Empire Style Furniture Designs Popular in the Early- to Mid-1800s, Antique Furniture with Roman, Greek, and Egyptian Influences. While this style was going strong in France even earlier, and the English had their Regency designs of the same influence, Empire designs didn't really take hold in the United States until about 1815. This was a continuation of earlier neoclassical styles like Hepplewhite and Sheraton, but with a much stronger influences in terms of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian ornamentation. Literally for decades, all the way through the mid-19th century, the Empire look was in fashion in America. One of the interesting aspects of Empire styles is that they were seen at all price points. The wealthy often purchased very elegant pieces while those living more modestly could more readily buy items for “cottage use,” which had plainer veneers or were painted, according to American Furniture: Tables, Chairs, Sofas and Beds by Marvin D. Schwartz (now out of print, but widely available through used booksellers).
Beginning of 18th century the agricultural revolution spread across Britain, Europe, and Americas. With new methods of farming and intense labour there was tremendous production of agricultural products which led to surplus in food production. This resulted in pulling down the prices and farmers prosperity increased, the farmers started to move towards rapidly expanding towns. In 1760, a second revolution got under way in Britain as industrial revolution. With the new machinery powered by coal and water, the steam engine revolutionized the manufacture of textile and eventually led to mass production of furniture and other household goods. Alongside both the revolutions was a cultural revolution known as Enlightment, a philosophical attempt to rationalize the replacement of customs, traditions, and religion with reason and natural law. It was a period of two of the most important political revolution in history, The American Revolution of 1776 against British colonial rule that led to the independence of the United States of America; and the French Revolution of 1789 that overthrew the monarchy and introduced new ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity.
France. The furniture of France was among the first to be influenced by the Italian Renaissance. Louis XII and many of his court visited Italy and soon took Italian artists and craftsmen and works of art into France. The French Renaissance of furniture can be divided into two stages. First was a period of transition and adaptation; during the reign of Louis XII and the first part of the reign of Francis I, the pieces were basically Gothic in form, and Gothic ornament was mixed with the cupids, medallion heads, and grotesque decorations of the incoming Renaissance style. During the second phase, from the end of the reign of Francis I, the new style displaced the Gothic. The more exuberant arabesque shapes of Renaissance decoration, however, gave way to increasingly architectural design, and oak was almost entirely superseded by walnut. Centres of furniture making were established at Fontainebleau, where Francis I employed several Italian artists and craftsmen; in Île-de-France, headed by the work of Jacques du Cerceau; and in Burgundy, where, led by the craftsman and designer Hugues Sambin, design was influenced by the Renaissance style evolved in the Netherlands.
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