William & Mary (1689-1702)
Historical --- Upon ascending the English throne, Mary Stuart brought with her a Dutch husband, William of Orange, and from their reign evolved a new furniture style based on Dutch and French influences. From Holland came furniture, fabrics, and many Dutch Craftsman attracted by the prosperity in England. From France came highly skilled Huguenots fleeing religious persecution that brought their expertise of the Louis XIV style. These blending influence, as well as motifs borrowed from Spain, China and India were responsible for furniture that was relatively graceful, slender and of lighter style that heretofore characterized English furniture. The ear is noted also from the number of new pieces – such as the highboy –, which were introduced. Prosperous condition enabled the middle class for the first time to enjoy home comforts – once a privilege of only the extremely wealthy.
General Attributes --- The lines are basically rectangular, with the use of both curved and straight lines. Marquetry, veneering and lacquering were used quite extensively as decorative processes on table and cabinets; carving on chairs and sofas. Walnut replaced oak as the favorite wood, with holly and pear used for marquetry. Carving features motifs of seaweed, flowers, foliage, cupids, wreaths, c-scrolls and serpentine designs, often gilded, painted or lacquered. Among characteristic turnings on legs in the “Inverted Cup” – a bell shaped detail, which appears near the top of the leg. Trumpets shaped and octagonal legs are common. All types of feet are used – bun, pear, and club and hoof-shaped. Stretchers are set x-wise between the legs, with a finial at the conjunction.
The cabriole leg was introduced and it terminated in a cloven hoof foot. Use of upholstery appears extensively for the first time and fabrics were tapestry, petit point, embroidery, damasks, brocades, and velvets, figured chintzes.
Chairs and Tables --- Chair backs are high, slightly tilted and are either carved, upholstered or caned. Backs are also spooned or shaped to a person back. Seats are square with either upholstery or cane. Legs are straight and usually with a trumpet or “inverted cup” design that connect with x-wise stretchers. In rectangular tables, stretchers are governed by the size of the table, but are always flat and curved. Stretchers are also used on small tables. Legs are elaborate as in chairs. Cabriole legs appeared on later occasional tables. Round and oval gate-legged tables are found, as are splay-legged butterfly tables.
Other pieces --- Stools have upholstered tops, heavy, elaborately carved legs and characteristic heavy stretchers, Cabinets and desk have shaped skits or aprons and drop handles on drawers. Top rails of cabinets are hooded with arched tops. Cabinets and highboys have six or eight legs, all connected with curved, flat stretchers. Bed stands are canopied with rich hangings, the four-corner post often surmounted with plumes. Upholstered settees or love seats resemble joined chairs with elaborately carved stretchers.
Suggestions For Use --- William and Mary furniture is reproduced only rarely today, but because of it grace and lightness goes well with 18th century and Queen Anne, especially occasional pieces.
- Bookcases / Breakfronts / Cabinets
- Bureaus / Secretaires
- Desks / Writing Tables
- Chests / Commodes / Side Cabinets / Tallboys
- Side / Card / Tea Tables
- Occasional / Breakfast / Dining Tables
- Sideboards /Serving Tables
- Console / Center Tables
- Tea Caddies
- Lamps / Wall Lights
- Candlesticks / Candelabra
- Chippendale (1740-1779)
- Adam (1760-1792)
- Hepplewhite (1770-1786)
- Sheraton (1780-1806)
- Regency (1793 - 1830)
- Victorian (1830-1890)