Pound On The Sheraton Type Oe Sofa

to the King and was soon to make his taste predominate over the elaboration of the Chippendale following. George Hepplewhite, whose influence upon Phyfe must be taken into account, was working at his trade and acquiring the experience in furniture design and construction of which the Hepplewhite "Guide" later gave ample evidence. Thomas Sheraton, Phyfe's immediate inspiration, then a youth apprenticed to a provincial craftsman, was imbibing a knowledge of the mechanics of his craft as well as formulating a complete conception of religious doctrine which bred in him the pedagogical instinct dictating the scope of his later activities.

This period at the end of the eighteenth century was one of sophistication and luxury, of a society interested chiefly in its pleasures which it took with an abandon outwardly elegant. The somewhat surfeited though ravenous taste of the moneyed classes needed the constant stimulation of variety or innovation. This led, in England, to a preponderantly eclectic character in utilitarian art, the art which responds most quickly of all to changes of taste or social usage, while in France the superior genius of the designers and craftsmen forced this eclecticism into moulds of their own conception.

The heritage of many epochs of furniture design which had come down to the cabinet-makers of the last half of the eighteenth century was brought by them to a luxuriant flowering. The evolution of furniture forms was already accomplished with a few exceptions which the usage of the time soon called into being. The wide variety of materials already in use left little scope to the inventiveness, in this line, of individual workmen. The glossary of decorativeimotives was completed by the introduction of the late Roman detail early in the period. The remaining opportunities for the furniture designer and craftsman lay in his personal method of approaching and treating his problems of design or in his originality in combining his decorative motives and his rich materials. The result of this condition of affairs was the conscious creation of furniture styles which were differentiated each from the other by a certain studied use of a limited number of decorative motives and design forms combined in characteristic ways.

In the superb designs of the period of Louis XV, the rocaille taste which had been developing throughout the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was brought to its logical expression. It was a vehicle of perfect flexibility for the rendition of the subtle, refined, and aristocratic taste of the time. Elaborate, often gorgeous, the furniture design possesses an intellectual quality which it is sometimes difficult for the uninitiated to discover, but its presence definitely refutes the charge of superficiality which is often levelled against the decorative art of the Louis XV period.

"With the classical influence exerted by the archaeological investigations in Italy and the handsome publications of Piranesi, the developed style of Louis XVI is marked by colder and less inspired qualities of design though it retains the same high standards of craftsmanship in its execution. The debacle of the Revolution brought with it the desire for simplicity on the part of its protagonists whose taste accepted the style of Louis XVI, with which they were in some degree familiar, but shorn of much of its more elaborate decoration. The furniture of the period of the Directory, strikingly related to that of Phyfe, is of this sort and shows a frequent use of woods unpainted and ungilded, decorated with low relief carving and characterized by attenuated proportion. Under the Consulate, the same austerity of design is retained but acquires a more elaborate appliqué of decoration, while with the Empire came the full blare of gorgeous decorative treatment and an increasing solidity of form based upon architectural formulae.

To trace a parallel course in England we must return to Chippendale's designs, which, supplemented by others of less well known men, had given expression to the rococo love for the unusual and the exotic, which dominated the complicated taste of the time. His style at its best and most typical was of a very high artistic quality, of imaginative and intellectual content, suited to its uses and carried out in appropriate material. Both the decoration and structural lines were plastic, essentially, but in the latter the feeling for the material was seldom violated.

As the freshness of the style began to wane the tendency toward over-elaboration made itself all too obvious. The bizarre and eccentric became the rule rather than the exception, and the effort degenerated into one of striving to produce the novel rather than the fine effect.

Due partially to this undesirable ingrowing tendency of the art itself, partially to the budding romanticism of the time, the innovations begun by Robert Adam in the third quarter of the eighteenth century met with hearty endorsement. The discovery and excavation of the ruins of Her-culaneum and Pompeii had gripped both the scientific and romantic interests of the cultivated public, so that a contemporary architecture and decorative art referring directly back to those late-Roman times held an immense appeal for a considerable group of people. It was upon this basis, therefore, that Robert Adam built up the style to which his name is attached.

Although he was an architect, not a cabinet-maker, the necessity for suitable furniture in the houses which he designed—in which the prevailing style of Chippendale seemed to him out of place—soon led Adam into the designing of furniture and decorative accessories incorporating the motives which he had made his own. These included a classic symmetry in composition, the preferred use of the straight line in vertical structural members, and of geometrical forms, curved or polygonal, in plan. The total effect of these general changes was a lightening of the proportions, an interesting effect gained chiefly by the contrast of complementary forms and the employment of consistent scale, in an architectural sense, throughout the design. This definite scale in the furniture was emphasized by the use of much decoration of architectural origin. Vertical supports, such as table legs, were designed upon the basis of the classic fluted column. In carving were employed swags of flowers or drapery, acanthus, water and palm leaves, musical instruments tied with ribbons, and many other delicate details whose use was suggested by their former employment in architectural decoration. With Adam this type of furniture design resolved itself into that of architectural design in the small. The points of study were those of mass and proportion, the placing of decoration and, above all, correctness

PLATE XIX. CARD TABLE, SHERATON INFLUENCE

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