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.
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.
Other constructional improvements of the 15th century included the introduction of drawers into cupboards and similar storage furniture, and neater and more efficient joints, such as the mitre and the mortise and tenon. Panelling was frequently decorated with a flat form of ornament called linenfold, or parchment. Linenfold was widely used in the north of France, Flanders, Low Germany north to the Baltic, Scandinavia, and England. The linenfold of France, the Low Countries, and Germany is carved with a sharper definition and greater delicacy than was usual in England and elsewhere. Both panelled furniture and room panelling were decorated with linenfold. Other forms of carved decoration on furniture became more common during the 15th century, when surfaces were carved with tracery and other Gothic motifs. During the Middle Ages a great many pieces of furniture, including those with carved decoration, were painted and sometimes gilded, a practice that continued well on into the Renaissance (the present state of existing pieces, with their plain wooden surfaces, is misleading). Chairs, tables, and various types of cupboards were also frequently draped with bright fabrics, while chairs, settles, and other seat furniture were provided with cushions.
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