Modern Furniture

THE nineteenth century is, without doubt, a great one in many ways: wonderful in adventure, in discovery, in invention; tremendous in mechanics; accomplished in the literature of poetry, fiction, history; doing more for science than has been done since Roger Bacon's day, achieving something in sculpture, as witness Story's work and that of others, and much in painting, as witness Turner. But all this is, in a manner, external. It is out-door work for the universal race, and hardly at all 011 the domestic and individual side; and it is not a little singular that in the more personal service of architecture and the kindred art of furniture design it should do nothing but revive that which has been done before.

Modern furniture — to leave architecture out of the case — in one of its phases has revived the Gothic, although until very recently with insufficient knowledge, lacking also the spirit and honesty that actuated the ancient forms, imitating without the inspiration of the necessity that produced the original. In another phase modern furniture has used the Renaissance, but, except where furnishing for princes, robbed of half its splendor; and it has finally selected from all styles, with the old English always in mind in the Eastlake, and with a charming mongrel revivified in the Queen Anne. It has adopted also the Moorish and the Pompeian and the Oriental styles, upon occasion, but it has invented nothing new. It seems as if the modern designers felt that what had already been accomplished was equal to the emergency; that it was best, perhaps, to digest the past thoroughly, and when that was well done, something in this transition age might be evolved from it of a novel nature; and that, at any rate till a new architecture should arise, the new furniture which must follow it could wait.

There is certainly in modern furniture an immense variety to choose from — the picturesque mediaeval articles with their pointed arches and vertical lines, the magnificent Renaissance ones covered with carvings that take light and shade like bosses of metal-work, the luxurious light and lustre of the articles of the Quatorze with their gilding and their inlay, and all the fantasticism of the styles of the Asiatic races. One might well be so satisfied with all this as to demand no more; and, indeed, the demand for more which is now and then made is principally from those who are ignorant of what we really possess already, and who are led to make the demand in view of the slight and superficial structure with which upholsterers are too apt to meet the popular desire for cheapness.

The dissemination of money among many, where formerly it was centred among few, has put it within the power of the million to make the home attractive, and fill it, for furniture, with objects that it gives pleasure to look at. But, notwithstanding, there is not money enough with each householder of the million to have that furniture of the best of whatever style he chooses among the existing ones. He wants beauty and he wants cheapness, and the upholsterer allows him a degree of both, but solidity and durability do not enter into the bargain. Perhaps the purchaser does not greatly care for either. He is not attempting to furnish for posterity; the things will last out his lifetime, he reckons, and posterity may furnish for itself. Nor, as a general thing, does he care for purity of style. Handsome woods and handsome material are ordinarily much more to him than any shape; his pronounced fancy is for novelty, and if that is obtained by Gothic arches topping Grecian columns, it makes small odds to him.

As a rule, it is the purchaser that makes the market. Whatever there is that may be wanted, there is some one that tries to produce it. If the purchaser wants French maple and satin damask, ebony and gilding, or their imitations, it is for somebody's interest that he shall have it, and no one will disregard the economy of things so far as to throw in any large amount of careful and unrequited discrimination as to outlines, curves, character, and expression of members, origin of parts, or preservation of style. The purchaser gets what he requires, the thing that pleases him, as much beauty as he is acquainted with or can afford, and as cheaply as it can be given and a margin of profit retained; and if great and real beauty is not the result of his bargain, and does not fill the houses of the million, it is not the upholsterers, but the public, who are to be censured and instructed. There are, indeed, upholsterers who refuse to sell to the million, and who will not make their articles such as the million can afford to buy. In obedience to our democratic instincts, we reproach them; but it is to such as they that the art of ebenuterie will owe its preservation.

Until recently, whenever any one spoke of modern furniture, two or three variations instantly offered themselves to the eye, neither of them of nobility or of true beauty: one, a faint and feeble representation of the splendor of the Quatorze, with sprawling spindling legs and arms, cushioned and tufted and sufficiently luxurious, with boule-work and ormolu, overlaid with gilding and underlaid with crimson mottling, losing the intention of the style, -and reaching little .but the vulgarity inevitable without that; another, yet more comfortable, but not to be spoken of in reference to beauty at all, other than'as one would speak of any assemblage of cushions, the stuffed and puffed and tufted chairs and sofas where no wood-work whatever was visible, the outlines scarcely more than those of well-filled cushions shaped by the form and attitude of the sitter; still another presented series of padded panels of any odd shape apparently that happened to be liandy to the maker, connected by bars either plain or turned,'stiff and awkward to the last degree; and there were others with wood-work at the top, where the broken triangular forms appeared, styled Renaissance by virtue of those forms and of the cachet of some shield and scroll glued on at the corners. Variations and minglings of all these, interspersed with hints of others, we find as the'staple of modern furniture, and they are what the public has asked for. By the public we would, say the body of buyers with limited means, for of course there are always the princely purees — few in comparison, however frequently found iu the great cities—to command finer objects; and there are always an exceptional few, besides, who furnish artistically and with intelligence in the style that has struck the answering chord of their fancy, these in the perpendicular Gothic, those in the Elizabethan, others in the superb radiance and richness of the Pompeian. But for such buyere the furniture is made Chair of the Time of Charles II., owned later by to order. It would ruin any upholster- Horftce Walpole-

er to keep articles of the description they require in stock. Other buyere, unable to meet the expense of ordering articles manufactured, but, in disgust at the flimsy and characterless things offered them, have gone back to what is indefinitely known as the " old-fashioned," reaching accidentally very much the same thing that the English artists have reverted to upon selection; and every farm-house of any age along the country-side has been ransacked for its ancient furniture, a hundred years old in the manufacture frequently, two hundred years old in the design. Large quantities of this old-fashioned furniture have turned up in excellent repair, and

many of the articles carrying in their brass-work, their carved-work, and inscriptions patriotic insignia of the Revolution—inscriptions abounding on much of the old china. We will often find a whole house furnished, to Tat ^¿k^- the despair of the upholsterer, in this dark and quaint old stuff, illumined jyWfl ffaw 3 Ilri wrought brass, its delicate carv ing, and its satisfactory moulding; curious desks full of hidden places, charm-, ing chairs, claw-footed loo tables, and f^git^^^^^^^C fine peculiar foliage after a modified

  • ili^E^^lJ The cabinet-makers and furnishers of
  • j* i^l^^ uSl^Hr to-day are as capable of producing no-

ble objects as those of the sixteenth cen-- tury were. They have better woods,

Chair of the Time of William I1L , ,, ,. i j. i j j l better appliances, the best old models, and steam to help them in the rude blocking-out. But glue has been their undoing; and they have learned to rely on this fatal steam till it has nearly abolished the individuality of the workman and the life of the work. Fortunately attention has been directed to this tendency in season to prevent the loss of the superior traditions of the trade; and with plates existing of the best designs, in the satisfying excellence of the old Gothic, and of the early Renaissance whose merit is acknowledged by all but a few fanatics of the other, the art of furniture-making can go forward with the charm of the old design and the opportunities of the new workmanship. wj^ft ; Artists have taken the matter in hand, not as a personal and private thing of their own II Mm hearths, but as a business. Under their l^jL ' •

oversight, the honesty of carpentry has su- \ perseded the sleight of hand of cabinet-mak-ing; house-decorators have formed them-selves into firms, giving their attention to the preparation of interiors from the mo- " ^ ment the plasterer is done with them; an- ~ cient houses are studied in all their appointments from roof to cellar; ideas are harvested and applied; and beauty, led by all the increased intelligence of the era, is becoming the trade-mark of modem furniture.

How To Sell Furniture

How To Sell Furniture

Types Of Furniture To Sell. There are many types of products you can sell. You just need to determine who your target market is and what specific item they want. Or you could sell a couple different ones in a package deal.

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