Oak And Fruitwood Cabinet

Date about 1670. . W. Smedley Aston, Esq.

Fig. 121. OAK INLAID CUPBOARD. OAK CHEST OF DRAWERS.

Fig. 121. OAK INLAID CUPBOARD. OAK CHEST OF DRAWERS.

It is true that many of the Frencli details were adopted at a much later date than their vogue on the other side of the Channel, but they were rendered, in almost every instance with considerable fidelity.

With Fig. 115 we revert to East Anglia again, and the years following the Restoration. The front of this chest is a rich example of the inner-frame panelling referred to at a previous stage, with the central small panel facetted and carved from cherry wood, stained to a darker shade. A curious detail may be noticed with a magnifying glass. In Chapter III of Vol. I, an account was given of the method of cutting oak in the manner known as " quartering," that is, where each board was cut at a slight angle to the medullary ray. It was pointed out, at the time, that to cut the wood exactly

Fig. 122. OAK INLAID CHEST.

Date about 1670-S0. Messrs. Gregory and Co.

Fig. 122. OAK INLAID CHEST.

Date about 1670-S0. Messrs. Gregory and Co.

parallel with the ray, caused the surface to wear unevenly, as the hard ray-figure resisted wear better than the softer surrounding wood. The river, who splits, instead of sawing his timber, usually7 aims at riving exactly on the ray itself. The front of this chest has been constructed from this riven oak, and the riving marks, and the signs of unequal wear, can both be seen in the flat panels in the illustration. This chest, with its almost barbaric richness of decoration, may be referred to mid-Essex, and a date between 1660 and 1670.

Although a decoration of split and applied turned balusters or bosses is early,-in Elizabethan examples it is usually known as " strap-and-jewel " work,—it is a mistake to assume that this is an indication of late sixteenth or early seventeenth-century work, when coupled with an elaborate mitring of mouldings. Thus Fig. 116 cannot be referred to a period prior to 1650 for this reason, if for 110 other. It will be noticed that this cabinet is elaborate, yet quite without carving. This fashion, of complicated mitring of mouldings, is borrowed from the Italian frames of the period, and is the indication

Fig. 123. OAK INLAID CHEST.

Date about 1685-90.

Fig. 123. OAK INLAID CHEST.

Date about 1685-90.

an attempt, during the later Commonwealth period, to establish a style which should conform to Puritan severity, and yet be decorative without the use of carving. Thus key-corners to framing-mouldings, raised chamfering of panels, and applied split balusters or bosses, became, a fashion so popular that it persisted after the Restoration,— although anything of Puritan origin was anathema to the new Court,- with the addition of inlay of ebony, sycamore, holly, bone and mother-o'-pearl. It is difficult to assign any locality of origin to much of this work. It appears to have been made, equally, in districts as far removed as Lancashire and Middlesex, and Norfolk, Suffolk and northern Essex adopted the new manner with avidity, some of the finest work being produced

Fig. 124. OAK CHEST ON STAND.

3 ft. ii ins. wide by 4 ft. oi ins. high. Date about 1690-1700. 04

Fig. 124. OAK CHEST ON STAND.

3 ft. ii ins. wide by 4 ft. oi ins. high. Date about 1690-1700. 04

in East Anglia. It is doubtful if the style ever penetrated into the south-western counties, however.

Many examples of these chests and cupboards, exhibiting the same details, could b^ illustrated here, did not space-considerations preclude more than a representative selection. Fig. 117 has the inner-frame pattern of panelling with mitred mouldings, the rectangular central panels projected, with heavy chamfers of snakewood. Fig. 118, from Forde Abbey, has the split-balusters, bobbin-turned, above, and square-section moulded pilasters below. The corners of the panels have the mouldings mitred in the. familiar key-cornered pattern as in Fig. 116. The ovals in the door panels, divided into quarters by chamfered keystones, are in the somewhat feeble manner of 1670,1 and the knobs, which are not original, but probably replaced others of similar form, are used with considerable effect. This press opens with two doors only, which are hinged on the ends. The central pilaster is carried on the right-hand door, a device which indicates the last thirty years of the seventeenth century, and one borrowed from Dutch and German sources at this date.

The next example, Fig. 119, is difficult to localise, although it is of post-Restoration date. The four doors are decorated to give a perspective appearance to the panels, which are inlaid with bone and mother-o'-pearl. The Dutch origin of these pieces has been often suspected, and this example gives colour to the suggestion, especially in such details as the projection of the central panels, and the illusory recessing of these on either side. Constructional details, however, show that this press is of English make and origin.

  1. 120 is the Western-Midland version of this style of elaborately mitred mouldings. A comparison of this with the East Anglian chest, Fig. 121, will show the greater refinement of the latter. The small cupboard above has the key-corners, as in Fig. 118, with panels of bone inlaid in a ground of ebony. The type of split-baluster, strapped to its ground, which is often found in furniture and woodwork of the early seventeenth century, and which persists as an effective and inexpensive form of decoration until about 1680, will be noticed here.
  2. 122 has the same type of inlay and split-baluster, with a fretted and bossed capping, and appears to be of Shropshire origin. The feet and the lock-plate are additions from the next century. Fig. 123 is the highest development of this type as exhibited in the work of Norfolk or Suffolk, of the years between 1685 and 1690.

1 The device itself is earlier, and can be noticed in the overmantels from Lime Street, illustrated in Figs. 332 to 334 in Vol. I.

It is rare to find low chests, with lifting lids, and without drawers, at this date, and in this respect the type is early, but in design, finish, and refined elaboration, it may be regarded as the last and best phase of this intricately moulded and inlaid style.

Fig. 124 closes this series of chests and cupboards and carries us to the last years of the seventeenth century. Here we have the same elaboration of moulding, in a chest fitted with three drawers, mounted on a stand with turned legs and feet, flat-stretchered in the fashion of 1690-1700. We reach, with this example, the walnut period, and although oak was still used until the close of the century, veneering with walnut and saw-cut marqueterie (as distinct from either the older inlay or parqueterie), was becoming general, with the result that examples of oak, plain walnut, and marqueterie, of apparently totally different stages in the evolution of English furniture, are met with, and from the same localities, which coincide in point of date, in spite of superficial indications to the contrary. This chest of drawers on its stand has an amount of quiet but effective embellishment. The escutcheons are crested with a royal crown flanked by supporters, and are of solid silver. In the centre of the bottom drawer of the upper carcase is the device of a hand grasping an ear of wheat, and a spray of oak leaves with acorns. Initials are carved in four places, the upper two " J.T." and " O.T." being probably original to the piece, while the others, " J.C.E.T." and " S.V.E.T." are later. The middle drawer, with the earlier initials, however, has somewhat the appearance of being an interpolation, differing even in the style of the coupled split-turned balusters on either side. The escutcheon-pattern is the same, but all the metal work is of early eighteenth-century design, and is probably an addition. This chest and its stand may be taken as the last phase of the oak furniture of the seventeenth century, and thus concludes this series, leaving the consideration of the next development, the walnut furniture of William III and Anne, to be deferred to a later book, where it is intended to carry this history of English furniture and woodwork to its logical conclusion, the close of the eighteenth century.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
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.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment