We have become so accustomed to the luxury—we might almost say effeminate luxury—which has found its way here from across the Channel, that we hardly dare hope a revival of such models as those in question wrould meet with popular favour nowadays. Yet we cannot but accord them our admiration, nor can we resist the temptation to add as many to our collections as means and opportunity will permit.
It is a common error to suppose that most of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century woodwork, such as I have depicted here, was formerly to be seen only in the houses of the nobility. There is every reason to believe, on the contrary, that so far from that being the case, it was generally to be found in the houses of the middle classes—of prosperous farmers and well-to-do tradesmen.
In making my selection, I have been careful to keep this point in view, for one of the chief objects of this book is to convey as complete an idea as possible of the average English home during the last three centuries, and not of exceptional examples of the craft of the cabinet and chair maker, which were designed and produced for palace and mansion. As may be imagined, these, even so far back as the sixteenth century, were magnificent beyond description. Spenser, in his " Faerie Queene," tells us :—
" For thJ antique world excess and pride did hate;
Such proud luxurious pomp is swollen up but late ";
and the study of the inventories of the belongings of the Elizabethan "upper ten" clearly proves that they loved to surround themselves with all the masterpieces of art and craftsmanship which could be brought from countries whose skilled workers were renowned for the creation of luxurious and beautiful things.
There are, however, further illustrations awaiting com-ment. The stool that appears in Fig. 1, Plate VI., recalls strongly the old monastic days, and might have come from
Glastonbury Abbey itself; while that in Fig. 2, Plate III., is a sensible, and by no means ungraceful, "Jacobean" form.
All the tables designed and manufactured during the greater part of the seventeenth century bear a very strong resemblance to one another, though we find what might be described as " the fat and the lean kine " among them. Notwithstanding this, all share the cardinal characteristics we have discussed in company with other articles of " Jacobean"
Jacobean 14Gate" or "Gate-Leg" Table (See below for referejtce)
furniture, and they may, therefore, easily be recognised. The earlier types are heavier, generally more crude in construction, and enriched to a greater extent with carving, as in Fig. 6, Plate II., and Fig. 6, Plate III. Later, the proportions become slighter, the turning of greatly improved design, and more graceful; and variations upon the simple rectangular form are made, as in Figs. 3 and 5, Plate V., and the folding " Gate Table/1 on Plate VII., so called on account of the way
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