Panel, 17 ins. x 11 ins. Extreme height,
Date ahout 1790.
BLACK ANI) GOLD POLE SCREEN.
Panel, 12J ins. 8J ins. Extreme height, 5 ft. 2 ins. Dare ahnnt 18(10.
The next example, Fig. 332, is a characteristic London-made piece, with the French fashion of the marble top. The whole is veneered with satinwood inlaid with engraved marqueterie, in the style of Robert Adam. The workmanship and the woods used indicate a later date, however, and the projecting pilasters, breaking up the frieze and the whole sweep of the front, are foreign to both the styles of Hepplewhite or Adam.
During the later period of Sheraton, an attempt was made to revive the taste for the Chinese decoration so popular during the era of Chippendale. Laequerwork, often of a very high quality, was introduced, superimposed on furniture made in imitation of bamboo—a somewhat crude attempt at Oriental forms. A chair in this manner will be illustrated later on in Fig. 343, and the table shown here in Fig. 333 is a good example of this manner. The legs are jointed in imitation of bamboo, and lacquered a brownish red. The top is lacquered in brilliant red, with a black oval in the centre decorated in raised and gilded gesso. The border corresponds with the centre. The fashion for this work does not appear to have been a lasting one, judging from the paucity of existing specimens, and it has very little to recommend it, from the artistic point of view.
The pole-screen was a very familiar piece of furniture at this date, its use being somewhat negligible as a protection to the face from the heat of a fire. Its popularity was more probably due to the fact that the panels were used to display the feminine skill with the needle, these being nearly always covered with embroidery. Although comparatively useless as pieces of furniture, however, a good deal of taste in the design of these pole screens was frequently displayed, such as in the tripods of Figs. 336 and 337, and the stand of Fig. 33S. The latter is finished in black and gold, with a panel painted on silk—another feminine accomplishment at this date.
The pure style of Sheraton persisted until the close of the eighteenth century, the former high standard, both of design and workmanship, being, with some exceptions, well maintained. The decline of taste, however, was already apparent in numerous details of form and ornamentation, and in many ways the close of the "golden age" of English cabinet-making was already heralded. With the first years of the nineteenth century the tide of the " English Empire " began to set in, submerging all that was formerly tasteful and refined, and obliging the last of the great furniture designers of England to follow with its current, forsaking the high traditions of English furniture which he had previously done so much to uphold.
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