Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rococo Revival Furniture


Rococo (pronouned roh-cocoa) Revival was an effort during the early to mid-Victorian period (around 1845-1870) to revive the Rococo Louis XV style that had originated in France in the early 18th century; however, the 19th century Revival has much more exaggerated curves and intricate and realistic carved ornamentation.

One of the most famous makers of Rococo Revival for the luxury market was German-born John Henry Belter of New York City. Belter (1804-1863) created elaborate lacy pieces from laminated rosewood panels using a technique that he patented. Several layers of wood were glued together in alternating directions to give it strength, and the panels were then steamed under pressure in molds to produce curves. After that, the furniture components were carved in intricate patterns of scrolls, fruit, and flowers (source: Kovel’s On Antiques and Collecting). Belter was famous for his large and exuberant parlor room sofas, which are embellished with bouquets of naturalistic blooms.

Image 1 below, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a superb example of Belter's high-end sofas.

Image 1

Another company, J. and J.W. Meeks, also of New York, made similarly ornate pieces. See image 2 of a pair of walnut chairs by Meeks, circa 1850 (image courtesy of Timeless Antiques, Laguna Beach, CA).

Image 2

Other notable markers of this style were Alexander Roux, Charles Baudouine, Leon Marcotte, and Ignatiius Lutz.

DID YOU KNOW that most of the Rococo Revival furniture were pieces designed for the parlor (rather than, say, for the dining area or library)? The curved, often pierced carved wood pieces appeared more "feminine" and therefore were more conducive to the parlor - the "domain" of the lady of the house.