the name Empire more readily back then, and it endures when describing these pieces today. Occasionally the term Classical will be used to describe these styles as well.
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.
The more elegant pieces are the ones that get the most attention from collectors and antique furniture aficionados. “Empire furnishings with their undulating scrolls balancing heavy geometric shapes, complemented the Greek Revival architecture of the period. Ornament was carved in high relief; inlays were abandoned in favor of stenciling and gilded brass or bronze decoration. Other pieces were kept simple by omitting carving and emphasizing the overall line,” shared Schwartz. Furniture examples in the Empire style include the Klismos side chair, two daybed styles called the Méridienne and the Récamier, the popular pier table, the Scroll-end sofa (see a typical settee example illustrated above), and the sleigh bed to name a few.
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