A relatively brief period between 1901 and 1910 when King Edward reigned, Edward was very much a follower of fashion and the arts in Europe. It was a period of luxury, opulence and extravagance; he loved to travel and drew inspiration from his journeys around Europe.
The Edwardian period moved away from the traditionally conservative Victorian society, there was a more relaxed feel to the era. Alongside the focus on luxury, there were advancements in technology; middle to upper class households may have found themselves with electricity, telephones and even cars.
In contrast to the heavy, dark gothic influences that characterised the Victorian period came a more cheerful, light style during the Edwardian period. The style was fresh and informal, with elements of feminity and light.
Floral patterns, flowers and pastel colours added to the design element of the era, although there was simplicity to the designs in comparison to Victorian designs, with houses being plainer. Stained glass was popular and William Morris wallpaper designs were favourable.
The main design influences of the period were Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movements, with the Queen Anne style gaining in popularity later in the period. Edwardian baroque style was largely followed in architecture; there was a definite change from the eclectic styles that were favoured during Victorian times.
Medieval styles, as well as Japanese art and the Socialist movement that happened after Industrialisation largely influenced the Arts and Crafts movement. William Morris, William de Morgan and Richard Shaw were all influential names from this period, although William Morris’ lifespan was prior to the Edwardian period, his influence still lasted into the Edwardian period. The Arts and Craft movement saw a revival in individual craftsmanship.
The decorative style of Art Nouveau favoured flowing lines and organic forms, the architecture by Gaudi was demonstrative of the Art Nouveau designs of the time. Art Nouveau evolved from the Arts and Crafts movement and aestheticism, it was far simpler than the fussiness of Victorian pieces. Art Nouveau pieces by Gustav Klimt also saw a Japanese and folk art influence. Motifs were typically inspired from nature, with birds, insects and flowers prominent in designs.
Two of the biggest Art Nouveau designers were Louis Comfort Tiffany, who created highly coveted lamps and glass objects and Rene Lalique, who created exquisite jewellery. Art Nouveau designs were particularly favoured by the upper classes, offering wealthy Edwardians inspiration for their households.
Edwardian Furniture, Jewellery and Silver
Thomas Sheraton’s furniture was popular during this period. During the Edwardian period bamboo and wicker furniture was first introduced, designs were largely influenced by the Baroque and Empire styles, as well as Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement. Tiffany lamps, particularly bronze female figurine lamps, were lovely antique pieces from the Edwardian era and would make a nice addition to a home.
Arts and Crafts furniture was made from wood, oak was particularly popular, these pieces were handmade and often featured cut out upside down hearts and copper and leather straps. Colours were generally creams, yellows, greens and terracotta’s. Edwardian fireplaces were generally smaller than their Victorian counterpart, however Arts and Crafts fireplaces were often very large with wide hearths and the mantelpiece would have likely being carved.
Edwardian jewellery was typically elegant and graceful, light and delicate, soft and romantic, and perfect for a lady with class and sophistication. The use of filigree techniques was extremely popular. A lace effect was also created by adding threads of precious metal such as platinum and gold on rings and bracelets. Chokers were also a very fashionable piece of jewellery.
Edwardian jewellery drew on an element of simplicity, a classic look, French baroque influence can also be seen in jewellery pieces from this time, with bows, tassels, flowers and scrolls all being popular motifs on Edwardian jewellery.
Rene Lalique made some of the most highly coveted jewellery from the Edwardian period; his delicate pieces featuring depictions of nature, with leaves and flowers are considered very beautiful, he often used glass in his jewellery rather than gemstones. Other notable jewellers were Faberge and Cartier.
Rings were set with diamonds and pearls and made from platinum. There was a new emphasis on diamonds, and engagement rings often featured single diamonds; signet rings and engraved rings were also common. Platinum was particularly popular, with the white on white appearance very much favoured during the era.
Edwardian silverware was often light and delicate it is possible to pick up some very attractive Edwardian silver candelabras, that would be a nice addition to one’s home. Silver dinnerware was popular during this period and it is possible to pick up sets of high quality silver cutlery. Edwardian silversmiths made a vast array of different finishes and styled canteens. Edwardian silverware was often in imitation styles from earlier periods. During the Edwardian period most antique silver was made either in Sheffield, London or Birmingham.
Whatever ones preferences there is a considerable variety of antiques to choose from the Edwardian period, be it an Art Nouveau tiffany lamp, an Edwardian silver canteen or an Arts and Crafts cupboard.