Different aesthetic influences in furniture design Antiques 18/04/2023

At auctions of designer furniture in Balclis, late-Gothic and Renaissance Spanish furniture is common in each sale, presided over by chests or chests and by desks with or without lids, but Italian coffers or chests of that type also tend to go up for bids. moment, as well as different models with aesthetic influences in furniture design.

The Baroque and eighteenth-century France

The 17th century began with a classicist sobriety inherited from the taste of the late 16th century, which had a strong influence during the first decades. As the century progressed, the more ornate taste typical of the Baroque contributed more colour, a variety of materials and Solomonic columns, which would enrich the repertoire of palatial furniture (in the case of the richest, even made in pairs).

Those known as "bargueños" in the peninsular area are a sample of great diffusion and that was made with various polychrome and golden variants and often with applications of worked bone. In the same area, the Flemish or Neapolitan cabinets, arch tables or chests are usually even more striking due to their red tortoiseshell veneer, the ivory or painted drawer plates or the gilt bronze applications.

However, sobriety was also present in the century, particularly in Spain, and the tables with lyre legs or turned legs, with blunt surfaces, the friar armchairs (with seats and backs generally made of cordovan) or the picture frames and mirrors (polychrome and/or gold) are a good example of this.

Beginnings of marquetry in the decoration of furniture

The French styles of the Louises also made their appearance in that century in which the austerity of Louis XIII would give way to the radiant solemnity of Louis XIV and Versailles. The great decorative contribution of the furniture of that period was due to Charles Boulle, who introduced the famous marquetry that bears his name, consisting of alternating rich compositions on the surfaces that combine tortoiseshell and brass. With the eighteenth century, the introduction of luxury, but also comfort, grace and sophistication took over the furniture.

The alternation of the Regency, Louis XV, Louis XVI and Directory styles (with their appropriate transitions) will mean the incorporation of highly refined plastic languages, typically French and whose significance has been profound and spectacular until the 20th century. Types and decorative details in carved wood such as seed beads, flowers, panoplies, garlands, birds, putti or "chinnoiseries", along with the "cabriolee" lines of Louis XV and the more orderly and smooth lines of Louis XVI, they had and have an incredible importance in furniture until today.

The UK and Spain

A parallel but different evolution took place in England, where it went from the sobriety of the William and Mary and Queen Anne styles to the rococo sophistication of Chippendale, ending at the end of the century with the neoclassical Adam and Hepplewhite styles. If in France we talk about the "Louis" in England we can talk about the "Georges" (George I, George II and George III), who reigned for practically the entire eighteenth century and who constituted the "Georgian" period that includes, among others , the aforementioned eighteenth-century styles.

In the other countries of the European sphere, and even in the American continent, a parallel evolution was experienced, with English or French influences and the logical local peculiarities. In Spain the reign of the Bourbons marked the century (Philip V, Fernando VI, Carlos III and Carlos IV) and the correspondence with the commented styles presented its own characteristics, with particular influence in Hispanic America. The concept of “High Times” so widely considered in the world of antiques and historical furniture in general, in which the Balclis auction house specializes, ends in the 18th century.

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XIX century

The internationality of the styles was reinforced in the 19th century and the evolution in France from the Empire and the Bourbon Restoration (Charles X and Louis Philippe) up to Napoleon III marked a decisive influence on continental tastes.

The line of English aesthetics was also marked by parallel trends that began with Regency furniture, continued by the William IV style and finished off in the second half of the century with the Victorian style. A constant in the furniture of the time - as in silver, porcelain, ivory, fans... and in most of the decorative arts - was the historicist taste for the styles of the past.

Neo-Gothic, Neo-Romanesque, Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Mudejar... are some of the styles in vogue at that period, which revisited the aesthetics of other times and latitudes. But it was perhaps the revival of 18th century French styles in the second half of the 19th century that would be most overwhelmingly successful, with a spectacular revival of Boulle marquetry furniture, Louis XV and Louis XVI tastes. Very good examples of these characteristics usually appear in all Balclis sales.

In Spain the influence was particularly French and the Fernandino periods, Regency of María Cristina and Elizabethan, would be the correspondences with the styles of the neighboring country, from the Empire to Napoleon III.

From Art Nouveau to Art Deco

The liquidation of historicist styles came between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century with Art Nouveau (Modernism in Spain, with the prominence of Catalan Modernisme). The influence of Japanese aesthetics and the obsession with recreating nature in all its aspects, gave the furniture a new fluidity, variety and freedom, presided over by the coup-de-fuet (or “hip”) line. In Nancy, in Brussels, in Paris, in Turin, in St. Petersburg or in Barcelona, ??we can still see abundant architectural samples of that style... and also a large amount of antique furniture, both in museums and in private collections.

The opposition to the sweetness and excessive curves of Art Nouveau was Art Deco, which triumphed at the great exhibition in Paris in 1925. The taste for furniture with refined and elegant forms, but with great visual forcefulness, prevailed from then on. . The volumes and decorations were at that time of geometric shapes and pure lines and veneers with noble woods and oriental-type lacquers were resoundingly successful. We can consider Art Deco as the last of the great historical styles, which in fact already coexisted with the origins of design.