Framed panelling had been used in ancient times, as examples found at Herculaneum testify; its reintroduction in the Burgundian Netherlands at the beginning of the 15th century was an improvement that soon spread throughout western Europe. Panelled construction solved the problem of building large surface areas, as on the front of a chest or cupboard, which before this time had been limited by the size of individual planks. These planks, usually hewn with an adz, were heavy and liable to warp and split. Panels could be cut thinner, the main strain being taken by the framework, and the furniture was therefore lighter; moreover, if the panels were not fitted too tightly in their stiles, the wood was less likely to split if it did warp. Now that it was possible to construct larger surface areas, a new range of storage furniture, cupboards and chests in particular, was developed.
How to Make a Neoclassical Room, Elegant, luxurious and romantic, the Neoclassical interior design style infuses any room with European formality. A style that first emerged in 18th-century Britain and France, Neoclassical decor draws on classic Greek and Roman art and architecture by featuring columns, swags, gilt, classical reliefs and opulent furnishings. This design scheme adds sophistication to any space, but avoid over-decorating with these ornate items or your room can quickly go from grand to gaudy. Neoclassical furniture embraced clean, straight lines and geometric shapes, while still incorporating some of detailed carvings so prominent in the preceding Baroque and Rococo periods. Look for refined pieces that feature design elements such as tapered, fluted or reeded legs, gold gilt accents, scrolls, medallions, rosettes and lyre designs.
By 1700 the effect of French and Dutch fashions on late Stuart furniture in England had become evident in the American colonies. Fashion consciousness appeared, though for decades to come the furniture of the average colonial home kept to the earlier tradition evolved from medieval joining. The box chest was succeeded by the chest of drawers, often placed on a stand with turned legs. Chairs began to replace stools; and the early heavy, turned, and wainscot (panelled back) types gave way to simplified versions of the high-back scrolled forms of the English Restoration fashion. The daybed appeared with its upholstered pad. Small folding tables, cabinets, and the tiered dresser to store and display tableware testify to the rapidly increasing standard of comfort among the more prosperous. Carved surface decoration was largely replaced by colour, through the use of paint, veneers, or inlays of contrasting wood.
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