Anybody who knows antiques and the reproductions that follow them knows that familiarizing yourself with various 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 5th in a series of 7, continued from a discussion of Georgian furniture.
Regency antique furniture developed in the latter decades of the Georgian period, and represented the culmination of neoclassical design. While the years previous to the 19th century saw simpler furniture designs and less rich ornamentation, Regency furniture featured the development of embellished adornment and extravagance, thus anticipating the exoticism of Victorian furniture. Regency furniture grew so popular across the Atlantic that Americans adopted their own version, known as Federal style furniture, which lingered on a few decades after Regency styles fell out of favour in England.
Named for George IV’s “regency” (1811-1820), Regency style dominated English taste in furniture between the years 1800 and 1830. The Regency style was actually an adaptation of the international Empire style, which began in France as a result of Napoleon’s desire to revive the grandeur of Rome. Furniture from the Regency period bears many similarities with other Georgian styles, except that Regency furniture drew more from its classical precedents in ancient Greek and Roman furniture, and in fact drew on correct models discovered through anthropological studies. The results tended to be somewhat more exotic in comparison with more moderate Georgian tastes, producing, for example, a greater use of marquetry and inlays as well as the tendency to significantly alter traditional English models of shape and size in order to more faithfully render classical precedents.