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Styles

The Aesthetic movement advocated pastel colors in decoration and light, almost flimsy construction; there was a strong emphasis, too, on Japanese motifs. Eventually the style came to include Arab and Moorish fashion. The fashion was comparatively short lived, as it appealed mainly to an intellectual elite and was too expensive for most people. The name, Art Nouveau, derives from that of a shop opened by Siegfried Bing in Paris in 1895. The designs employed flamboyant, sinuous curves not only in the decoration but in the constructional parts as well and almost every design included a theme of foliage or flowers with the stems and leaves prominently displayed; often they were worked in copper or other metals, embossed on leather, or etched on glass. In 1888, T.J. CobdenSanderson suggested the formation of an Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. It aimed to promote the production of furniture and other artefacts such as printing, wallpaper, metal work, crockery, lamp shades, etc. which were simple and honest in design, the emphasis being on sound construction and fitness for purpose. The name Baroque derives from an Italian word meaning irregular pearl and the association with oyster shells is particularly apt. The style originated in Italy and soon spread to become the most dominant throughout Europe in the last quarter of the 17th century. By about 1740 the influence of the Baroque had waned; by 1750 it had been virtually replaced by the Rococo. From about 1660 Chinese style decoration appeared in England, although it was by no means new in France. The style reached its peak between 1745 and 1760 when it can best be described as a craze. Chinese decorative motifs were widely used by many 18th century designers and makers. The plain but sturdy furniture made during the years from 1649 until 1660 was called Cromwellian style. Architectural and decorative styles prevalent in the years from 1714 until 1830 was called Georgian style and was founded on well understood and recognized rules of classical proportion. To distinguish the medieval from the classical style of architecture in the 17th century, the term, Gothic was used. At first the style was a mixture of Baroque and the Gothhic, but later changed to a Rococo Gothic which became Strawberry Hill Gothick. The Gothic Revival of the first half of the 19th century was a more literal transference of original medieval styles to architectural and furniture designs and lacked the lightness and delicacy of the 18th century fashions. The modern name given to furniture made during the first half of the 19th century was actually a mixture of Tudor and Jacobean styles laced with what the manufacturer or designer considered were improvements. It refers to the general style from about 1590 to 1630. Neo-Classicism was against Rococo. Characteristics of the style are the use of gilding, the introduction of painted furniture, and the employment of compo built up on a wire matrix to form filigree or tracery patterns. It contrasted strongly with the asymmetrical fantasies of the preceding Rococo. Queen Anne period is a term that today refers to furniture made in the opening 20 years of the 18th century. The era saw the introduction of the type of cabriole leg and the vastly increased use of veneers as a decorative feature. The name Rococo derives from the French word rocaille meaning rock work. The style included such unconventional decoration as C-scrolls, simulated rocks, shells, trees festooned with creepers, dripping water and sometimes included Chinese pagodas, peasants and lattice work. In the middle years of the 19th century there was a revival of interest in Rococo but it was soon absorbed and transformed into the vague and florid decoration loved by the Victorians.The term Tudor style should only be applied to furniture made between 1485 and 1558, however, the stlye is considered today to cover periods 1500 to 1558. Early Victorian furniture was largely dominated by the Gothic Revival. The mid-Victorian period was notable for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The late Victorian era included several conflicting trends. There was the back to medieval craftsmanship, Art Nouveau style; the craze for Japanese furniture and the demand for reproduction furniture of the Adam, Hepplewhite and Sheraton periods. Victorian Vernacular is a name given to a style popular from about 1830 to the 1880's, based at first on the Neo-Classical style and included designs of new balloon and spoon-back chairs, chiffoniers, and davenports.