Introduction

It is not the pretension of this work, as will be understood when its dimensions are remarked, to provide a complete and exhaustive history of furniture, but simply to convey a knowledge of those national types that are still to be met with, in original form, in the auction sale-rooms, the dealers' shops, the country cottage, or the old family mansion ; and which are being perpetuated even to-day by the labours of the designer who draws upon time-honoured sources for inspiration. The study of our domestic furnishing as it was prior to the end of the sixteenth century belongs rather to the field of remote antiquarian research, which interests but comparatively few people, and, on that account, has not been included in the present volume.

I have commenced, therefore, with furniture which was more or less common in the homes of this country at the time when James the First ascended the throne, and have continued ¬ęby dealing with every style that has won favour here since that time ; discussing each as fully as possible under the circumstances. It has, of course, been altogether out of the question to illustrate every old piece available, for their number is far too great to permit of inclusion in a single volume, unless that volume be of truly Gargantuan proportions; but thoroughly characteristic examples of the various phases of all the styles selected have been presented, and dealt with so exhaustively that a knowledge of them will be sufficient to enable the student to pass judgment on all others partaking in any degree of the nature of those styles.

As the French modes of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and of the earlier years of the nineteenth, influenced our own very strongly, those modes also have been duly considered, in order that the relationship subsisting between the art and craftsmanship of the two countries may be clearly traced. The development also of " L'Art Nouveau " in France has been accorded a considerable share of attention, as I hold that it marks a movement of the greatest significance and importance, not to France alone, but to the art-workers of all countries.

Finally, though it has not been my intention to deal at any length with modern productions, some explanations have been proffered to account for the character of much of the furniture now being designed and manufactured in this country, and to which the style-and-title " Quaint" has been accorded. For the rest, I trust that the book will prove to be self-explanatory.

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