the last century, that was all that they attempted to do, or, at any rate, it was all that they succeeded in doing. Independently of this, they accomplished practically nothing worth recording; to all appearance they were absolutely barren of originality of any kind or description.
So far as progress was concerned, the " full stop " came in France with the final development of the " Empire," in as full measure, and in exactly the same way, as the fount of inspiration appeared to run dry, and a period of deadly dulness, almost without a single redeeming feature, came over the furnishing of our own homes when the pencil dropped for ever from the hand of Sheraton. It yet remains to be proved whether a new, and really serious, chapter has actually been commenced, or whether the few hesitant and fragmentary lines that have recently been added to the old story are simply expressions of transient thoughts, which lack the power and virility essential to arrest and hold the attention for any appreciable length of time.
What, then, were the French cabinet makers and designers doing during this lapse of so many years ? A study of their published works, and of the records of the displays which they organised at their great Expositions Universelles, and for those held in other countries, will furnish a conclusive answer to that question; an answer, moreover, that will fully bear out the observations with which this chapter commences. Those records will show that, for many a long year, indeed from the fall of Napoleon to within the last decade of the century in which that event occurred, the French designer remained perfectly content to study the work of those who had gone before ; u rescuing " every piece that had survived the depredations consequent upon many political upheavals; treasuring them carefully, and holding them in such veneration that any attempt to improve upon, or depart from, them would probably have been regarded as sacrilege. Every "Department" of the country was ransacked for authentic
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