The nineteenth century

If any reader should desire to study the furniture of that period more closely than he will be able to do here, he cannot do better than refer to the special volumes issued by the Art Journal at that time, which are to be found in most reference-libraries, and illustrate the glories (!) of that exhibition. I have also, in the chapter on " Other Georgeian Types," given the names of several other illustrated works dealing extensively with English furniture and decoration of that "dark age/' I much prefer that the examples should be found there than in these pages. Tasteful furniture was, of course, not altogether unknown to our forefathers of the days of which I am now writing ; but such as then existed was on the lines laid down by Chippendale, Heppelwhite, Sheraton, and even earlier masters, or else consisted of such English renderings of the " Empire" as were more refined than the majority of those interpretations. So matters went on for many a long year without any very great effort being made to improve them.

It is necessary, I suppose, to illustrate some examples of the style of this period, so on the single plate included in this melancholy chapter, and on the preceding page, I present a few studies of English "Empire" at its best. That they are possessed of some little merit may be accounted for by the fact that they came from the pencil of Sheraton ; but as they were designed in the declining years of that old master, and in answer to a demand which, I venture to think, was by no means in accord with his own personal preferences, they have not been included in our deliberations upon his representative work. The two sofas are not ungraceful. in line, and the arm-chair is a sensible and comfortable model which has done good service for many years ; but the two remaining chairs have an appearance of weakness that is far from being in keeping with true "Sheraton." The table illustrated is not, of course, on " Empire " lines, but is suggestive rather of the Gothic, and—well—it might be worse.


Following the condition of affairs referred to in the preceding chapter, it was not until well into the second half of the last century that any signs appeared of a revival as regards tastefulness in the furnishing of the homes of this country—that is to say so far as the origination of new ideas was concerned. Until they became apparent, those purchasers who would not tolerate the heavy and ungainly caricatures of the il Empire" which the furnisher offered them had to fall back upon the traditions of the preceding century, and they could hardly have done better. It does not form any part of my scheme to review exhaustively the work of the past fifty years ; not that the work is unworthy of consideration, by any manner of means ; but it is of too recent a date to be accorded any great amount of space in a book the chief object of which is to deal with historic styles in furniture. Moreover, for the reader to see the best of everything that has been done by the modern designer to supply the needs of the average householder, it is only necessary to make a tour of inspection round the principal establishments devoted to the fitting-up of the home. There a complete and most exhaustive object lesson in this phase of the subject may be found. Nor does it come within the scope of this volume to proffer advice upon the choice of modern furniture—I hope to deal with that separately; but a few observations which may aid in accounting for the why and wherefore of the styles prevalent at the present day will not, I am sure, be regarded as out of place in these pages.

When passing in review the selection of productions

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