Spanning between 1714 and 1837, the Georgian period was preceded by the Stuart period, an extremely long period there are a large number of unique Georgian antiques available. During the Georgian period George I, George II, George III, George IV and William IV reigned as King’s. Georgian furniture and antiques have become increasingly popular in recent years.
The Georgian style became lighter throughout the one-hundred-and-twenty-three-year period, with regard to decoration, colours and design. Earlier Georgian style veered towards burgundy’s, greens and grey’s, however colours became muted over time, with soft dusky pinks and Wedgwood blues gaining in popularity. There was a chinoiserie feel to the décor, with soft furnishings such as cotton fabrics featuring small, delicate sprigs of flowers; often upper class Georgian homes had matching curtains and upholstery.
Earlier Georgian furniture was sturdy and heavy, however as time passed symmetry, light and space determined the delicate furniture that was later made.
The influences in the Georgian period included the ‘Palladian style’, the Orient and Europe, namely Italian design influences. During this period upper classes would partake in the ‘Grand Tour’, which meant they travelled around the continent drawing inspiration for their homes.
The Palladian style was popular between the years 1714 to 1760, named after the Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance architect in Italy. Palladianism was a classic British style, which drew on the work of the Venetian architect, although other Palladian influences of note were Colen Campbell, Leone Battista and Inigo Jones. Palladian designs were often proportionate and symmetrical.
Between 1750 and 1790 neoclassicism gained in popularity, very much championed by Robert Adam, the style came to the forefront in France and UK during this time. Neoclassicism favoured classic motifs and forms that were previously present in Ancient Greece and Rome. Neoclassicism designs were elegant and favoured symmetry, Robert Adams neoclassicism drew upon elements of Palladian designs.
Later in the Georgian period, by the time of William IV, the Regency style was favoured, a lavish style, influences of these designs included Prince Regent and Thomas Hope. The Regency style again drew upon Ancient Greece and Rome for its inspiration, with the theme of the designs relying on pure, strong structures.
It is also of note that the feminine designs of the Rococo style were also present throughout the Georgian period. Influential architects were Robert Adam, James Wyatt, and John Nash. The romantic feel of many Georgian designs were also reflected in the literature of the time, namely by Burns, Blake and Wordsworth.
Georgian Furniture, Jewellery and Silver
The later Georgian period is often thought of as the golden age of furniture designing. Hugely influential furniture makers of the Georgian period were George Hepplewhite (1760-1790), Robert Adam (1760-1792), Sheraton (1790-1806) and Thomas Chippendale (1745-1780). Furniture made by these men is considered extremely valuable, and are very worthy of investment. A Chippendale or Sheraton cabinet is highly coveted.
Chippendale Georgian furniture had elements of rococo, neoclassicism and oriental influences incorporated across his designs, renowned for his craftsmanship. Chippendale furniture’s legs often featured a lion’s paw, a club or a ball and claw; the legs were either straight or the cabriole shape. Particularly popular were his rococo chinoiserie cabinets. Hepplewhite’s designs included shield backed chairs, camelback sofas, these were particularly favoured in the later part of the 18th C.
Georgian pieces are likely to be made from oak or mahogany; prior to 1730 walnut was the wood of preference. However when mahogany was imported, firstly from Cuba then Honduras, it was used to make the large majority of formal furniture produced during the time, as it was more durable.
Key pieces of furniture from this period include sideboards, kneehole desks, cabinets, chaise longues, four-poster beds and washstands. Furniture was often very delicate, winged chairs were a very popular choice. That is not to say all furniture was delicate, William Kent created neo-Palladian furniture that was often heavy and elaborate, namely catering for the richer market.
A Georgian chandelier is a nice piece made from glass, wood and metal, with curved arms. The fireplace was a focal point in a Georgian home and it is possible to pick some beautiful antique Georgian fireplaces. Screens, fans and porcelain with oriental influences decorated rooms and oriental rugs were popular to cover floors.
With regard to ceramics, vases were extremely popular in the second half of the 18th C, after discoveries made at Pompeii in Italy. Cameo’s and human figures were popular features, as were real animals and mythical creatures. Josiah Wedgwood (1735-1795) was a leader in Georgian neoclassical ceramics.
Regency furniture featured Egyptian motifs, and furniture was often painted or metals were applied, Regency furniture tended to have flat surfaces, they were not carved and had no contours. With regard to pieces of Georgian silver, the company Rundell and Bridge dominated this field in the Regency era.
Silversmith techniques advanced greatly during the Georgian period, a lot of silver objects were made for royalty and religious purposes. A worthy silversmith of note from this time was Paul Lamerie, who incorporated Rococo designs in his silverware.
Georgian jewellery was inspired by a number of styles including Rococo, Gothic revival and Neoclassical. In the earlier part of the Georgian period larger stones were favoured in the Rococo design, as were white crystals and diamonds; diamonds being particularly popular. Georgian gems were often enclosed rather than with open backs, later, rather than white stones or diamonds, coloured gems such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds became popular.
Georgian jewellery was made from silver and gold, as platinum had yet to be discovered, a gold substitute was also created called pinchbeck. Necklaces were often shorter during this period, with chokers or dog collars being a popular choice. Memorial jewellery was also very fashionable, either painted with funeral scenes or holding a locket of hair for instance. All jewellery was handmade during the Georgian period.
The Georgian period offers an array of beautiful and varied antiques to choose from.