England. The Italian Renaissance did not affect the design or ornament of furniture in England until about 1520. Evolution from the Gothic style was a gradual process, influence coming first from Italy and, in the second half of the 16th century, from the Low Countries. In the early stages, furniture remained Gothic in form, though Italian motifs slowly replaced the older Gothic ornament. Many pieces of early Renaissance English furniture combined linenfold panelling with medallion heads and Italianate cupids, but by the middle of the century both new ornament and new forms had replaced the medieval style. About the middle of the century the direct influence of Italy weakened, and its place was taken by that of the Low Countries. The northern style of Renaissance ornament was propagated in England by pattern books, immigrant workmen, and imported Flemish and German furniture, and before long it was adapted by English craftsmen into an individual and peculiarly English style.
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.
First was the decoration of furniture legs with sharply profiled metal rings, one above another, like many bracelets on an arm; this was the origin of the turned wooden legs so frequent in later styles. Second was the use of heavy fringes on furniture covers, blending the design of frame and cushion into one effect; this was much lightened by Classical taste but was revived in Neoclassicism. Third was the typical furniture grouping that survived intact into the Dark Ages of Europe: the couch on which the main personage or personages reclined for eating or conversation; the small table to hold refreshments, which could be moved up to the couch; and the chair, on which sat an entertainer—wife, hetaira (courtesan), musician, or the like—who looked after the desires of the reclining superior personages. From this old hierarchy of furniture derived the cumbersome court regulations concerning who may sit and on what, that persisted for centuries in the palaces and ceremonies of monarchs.
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