The Changes Made In The New Styles

It is well to be prepared in advance for the great changes that we shall find, so as to know for what to look, in our American as well as in English furniture.

We are so accustomed to seeing the Chippendale and Classic Styles, and frequently in the same room, that the extent of their differences is hardly realised by the general observer. If the reader—as an aperitif —will occupy a few minutes in a general comparison of the Chippendale illustrations with those in this chapter he will then see in contrast what amounts to virtually two conceptions of furniture design.

Chippendale furniture is robuSt and big, and the curves of its ornament are free and flowing: this furniture is light and slender and its outline is severe—yet it possesses the greatest charm and refinement. The corners of Chippendale cabinet-pieces were softened by such means as chamfers, rounding and carving, and columns; here they are angular and sharp. The surfaces of Chippendale pieces were often relieved by ornate carving; now surfaces are flat and the ornament employed is inlay or painting. Veneering with beautifully grained woods was extensively practiced.

Much of the curvilinear element was retained by Hepplewhite but largely discarded by Sheraton—his work is almost wholly rectangular. In both Styles the bold mouldings of Chippendale have now been abandoned or reduced to delicacy in scale. That magnificent borrower and exquisite draftsman, that Baptist preacher from Stockton-on-Tees who in deftness and refinement designed more like a Frenchman than any other man born on English soil, Thomas Sheraton, was a maSter of scale, and in this respect carried English furniture to a perfection it had never known before.

In this period the woods employed were of generally lighter colour than formerly, the mahogany often being finished naturally with little or no use of permanganate of potash. Satinwood, ebony, rosewood, birch, and maple were used for inlays and veneers. The decorative motifs were, of course, classic and generally derived from architecture. Handles were of appropriate delicacy.

We have seen that the ornate phase of Chippendale developed in pleasure-loving Philadelphia was not taken up in New England, but though the Pennsylvania neighbourhood Still retained all its ability, its craftsmen of the present period were now equalled by many of those of Massachusetts. The chaSte beauty and restraint in ornament characteristic of these classic Styles seem especially to have appealed to the New England temperament and admirably to have satisfied its ideals in furniture.

This section of our country had now increased in wealth, some of its ship-owners living in ^lmoSt princely Style. Furthermore, with the influx of new arrivals and the growth of new generations under urbane con ditions, a more liberal spirit prevailed and beauty in the home met its due recognition.

It may be a relief to the reader if he is assured that he need feel under no obligation of being able definitely to term every piece of the American furniture of this period either Hepplewhite or Sheraton; in England the ¿tyles overlapped quite sufficiently, for these men and others were all working in the Neo-classic manner, while our American craftsman added his own individuality, made choice of his own ingredients, and often used them as he pleased.

THE FURNITURE

CHAIRS

Although a few complications txiSt even here, chairs are much freer from them than is cabinet-furniture.

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