Anybody who knows antiques and the reproductions that follow them knows that familiarizing yourself with various antique furniture periods can be a big help. That’s why we decided to offer our readers a few useful summaries of the major furniture periods of England, starting with one of the first. This post is the last in a series of 7, continued from a discussion of Victorian furniture.
The Edwardian period represents in many ways the last period of English furniture craftsmanship in which bench-made furniture pieces played a central role, with later styles of furniture more or less abandoning traditional precedents in favor of cheap materials and machine production. Today, only a handful of English furniture manufacturers continue the tradition preserved by Edwardian craftsmen, among them the third-generation cabinetmaker who supplies our own line of furniture.
So named for King Edward VII’s reign from 1901-1910, the Edwardian period continued the Victorian tradition of reviving and blending older styles. Georgian furniture inspirations occupied the forefront of Edwardian furniture-making, however, and thus the period produced a kind of neo-Georgian style, with key differences. Among these, for instance, was the revived prominence of Queen Anne style furniture, which tended to employ cabriole legs, serpentine curvatures in chests, and chair backs curved to fit the body, with walnut as a favourite wood type. The Art Nouveau style was also a contemporary of the Edwardian period.
Typically, Edwardian furniture makers used mahogany, often in butterfly or quarter-veneer styles. Square tapered legs and spade feet were common. Satinwood was the favoured wood type for inlays, usually in combination with ebony. Satinwood inlay patterns included fan, swag, festoon, and string inlays. In fact, very often Edwardian furniture would include a combination of all of these inlays, producing a richly ornamented appearance, even in the absence of heavily worked carvings, and in this respect Edwardian craftsmen favoured the simple yet elegant Georgian approach to ornamentation.