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Title: Ancient and Modern Furniture and Woodwork
Author: Pollen, John Hungerford
Language: English
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_These Handbooks are reprints of the dissertations prefixed to the
large catalogues of the chief divisions of works of art in the Museum
at South Kensington; arranged and so far abridged as to bring each
into a portable shape. The Lords of the Committee of Council on
Education having determined on the publication of them, the editor
trusts that they will meet the purpose intended; namely, to be useful,
not alone for the collections at South Kensington but for other
collections, by enabling the public at a trifling cost to understand
something of the history and character of the subjects treated of._

_The authorities referred to in each book are given in the large
catalogues; where will also be found detailed descriptions of the very
numerous examples in the South Kensington Museum._

  W. M.
  _August, 1875._







  _Published for the Committee of Council on Education_






  CHAPTER                                           PAGE

     I  Furniture Ancient and Modern                   1
    II  Antique: Egypt, Nineveh and Greece             4
   III  The Romans                                    17
    IV  Byzantine Art                                 29
     V  The Middle Ages                               41
    VI  The Fifteenth Century                         59
   VII  The Renaissance in Italy                      66
  VIII  Renaissance in England, Flanders,
          France, Germany, ans Spain                  78
    IX  Tudor and Stuart Styles                       85
     X  Furniture of the Eighteenth Century          103
    XI  Changes of Taste and Style                   116
        Appendix: Names of the Designers of
          Woodwork and Makers of Furniture           133
        Index                                        140



  Egyptian chair                                       4

  Assyrian chairs                                      7

  Greek chair                                         10

  Greek chairs                                        11

  Greek couches                                       13

  Greek mirror                                        14

  Greek chariot                                       15

  Pompeian interior                                   19

  Roman tripod                                        22

  Roman candelabra                                    23

  Roman candelabra                                    24

  Roman table                                         26

  Roman couch                                         27

  Roman ceremonial chair                              28

  Roman _sella_                                       28

  Roman kitchen utensils                              30

  St. Peter's chair                                   35

  The chair of king Dagobert                          43

  Anglo-norman bedstead                               46

  The Coronation chair                                49

  Interior of English mediæval bedroom                51

  Anglo-saxon dinner-table                            52

  Dinner-table of middle-class, fifteenth  century    53

  Table of fifteenth century                          53

  Travelling carriage of fifteenth century;
    "Tullia driving over the body of her father"      55

  Oriental panels                                     57

  A royal dinner-table of the fourteenth century      58

  French panel; fifteenth century                     60

  Venetian cornice                                    68

  Portion of carved Italian chest                     69

  Venetian chair                                      71

  Italian bellows                                     72

  Another example                                     73

  Knife-case; 1564                                    76

  Carved panels                                       80

  French table; sixteenth century                     81

  French panel; 1577                                  82

  English panel; about 1590                           86

  French cabinet; sixteenth century                   88

  Italian oak pedestal                                90

  Venetian mirror-frame                               91

  German arm-chair; seventeenth century               93

  English bracket; about 1660                         97

  English doorway; about 1690                         98

  Venetian looking-glass                             100

  Holy-water stoup                                   101

  English dinner-table; 1633                         102

  Italian distaff                                    106

  Roman _triclinium_                                 117

  Bedstead; fifteenth century                        118

  The great bed of Ware                              119

  Bedstead at Hampton Court                          120

  Mediæval room                                      120

  Cradle; fifteenth century                          121

  Folding chair; fifteenth century                   122

  Italian chair; sixteenth century                   123

  Antique Roman tables                               125

  Folding table; English, 1620(?)                    126

  Mediæval chest                                     127

  Roman carriages                                    130

  English carriage; fourteenth century               131

  State carriages                                    132




The study of a collection of old furniture has an interest beyond
the mere appreciation of the beauty it displays. The carving or the
ornaments that decorate the various pieces and the skill and ingenuity
with which they are put together are well worthy of our attention. A
careful examination of them carries us back to the days in which
they were made and to the taste and manners, the habits and the
requirements, of bygone ages. The Kensington museum, for example,
contains chests, caskets, cabinets, chairs, carriages, and utensils of
all sorts and of various countries. Some of these have held the bridal
dresses, fans, and trinkets of French and Italian beauties, whose sons
and daughters for many generations have long gone to the dust; there
are inlaid folding chairs used at the court of Guido Ubaldo, in
the palace of Urbino, and of other Italian princes of the fifteenth
century; buffets and sideboards that figured at mediæval feasts; boxes
in which were kept the jesses and bells of hawks; love-tokens of
many kinds, christening-spoons, draught and chess men, card boxes,
belonging to the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries;
carriages of the London of Cromwell and Hogarth, and of the Dublin of
Burke; panelling of the date of Raleigh; a complete room made for a
lady of honour to Marie Antoinette.

Besides these memorials of periods comparatively well known to us, we
shall find reproductions of the furniture of ages the habits of which
we know imperfectly, such as the chair of Dagobert, and various relics
illustrating the old classic manners and civilisation, as they have
come down to us from Roman and Greek artists, and brought to light by
the discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii.

The field through which a collection of old furniture stretches is
too wide to be filled with anything like completeness; but the South
Kensington collection is already rich in some very rare examples, such
as carved chests and cabinets, decorated with the most finished wood
carving of Flanders, France, and Italy, as well as of our own country.

As wood is the material of which furniture for domestic use has
generally been made, there are, of course, limits to its endurance,
and not much furniture is to be found anywhere older than the
renaissance. Objects for domestic use, such as beds, chairs, chests,
tables, &c., are rare, and have not often been collected together.
The museum of the hôtel de Cluny, in Paris, is the best representative
collection of woodwork anterior to the quattro or cinque cento
period--_i.e._ the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth
centuries. Some carved and gilt carriages belonging to the last
century are also there; and a set of carriages, carved and gilt, made
for state ceremonials, used during the latter part of the last century
and down to the days of the empire of Napoleon III. are, or were till
the war of 1870, kept at the Trianon at Versailles.

Many cabinets and tables in Boule work, Vernis-Martin work, and in
marquetry by Riesener, Gouthière, David, and others, in the possession
of Sir Richard Wallace, were lately exhibited in the museum at Bethnal
Green, and examples by the same artists from St. Cloud and Meudon are
in the Louvre in Paris. A fine collection of carriages, belonging to
the royal family of Portugal, is kept in Lisbon. These are decorated
in the "Vernis-Martin" method. Several old royal state carriages,
carved and gilt, the property of the emperor of Austria, are at

In order to take a general review of the kinds, forms, and changes of
personal and secular woodwork and furniture, as manners and fashions
have influenced the wants of different nations and times, it will
be well to divide the subject in chronological order into
antique; Egyptian, Ninevite, Greek, Roman:--modern; early and late
mediæval:--renaissance; seventeenth and eighteenth century work: to
be followed by an inquiry into the changes that some of the pieces of
furniture in most frequent use have undergone.



Considering the perishable nature of the material, we cannot expect
to meet with many existing specimens of the woodwork or furniture of
ancient Egypt. There are to be found, however, abundant illustrations
of these objects in the paintings and sculptures of monuments. The
most complete are on the walls of the tombs, where we see detailed
pictures of domestic life, and the interiors of houses are shown, with
entertainments of parties of ladies and gentlemen talking, listening
to music, eating and drinking. The guests are seated on chairs of
wood, framed up with sloping backs, of which specimens are in the
British museum; others are on stools or chairs of greater splendour,
stuffed and covered on the seat and back with costly textiles, having
the wooden framework carved and gilt, generally in the form of the
fore and hind legs of tigers, panthers, and other animals of the
chace, sometimes supported, as in the accompanying woodcut, on figures
representing captives.


The British museum contains six Egyptian chairs. One of these is made
of ebony, turned in the lathe and inlaid with collars and dies of
ivory. It is low, the legs joined by light rails of cane, the back
straight, with two cross-bars and light rails between. The seat is
slightly hollowed, and is of plaited cane as in modern chairs. Another
is square, also with straight back, but with pieces of wood sloped
into the seat to make it comfortable for a sitter. Small workmen's
stools of blocks of wood hollowed out and with three or four legs
fastened into them may also be referred to, and a table on four legs
tied by four bars near the lower ends.

The Egyptians used couches straight, like ottomans; with head boards
curving over as in our modern sofas, sometimes with the head and
tail of an animal carved on the ends, and the legs and feet carved
to correspond. These were stuffed and covered with rich material.
The Egyptians did not recline at meals. Their double seats, [Greek:
diphroi], or bisellia, were such as were used by the Greeks and
Romans. They had shelves and recesses, chests and coffers, made
of pine or cedar wood, and of a material still used in Egypt, the
_cafass_--palm sticks formed into planks by thin pegs or rods of
harder wood passing through a series of these sticks laid together.
"Of their bedroom furniture," says Sir Gardner Wilkinson, "we know but
little." They used (he tells us) their day couches probably, or lay
on mats, and on low wooden pallets made of palm sticks. These last had
curved blocks, which served for a pillow, forming a hollow to receive
the head. Examples in alabaster and wood are in the Louvre and in the
British museum.

Their materials for dress were of the most delicate and costly
description. The robes of the ladies were often transparent, and the
gold and silver tissues, muslins, and gossamer fabrics made in India
and Asia were probably also used in Egypt. All these, as well as their
jewels and valuables, imply corresponding chests and smaller
coffers. Small toilet boxes elegantly carved into the form or with
representations of leaves and animals, are preserved in the Louvre and
in the British museum and other collections. They were generally
of sycamore wood, sometimes of tamarisk or sont (acacia), and
occasionally the more costly ivory or inlaid work was substituted for
wood. Larger boxes may also be seen in the Louvre, some large enough
to contain dresses. They are square, with flat, curved, or gable tops,
painted on the surface, and generally lifted from the ground by four
short legs or prolongations of the rails that form the framework.
These boxes are dovetailed, and secured by glue and nails.

Their chariots and the harness of their horses were rich in
proportion, the former painted, inlaid with ivory and gold, or with
surface gilding, containing cases for their bows and arms, and made of
wood filled in with the lightest materials, perhaps canvas stiffened
with preparations of lac in the Japanese manner, and put together with
a skill that made the carriage-makers of Egypt famous in their day.
It will be sufficient to add that the great Jewish kings had their
chariots supplied from Egypt. Solomon paid about £75 of our money for
a chariot, and of these he kept (for war purposes alone) a force of
fourteen hundred, with forty thousand horses.

Mummy cases of cedar, a material readily procured and valued for
its preservative qualities, are to be seen in many collections,
and examples can be examined in the British museum. They are richly
decorated with hieroglyphic paintings executed in tempera, and
varnished with gum mastic.

The furniture of Nineveh is not so elaborately or completely
represented as that of Egypt, where the preservation of sculpture and
painting was helped out by a climate of extraordinary dryness. But
the discoveries of Mr. Layard have thrown on the details of Ninevite
domestic life light enough to give us the means of forming a judgment
on their furniture.

"Ornaments," says Mr. Layard, "in the form of the heads of animals,
chiefly the lion, bull, and ram, were very generally introduced,
even in parts of the chariot, the harness of the horses, and domestic
furniture." In this respect the Assyrians resembled the Egyptians.
"Their tables, thrones, and couches were made both of metal and wood,
and probably inlaid with ivory. We learn from Herodotus that those in
the temple of Belus in Babylon were of solid gold."



According to Mr. Layard, the chair represented in the earliest
monuments is without a back, and the legs tastefully carved. This
form occurs in the palace of Nimrúd, and is sculptured on one of the
bas-reliefs now in the British museum. Often the legs ended in the
feet of a lion or the hoofs of a bull, and were made of gold, silver,
or bronze. "On the monuments of Khorsabad and by the rock tablets of
Malthaiyah we find representations of chairs supported by animals
and by human figures, sometimes prisoners, like the Caryatides of the
Greeks. In this they resemble the arm-chairs of Egypt, but appear to
have been more massive. This mode of ornamenting the throne of the
king was adopted by the Persians, and is seen in the sculpture of
Persepolis." The woodcut represents such a chair, from a bas-relief
at Khorsabad. The lion head and lion foot were used by other oriental
nations. The throne of king Solomon was supported by lions for arms,
probably in the same position as the horses in the Khorsabad chair;
and lions of gold or chryselephantine work stood six on each side on
the six steps before the throne.

The forms of furniture of a later date in the sculptures of Nineveh
at Khorsabad are of an inferior style. "The chairs have generally more
than one cross-bar, and are somewhat heavy and ill-proportioned, the
feet resting upon large inverted cones, resembling pine-apples."
All these seats, like the [Greek: diphroi] and _sellæ_ of important
personages in Greece and Rome, were high enough to require a
footstool. "On the earlier monuments of Assyria footstools are very
beautifully carved or modelled. The feet were ornamented, like those
of the chair, with the feet of lions or the hoofs of bulls."

The tables seem in general to have been of similar form and decoration
to the thrones or seats, the ends of the frame projecting and carved
as in the woodcut above, only on a larger scale. The couches were of
similar form, but made of gold and silver, stuffed and covered on the
surface with the richest materials. The tables and the chairs were
often made in the shape also found in Greece and Rome, with folding
supports that open on a central rivet like our camp-stools, and like
the curule chairs which were common not only in Rome but throughout
Italy during the renaissance.

A large piece of wood of pine or cedar is in the British museum. It is
of a full red colour, the effect of time. Cedar was probably most in
use; but both in Egypt and Nineveh, as also in Judæa under Solomon
and his successors, woods were imported from Europe and India; ebony
certainly, perhaps rosewood, teak, and Indian walnut. Ebony and
ivory were continually used for inlaying furniture. Of their bedroom
furniture we can say little, nor do we know of what kind were the
cabinets or chests made to preserve their dresses and valuables. It is
probable, however, that these were occasionally as rich and elaborate
as any of their show or state furniture.

Of Hebrew furniture we can give few details. It is probable that
the Jews differed but little from the Assyrians in this respect. The
throne of Solomon has been already noticed. In the story of Judith the
canopy and curtains of the bed of Holofernes may have been taken
by the chronicler from familiar examples at home, or may have been
strictly drawn from traditional details. In the figurative language of
the Canticles, the bed of Solomon is of cedar of Lebanon, the pillars
of silver, the bottom of gold. Ordinary bedroom furniture is spoken of
in the Chronicles, when the Shunamite woman, a person of great wealth,
built for the prophet Elias "a little chamber on the wall, and set
therein a bed, a table, a stool, and a candlestick." Ivory wardrobes
are mentioned in the 45th psalm, but of what size or form we cannot
determine. In the book of Esther allusions are made to Persian
furniture decorations, white, green, and blue hangings fastened with
fine linen to silver rings and pillars of marble. The beds were of
gold and silver, &c. The bed of Og, king of Bashan, was nine cubits
long by four, and was of iron: it was preserved as a trophy.

As the chariots of Solomon were made in Egypt, and the artists
employed on the Temple came from Tyre, it is not unreasonable to
suppose that furniture was either made by foreign workmen, or that
the Hebrews borrowed freely the forms and decorations of surrounding
Asiatic nations. Though specially and purposely jealous of any
innovation or interference with religious rites and observances, we
have no cause to think that they objected to the use of furniture or
utensils such as they found first during the long sojourn in Egypt,
and afterwards in other countries. They are said in earlier times to
have spoiled the Egyptians with reference to the ornaments and jewels
carried away at the migration. We know that Moses was "learned in
all the wisdom of the Egyptians;" and two particular artists, and
two only, are named in the book of Exodus as qualified to execute the
sacred vessels and utensils. Whatever their technical qualifications
were, these had been acquired in Egypt.

In any attempt to picture to ourselves the kind of furniture and
objects of daily use apart from chariots, arms, &c., that surrounded
the Greeks in early ages, it will be necessary to bear in mind the
close connection which that people must have had with the Asiatic
races, and the splendour and refinement that surrounded the wealthy
civilisation of the oriental monarchies.

They were so continually the allies or the rivals of the various
states in Asia Minor, and pushed out into that fertile region so many
vigorous colonies, that it cannot be doubted that the splendid stuffs,
beds, couches, thrones, chariots, &c., used by Greeks on the Asiatic
continent or in Europe, had much of eastern character in form and
method of execution; perhaps, at first, in decoration also. This
woodcut represents a chair of Assyrian character on a bas-relief from
Xanthus, in the British museum.


Much that is oriental figures in poetic accounts of the arms,
furniture, and equipments of the Greek heroic ages. The chiefs take
the field in chariots. These could have been used but in small numbers
on ground so uneven as the rocky territories of the Morea. The
beds described by Homer, the coverlids of dyed wool, tapestries, or
carpets, and other instances of coloured and showy furniture, were
genuine descriptions of objects known and seen, though not common.
Generally the furniture of the heroic age was simple. Two beds of
bronze of Tartessus, one Dorian and one Ionian, the smallest weighing
fifty talents, of uncertain date, were kept in the treasury at Altis,
and seen there by Pausanias towards the end of the second century. The
chariots differed little except in the ornamental carving, modelling,
or chasing, from those of Egypt.

The oldest remaining models of Greek furniture to which we can point
are the chairs in which the antique figures in the Syrian room at
the British museum are seated. These are dated six, or nearly six,
centuries before Christ. They represent chairs with backs, quite
perpendicular in front and behind. The frame-pieces of the seats are
morticed into the legs, and the mortices and tenons are accurately
marked in the marble, the horizontal passing right through the upright
bars. These early pieces of furniture were probably executed in wood,
not metal, which was at first but rarely used. The woodcuts show the
different forms taken from antique bas-reliefs.


The chest or coffer in which Cypselus of Corinth had been concealed
was seen by Pausanias in the temple of Olympia. It was made about the
middle of the sixth century B.C. The chest was of cedar, carved and
decorated with figures and bas-reliefs, some in ivory, some in gold or
ivory partly gilt, which were inlaid on the four sides and on the top.
The subjects of the sculpture were old Greek myths and local legends,
and traditions connected with the country. This coffer is supposed to
have been executed by Eumelos of Corinth.

The great period of Greek art began in the fifth century B.C.; but
those were not days favourable to the development of personal luxury
among the citizens. An extreme simplicity in private manners balanced
the continual publicity and political excitement of Greek life. The
rich classes, moreover, had little inducement to make any display
of their possessions. The state enjoyed an indefinite right to the
property of its members; the lawgiver in Plato declared "ye are
not your own, still less is your property your own." In Sparta the
exclusive training for war admitted of no manner of earning money by
business. In Athens the poorer class had so exclusively the upper
hand of the rich that the latter had to provide the public with
entertainments of sacrificial solemnities, largesses of corn, and
banquets. "The demos," says the author of the "Gentile and the Jew,"
"understood the squeezing of the rich like sponges." Greece was the
paradise of the poor.

It is therefore to be expected that the sculpture of the day, though
employed sometimes upon the decoration of thrones or state seats,
chariots, chests, looking-glasses, tripods, as the painting was
on walls, vases, and movable pictures on panels, should have been
employed mostly in temples and, with occasional exceptions, on objects
of some public use. The chest described above was kept as a relic,
and the elaborately carved thrones in the temples were those of the
statues of gods and heroes. Ivory and gold laid over a substructure
of olive wood were the materials quite as frequently used by great
sculptors as marble or bronze for statues which did not form parts
of the actual decorations of their architecture. In later times these
materials were used in sumptuous furniture.

The Greeks used couches for sleeping and resting upon, but not for
reclining on at meals, till the Macedonian period. We give two or
three examples, from marbles: one of which resembles the modern sofa.
Women sat always, as in Rome, sometimes on the couch at the head or
foot, on which the master of the house or a guest reclined, generally
on chairs. Besides chairs like the one represented here, the Greeks
made arm-chairs; and folding chairs of metal. In the Parthenon frieze
Jupiter is seated in a square seat on thick turned legs, with a round
bar for a back, resting on short turned posts fitted into the seat.
The arms are less high than the back; they are formed by slight bars
framed into the uprights at the back, and resting on winged sphinxes.





Mirrors of mixed metal alloys, silver, tin, and copper, have come down
to our times in great numbers. They were made occasionally in pure
silver, and in gold probably among the Greeks as they were in later
times among the Romans. The cases are of bronze, and engraved with
figure designs of the highest character. There is, however, no proof
that these were used as furniture in houses, as in Rome. They are hand
mirrors, and the description of them, as works of art, belongs rather
to that of antique bronzes. The woodcut shows the usual type, with the
richly ornamented handle.


Designs of the Greek couch, whether for sleeping or for reclining
at meals, are abundant on tomb paintings, and sculptures, and on the
paintings of vases. In the British museum we may see a large vase in
the second vase room, on which a couch for two persons is arranged
with a long mattress covered with rich material, lying within what
appears to be a border of short turned rails with a cushion on
each end, also covered with rich striped material. A long low stool
decorated with ivory lies below the couch as a kind of step. The
legs, as in many vase representations, are thick turned supports with
lighter parts below, and a turned knob at the foot. On another vase
Dionysus reclines on a thick round cushion at the head of the couch,
while Ariadne sits on it. Figures feasting or stretched in death
on similar couches can be seen in two beautiful and perfect funeral
chests in the Ægina room. All these pieces of furniture seem made
of or decorated with ivory, and furnished with coloured cushions or
coverings of an oriental character. Tripods were made of bronze in
great number for sacred use, and probably also as the supports of
brasiers, tables, &c., in private houses. The tables were of wood,
marble, and metal; the supports being either lion or leopard legs
and heads, or sphinxes with lifted wings, a favourite form in Greek

With regard to Greek houses generally, their arrangements differed
very little from the earlier houses of the Romans. The bas-relief in
the British museum--Bacchus received as a guest by Icarus--represents
a couch with turned legs, the feet of which are decorated with leaf
work; a plain square stool, perhaps the top of a box, on which
masks are laid, and a tripod table with lion legs. The houses in the
background are tiled. The windows are divided into two lights by an
upright mullion or column, and a bas-relief of a charioteer driving
two horses ornaments a portion of the wall, and may be intended for
a picture hung up or fixed against the wall. The whole shows us
an Athenian house, decked for a festive occasion, and garlands and
hangings are festooned round its outer walls.

The Greek chariot was of wood, probably similar to that of the
Egyptians. It had sometimes wheels with four strong spokes only, as in
the woodcut. The chariot wheel of the car of Mausolus, in the British
museum, has six. The Ninevite wheels have sometimes as many as twelve,
as may be seen in the sculptured bas-reliefs of the narrow Assyrian
gallery of the British museum.


The woods used by the Greeks for sculpture were ebony, cypress, cedar,
oak, _smilax_, yew, willow, _lotus_, and citron. These materials were
rarely left without enrichments of ivory, gold, and colour. The faces
of statues were painted vermilion, the dresses, crowns, or other
ornaments were gilt or made in wrought gold.



The splendour that surrounded the personal usages of the earlier races
of antiquity, the Egyptians, Ninevites, Persians, Greeks, and Tuscans,
was inherited by the Romans. Not only did they outlive those powers,
but they absorbed their territory as far as they could reach it; they
affected to take in their religions and deities to add to their own
system; they drained the subject populations for slaves, and eagerly
adopted from them every art that could administer to the magnificence
and luxury of their own private life. They have left both written
records in their literature and actual examples of their furniture,
made in metal or of marble. The discovery of Herculaneum and of
Pompeii has given us not only single pieces of furniture, but very
considerable remains of houses, shops, streets, fora or open public
places of assembly, theatres, and baths. It is in such evidences of
Roman social life that we shall find the materials for our present

The Romans spent their earlier ages in unceasing struggles for
independence and dominion: and so long as the elder powers of Italy
survived to dispute the growth of Roman greatness, there could not be
much expansion of private wealth or splendour in the houses of
Roman citizens. Though surrounded by splendid social life among the
Etruscans, the Roman people long remained exceptionally simple in
personal habits. It was after the Punic wars that oriental luxuries
found their way into Italy along with the Carthaginian armies.
Tapestry is said to have been first brought to Rome by Attalus, the
king of Pergamus, who died B.C. 133 possessed of immense wealth, and
bequeathed tapestries, generally used in the east from the early ages,
to the Roman citizens. When Augustus became emperor the conquest of
the world was complete. Thenceforward military habits and simplicity
of individual life were no longer necessary to a state that could find
no political rivals. The great capital of the world absorbed like a
vast vegetable growth the thought, the skill, and the luxuries of
the whole world. Nothing was too valuable to be procured by the great
Roman nobles or money-makers, and nothing too strange not to find a
place and be welcome in one or other of their vast households.

While this was so at Rome in chief, it must be remembered that
other capitals were flourishing in various countries, as wealthy, as
luxurious in their own way and degree, only less in extent and means,
and lacking that peculiar seal of supremacy that gives to the real
capital a character that is never attained in subordinate centres of
civilisation. Antioch was such a centre in the east; Alexandria in
the south. Both these great cities contained wealthy, refined, and
luxurious societies. Both were known as universities and seats of
learning. Antioch was the most debauched and luxurious; Alexandria the
most learned and refined. They did not exactly answer to the distinct
capitals of modern kingdoms and states, such as we now see flourishing
in Europe, to London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, or St. Petersburg,
because no one supreme state or city predominates over them; and
further still, no one draws the pick and choice of the intellect and
refinement of the whole of Europe to absorb them into itself as Rome
did in the old world. But, in those days, Antioch and Alexandria,
one at the head of the wealth and splendour of Asia, the other
representing Greek learning grafted on the ancient scientific and
artistic traditions of Egypt, must have contributed much to the
general fusion of "ideas" and notions on art and personal manners and
customs in the capital of the Roman empire.

The Roman house was of traditional plan, and consisted generally of
two or more square enclosures surrounded by arcades, open to the air
in the centre, but which openings could be closed in summer or winter
by awnings when the courts were not large enough to include a garden,
as the inner enclosure usually did.

The house had in front a _vestibulum_, an open space covered by a
verandah-shaped roof, sometimes enclosed by lattices, sometimes open.
An _ostium_ or lobby inside the entrance-door, deep enough to contain
a small porter's lodge on one side, led to an inner door which opened
on the _atrium_. This court had an opening to the air, and a tank for
rain water was sunk in the middle. Fountains with jets or falls of
water were not uncommon, the ancients being well acquainted with the
principle that water if brought from an elevation in pipes will force
its way up to its natural level.

Inside the _atrium_ was the _nuptiale_, the nuptial bed, and here were
kept in earliest times the _penates_, household or family divinities,
and the family hearth, though these sacred emblems were banished in
the imperial times to distant parts of the house, and statues between
the columns that supported the central roof supplied their place. The
_atrium_ was the general reception-room, like the hall in mediæval
houses, but not the dining-room. To this succeeded an inner open
court, with porticoes or corridors running round, supported on
columns, and with a fountain or basin, shrubs and flowers in the
centre, like the courts of the Alhambra. This court provided four
halls in the four corridors, which could be screened off by tapestries
and curtains. The centre was shaded in summer by canvas or carpet
awnings. In winter a wooden roof could be pushed over the open space.
Between the two halls or courts was a chamber called the _triclinium_,
or dining-room. These rooms were roofed with timber richly painted
and gilt. The roofs either hung on beams projecting from the walls,
or were supported by pillars, or were carried up to a high opening,
sloping back to the walls so as to admit more light to the rooms,
alcoves, or screened portions furthest removed from the opening.
Occasionally they were covered in wholly with a testudo-shaped roof,
and in such cases lighted, perhaps, by dormers, though it is not quite
clear how light was provided for in such constructions. Roman rooms
were not floored with boards but paved with marble in large pieces, or
in mosaic work made of small dies or squares. Coarse specimens of
such work manufactured in our own times are laid down in the museum
at Kensington, and fragments of the old work may be seen there on
the walls. Occasionally these mosaics represent the house watch-dog
chained, or the fable of Ganymede, or hunting scenes, sometimes
finished with the utmost nicety. The _triclinium_ took its name from
the three couches or sofas, on each of which three persons reclined
during meals. Later, and in sumptuous palaces, several dining-rooms
were built out beyond the inner courts. The engraving, a
reconstruction, will give a fair idea of the general character of
a richly furnished Roman house. First, is the _atrium_, into which
smaller chambers open; next, the _triclinium_, to the left of which is
a cabinet; and beyond is the _peristylium_, with its lofty colonnades.
This last apartment was large and open; often planted with shrubs
and trees, or containing statues, flowers in pots and vases, and
surrounded by a corridor. As these courts were of various sizes they
were, no doubt, in Rome on a scale out of all proportion to those
found at Pompeii; were fewer or more in number, and rooms were
added as the proprietor could acquire ground for building, often a
difficulty in the older parts of the city. Something of this ground
plan survives in a few of the very ancient Roman churches, as in
that of S. Pudenziana, formerly the house of the senator Pudens, with
vestibules, open courts, &c.


Around the inner court, in the sumptuous Roman houses and the country
villas of the patricians, were built other rooms, dining-halls, no
longer called _triclinium_ but _triclinia_ in the plural, as admitting
more than the number of nine persons reclining on the conventional
three couches, to dine at once. In the city itself room was probably
wanting in private houses for such expansion, the houses being in
streets already laid out. In the villas there was no such restriction.
These halls were built to face different quarters of the compass and
to be used according to the season. _Verna_ and _autumnalis_ looked to
the east, _hyberna_ to the west, _æstiva_ to the north. _[OE]ci_ were
other rooms still larger; and glass windows were to be found in them.
In a painting now in the Kensington museum, n^{o.} 653, given by
the emperor Napoleon the third, glazed windows can be distinguished,
divided by upright mullions and transoms of wood, such as were
constructed in English houses in the seventeenth century. The
sleeping-rooms, _cubicula_, were small closets rather than rooms,
closed in general by curtains or hangings, and disposed about the
sides of the rooms between the courts, or round the outer courts

Besides the living and sleeping chambers, there were store-rooms
for various kinds of food. Wearing apparel was kept in _vestiaria_,
wardrobe rooms, fitted especially to store them in. It is doubtful
whether the dresses were in chests: more probably in presses, or
hanging on pegs.

The ornamental woodwork in some of these rooms was rich in the
extreme. The outer vestibule was protected by an overhanging balcony
or by the projecting rafters of the roof of the first portion of the
house, according as rooms were built over that portion or not. It was
in some instances enclosed by carved or trellised woodwork. The doors
were generally in two halves and could be closed with locks, which
in the age of the empire were thoroughly understood, with latchets
secured by a pin or with a wooden bar. The term _obserare_ was used
when the security of a bar was added. The hinge was a pin or peg at
the top and bottom which turned in a socket. Metal hinges strapped
over the wood frame were not unknown: and bronze hinges are in the
collection of the British museum. The decoration of the door, which
was of wood, consisted principally of bronze mounts. The doorposts
were ornamented with carving, sometimes inlaid with tortoiseshell and
other rich materials. The woodwork was painted. Bedrooms were closed
with doors; oftener by curtains. The windows were generally closed
with shutters, hinged and in pairs. They were some six feet six inches
above the level of the street, not beyond reach of the knocks and
signals of friends outside. Wooden benches were usually provided in
the vestibule.

Besides the inlaid door frames, the ceilings of all the Roman rooms
were very richly decorated. In more simple constructions the wood
joists of the floor above, or the structure of the roof when no
room surmounted it, were shown and painted; but in richer houses the
timbers were covered with boards, and formed into coffers and
panels, painted, gilt, and inlaid with ivory. This splendid system of
decoration dates from the destruction of Carthage. Curved bearers from
the upper part of the walls were added to form one kind of ceiling
(_camara_), for which Vitruvius gives directions; and glass mosaics,
like those used in the pavements, were inlaid on a plaster bed in the
coffers. The cornices were of carved wood, or of plaster carved or
modelled; the wood was always covered with a preparation of gesso, and
gilt and painted like the walls.

An examination of the remains of Roman glass found at Pompeii and
elsewhere, and of which excellent examples may be studied in the
Kensington museum, seems to point to the use not only of mosaics made
of dies, but of mouldings, borders, and panels moulded in coloured
glass of magnificent hues, and with the finest stamped ornaments.
These were occasionally gilt, or were made in relief, or with a coat
of opaque white glass over the translucent material, which could
be cut and modelled in the manner of cameos, and helped further to
decorate the ceiling, always one of the most splendid features of the

The walls, when not painted, were sometimes hung with mirrors of glass
blackened, or of silver, or of slabs of obsidian. They were of various
sizes, sometimes large enough to reflect persons at full length. In
the case of portable pictures, frames were added round them. Borders
were certainly painted round frescoes. It is not to be supposed that
paintings which could be exposed for sale, moved about, and hung up,
could be finished round otherwise than by ornamental mouldings, or
framework sufficient to protect and properly set them off.


Among the ornamental pieces of furniture were tripods, three-legged
frames, forming the supports of tables, of altars, of braziers,
sometimes of pieces of sculpture. These were generally of bronze, and
original pieces obtained in various parts of Italy can be seen in
the bronze room of the British museum. Some of these much exceed the
height of high modern tables. They are light, and ornamented on the
upper ends with animal or other heads; some with the beginning of a
hind leg about halfway down. They were, however, frequently movable,
and, like the piece in the cut on the preceding page from an example
in the British museum, were made to contract by folding; the stays
which connect the legs internally slipping up and down them by means
of loops. Such pieces might serve as table legs, or would hold altar
pans or common fire pans or support pots of flowers.


Besides tripods the reception rooms were ornamented with candelabra on
tall stands of most graceful form and proportions. It will suffice to
point to more than a dozen of examples in the British museum; and
the woodcuts are from examples in other collections. The stems are a
fluted staff or a light tree stem, commonly supported on three animal
legs spread at the base, and branching out on the tops into one, two,
or more boughs or hooks, with elegant modelled decorations or ending
in flat stands. One has a slight rim round the dish or stand, on which
a candelabrum or wax candlestick could be placed. In other cases the
lamps were hung by their suspensory chains to the branches described.
Other candelabra stands were of marble, six, eight, ten, or more feet
in height, hybrid compositions of column caps, acanthus leaves and
stems, on altar bases, &c., in great variety of design, of which
engravings may be studied in the work of Piranesi. Casts, n^{os.} 93,
94 (antiques), are in the South Kensington museum.

We do not know in what kind of repositories or pieces of furniture the
ancient Romans kept their specimens of painting or their vases, some
of which formed their most valued treasures. It is generally supposed
that they were set on shelves fastened to the wall. On such shelves
small images, boxes of alabaster or glass, and ornamental vases of all
kinds were kept. Craters, sculptured vases on a large scale and made
of bronze or marble, were also mounted on pedestals and ranged as
ornaments with the statues. Bronzes and statues, pieces of sculpture
that had fixed places, stood either along the walls of the reception
rooms or under the eaves of the _compluvium_, whence light was
obtained to set them off to advantage, and where turf, flowers, and
fountains were in front of them. A vase or crater, nearly eight feet
high, is in the hall of the British museum, brought from the villa of
Hadrian at Palestrina; and in the entrance-hall of Nero's house there
was a colossus 120 feet high, and long arcades and a tank or basin of
water. But objects on this scale scarcely belong to the descriptions
of what might be found ordinarily in houses of the great patricians.
Sometimes a couch and a table of marble were placed close to the
fountains in these delightful portions of the house.

Tables were of many varieties in Rome, and enormous expenses were
incurred in the purchase of choice pieces of such furniture. They
were made of marble, gold, silver, bronze; were engraved, damascened,
plated, and otherwise enriched with the precious metals; were of
ivory, and of wood, and wood decorated with ivory; and in many other
methods. Engraved (p. 26) is a very beautiful table found at Pompeii,
and now at Naples. Tripods, terminal and other figures, made of bronze
or marble; winged sphinxes, or leopards' and lions' legs, columns and
other architectonic forms, were the supports on which these tables
were fastened. Some had one central support only, in a few instances
finished with animal heads of ivory. _Abaci_ were small tables with
raised rims to hold valuables.

Many tables were of cedar and on ivory feet. Horace speaks of maple,
so also does Pliny, as a favourite wood for tables: birds'-eye maple
especially was much prized. The planks and disks that could be cut
from the roots and the boles of trees that had been either pollarded
or otherwise dwarfed in growth in order to obtain wavy grain, knotted
convolutions, &c., were in request. Veneers of well-mottled wood or of
precious wood, small in scantling, were glued on pine, cedar, &c.,
as a base. These pollard heads, root pieces, &c., were bought at high
prices, specially those of the _citrus_ or _cedrus Atlantica_.


The point held to be desirable (says Pliny) in the grain of tables was
to have "veins arranged in waving lines or else forming spirals like
so many little whirlpools. In the former arrangement the lines run in
an oblong direction, for which reason they are called _tigrinæ_, tiger
tables. In the latter case they are called _pantherinæ_, or panther
tables. There are some with wavy, undulating marks, and which are more
particularly esteemed if these resemble the eyes of a peacock."

Next in esteem to these was the veined wood covered or dotted, as
it were, with dense masses of grain, for which reason such tables
received the name of _apiatæ_, parsley wood. But the colour of the
wood is the quality that was held in the highest esteem of all;
that of wine mixed with honey was the most prized, the veins being
peculiarly refulgent. The defect in that kind of table was _lignum_
(dull log colour), a name given to the wood when common-looking,
indistinct, with stains or flaws. The barbarous tribes, according to
Pliny, buried the citrus wood in the ground while green, giving it
first a coating of wax. When it came into the workman's hands it
was put for a certain number of days beneath a heap of corn. By this
process the wood lost weight. Sea-water was supposed to harden it,
and to act as a preservative. This wood was carefully polished by
hand-rubbing. As much as £9,000 (a million of sesterces) was paid for
one table by Cicero. Of two that had belonged to king Juba, sold by
auction, one fetched over £10,000. These were made of citrus (_Thuya
articulata_ or _cedrus Atlantica_). We hear of two made for king
Ptolemæus of Mauritania, the property of Nomius, a freed man of
Tiberius, formed out of two slices or sections of the _cedrus
Atlantica_ four feet and a half in diameter, the largest known to
Pliny; and of the destruction of a table, the property of the family
of the Cethegi, valued at 1,400,000 sesterces.


The Roman patricians and their ladies sat on chairs and reclined on
couches when not at meals. In the _atrium_ under the broad roofed
corridors, and in the halls not used for eating, were couches, such as
the couch of which we give a woodcut, of bronze or of precious woods;
the bronze damascened with ornaments of the precious metals, or of
metal amalgam; the wood veneered or inlaid with marquetry or tarsia
work of ivory, ebony, box, palm, birds'-eye maple, beech, and other

The chairs were of different kinds and were used for various
occasions. The _atrium_ contained double seats, single seats, and
benches to hold more than one sitter; chairs that either folded or
were made in the form of folding chairs, such as could be carried
about and placed in the chariot, _curules_. The woodcut shows the
general fashion of a state or ceremonial chair; from the marble
example in the Louvre.


This woodcut is of the _sella_, a seat or couch, made of wood, with
turned legs; it is intended, probably, for one person only, and has no
need of a footstool. It has been covered with a cushion.


_Scamnum_ was a bench or long seat of wood, used in poorer houses
instead of the luxurious _triclinium_ of the men or arm-chairs of
the women, for sitting at meals or other occasions. Seats were placed
along the walls in the _exedræ_ or saloons; marble benches in most
cases, sometimes wooden seats; particularly also in the alcoves that
were constructed in the porticoes of baths and public buildings, where
lectures of philosophers were listened to.

The Romans had hearths in certain rooms. Numerous passages in ancient
writers, to which it is needless to refer, concur in showing that the
hearth was a spot sacred to the _lares_ of the family, the altar
of family life. It was occasionally made of bricks or stone, and
immovable, on which logs could be heaped. It seems doubtful whether
chimneys were used in the Roman houses; probably occasionally. Writers
on Roman antiquities speak of such rare constructions used, perhaps,
as ventilators to the kitchen. The usual method of warming was by
means of a brazier, of which an example found at Cære, in Etruria, is
preserved in the British museum. It is a round dish on three animal
legs, with swing handles for removing it. Another, square in form,
is reproduced in a casting in the South Kensington museum collection,
n^{o.} 70, standing on animal legs and damascened round the sides with
gold ornaments. The Romans had also kitchen braziers with contrivances
for heating pans, water, wine, &c., by charcoal. N^{o.} 71 at
South Kensington is a casting of such a piece, having a round metal
receptacle, like a small cask, on its end, and a raised horse-shoe
frame, on which a pan could be placed, with fire space in the middle.
These braziers were filled with charcoal heated thoroughly by the help
of the bellows, to get rid of the noxious gases.

It has been said that the dresses of the Romans were preserved, as in
mediæval castles, in a separate room or wardrobe, and this room must
have been fitted with apparatus for hanging shelves and lockers.
They had besides for keeping valuables, and usually placed in the
sleeping-room of the master or mistress of the house, cupboards and
chests of beech ornamented with metal, some large enough to contain
a man. In these receptacles they conveyed their property to and from
country houses, and on visits. Enormous numbers of slaves moved to and
fro with the family, and the chests were carried on men's shoulders,
or in waggons of various shape and make.

The most important action of the luxurious Roman day was the dinner.
Couches were arranged for the guests, and the room was further
provided with stools or low benches, side tables, and the movable
table used for each course. These tables were put down and removed
from the supports on which they stood. The side tables were of
marble or of wood, covered with silver plates, inlaid, veneered, and
ornamented in various ways; some were used for serving the dishes,
others for the display of plate.

Sculptured objects of plate, partly ornamental, were put on the table
and removed with the courses. Petronius describes an ass of Corinthian
bronze with silver paniers as the centre piece of one course; sauces
dropped from the paniers on luscious morsels placed beneath. A hen of
wood with eggs within and a figure of Vertumnus are also named by the
same author as centre pieces. These were replaced on the sideboard or
removed with the course in trays.


Closely connected with the dining-room was, it need scarcely be
said, the kitchen; and we give woodcuts of kitchen utensils, from the
originals preserved at Naples.

Mention should be made of tapestries and carpets before leaving the
subject of Roman house furniture.

Carpets, _tapete_, blankets, or other woollen coverlids for sofas or
beds, were made at Corinth, Miletus, and a number of seats of fine
wool manufacture. It is too large a question to go into in detail, and
woven fabrics belong to a different class of objects fully described
in another hand-book, upon textiles. These tapestries played a great
part in the actual divisions of the Roman rooms. Bedrooms, it has
been said, were often closed with curtains only, and the corridors and
smaller rooms were closed at the ends and made comfortable by the
same means. At the dinner detailed by Petronius the hangings on the
_triclinia_ are changed between pauses in the meal. The feelings
consonant with the day or occasion were symbolized or carried out in
these external decorations. Mention is made by Seneca of ceilings
made so as to be moved, and portions turned by machinery; perhaps the
changed panels showed different colours and decorations according to
the day, and to the hangings which were used. The same author alludes
to wood ceilings that could be raised higher or lower by machinery,
"_pegmata per se surgentia_ et tabulata _tacite in sublime
crescentia_," making no noise in the operation. These contrivances
were reserved for dining-rooms, where the diversions were of the
freest description and the guests prepared for any exciting or
sensational interludes.

The Romans required some of their furniture for out-door use. Besides
the curule chairs and lofty seats which were carried into theatres or
baths, and other places of public resort, they used litters. The sofas
or couches were sometimes carried on the necks of six or more slaves,
and served as litters. But special contrivances like the Indian
palanquins were made with or hung under poles, with curtains or
shutters. Stations of such conveyances for public use were established
in Rome.

The subjects of the carving and ornamentation of Roman furniture were
the classic legends mainly derived from the Greek mythology. Roman
house walls were, however, in later years profusely decorated with
conventional representations of architecture, and panels richly
coloured on which were painted figures of dancers, cupids, gods and
heroes; sometimes commonplace landscapes and domestic scenes. Their
solid furniture was decorated with masks, heads of heroes, legs and
feet of animals, and foliage, generally the leaves of the acanthus, of
an architectonic kind.

The great achievement of the Romans in woodwork of a constructive kind
was the machinery contrived for public shows, such as the cages shot
up out of the sand of the arena of amphitheatres, of which the sides
fell down, leaving at liberty the beasts wanted for fights or for the
execution of criminals. Of such constructions probably nothing in the
middle ages, when timber abounded and the use of it was thoroughly
understood, exceeds the following; a description by Pliny of a device
of C. Curio, in Africa, when celebrating the funeral games in honour
of his father:--

"He caused to be erected close together two theatres of very large
dimensions and built of wood, each of them nicely poised, and turning
on a pivot. Before mid-day a spectacle of games was exhibited in each,
the theatres being turned back to back, in order that the noise of
neither of them might interfere with what was going on in the other.
Then, in the latter part of the day, all on a sudden, the two theatres
were swung round and, the corners uniting, brought face to face; the
outer frames too were removed (_i.e._ the backs of each hemicycle) and
thus an amphitheatre was formed, in which combats of gladiators were
presented to the view; men whose safety was almost less compromised
than that of the Roman people in allowing itself to be thus whirled
round from side to side."

The following woods were in use amongst the Romans:--

For carpentry and joiner's work, _cedar_ was the wood most in demand.
_Pine_ of different kinds was used for doors, panels, carriage
building, and all work requiring to be joined up with glue, of which
that wood is particularly retentive. _Elm_ was employed for the
framework of doors, lintels and sills, in which sockets were formed
for the pins or hinges on which the doors turned. The hinge jambs were
occasionally made of _olive_. _Ash_ was employed for many purposes;
that grown in Gaul was used in the construction of carriages on
account of its extreme suppleness and pliancy. Axles and portions
which were much morticed together were made of _Ilex_ (_Holm oak_).
_Beech_ also was in frequent use. _Acer_ (_Maple_) was much prized, as
has been already stated, for tables, on account of the beauty of
the wood and of the finish which it admits. _Osiers_ were in use
for chairs as in our own times. _Veneering_ was universal in wood
furniture of a costly kind. The slices of wood were laid down with
glue as in modern work, and they used tarsia or picture work of
all kinds. _Figwood_, _willow_, _plane_, _elm_, _ash_, _mulberry_,
_cherry_, _cork wood_, were amongst the materials for the bed or
substance on which to lay such work. Wild and cultivated _olive_,
_box_, _ebony_ (Corsican especially), _ilex_, _beech_, were adapted
for veneering boxes, desks, and small work. Besides these, the Romans
used the Syrian _terebinth_, _maple_, _palm_ (cut across),
_holly_, _root of elder_, _poplar_; horn, ivory plain and stained;
tortoiseshell; and wood grained in imitation of various woods for
veneering couches and other large pieces of furniture, as well as door
frames, &c., so that this imitation of grains is not entirely a modern
invention. Woods were soaked in water or buried under heaps of grain
to season them; or steeped in oil of cedar to keep off the worms. The
_cedars_ of Crete, Africa, and Syria were the best of that class of
timber. The best _fir_ timber was obtained from the Jura range, from
Corsica, Bithynia, Pontus, and Macedonia.

The Romans had admirable glue, and used planes, chisels, &c. Their
saws, set in frames, had the teeth turned in opposite directions to
open the seam in working.

There are some curious historical records of the endurance of
particular wood structures. The cedar roof of the temple of Diana of
Ephesus was intact at the end of four centuries in Pliny's time. Her
statue was black, supposed to be of ebony, but according to other
authorities of vine, and had outlasted various rebuildings of the
temple. The roof beams of the temple of Apollo at Utica were of cedar
and had been laid 348 years before the foundation of Rome; nearly
1,200 years old in the time of Pliny, and still sound.

The emperor Philip celebrated the secular games (recurring every 100
years), with great pomp, for the fifth time in the year 248. We may
consider this event, for our present purpose, as a convenient finish
of the classic period of antique art, and of the reflections of it in
the woodwork and furniture and the surroundings of private life.

Ten centuries had elapsed since Romulus had fortified the hills on the
banks of the Tiber. "During the first four ages" (says Gibbon) "the
Romans, in the laborious school of poverty, had acquired the virtues
of war and government; by the vigorous exertion of these virtues, and
by the assistance of fortune, they had obtained in the course of the
three succeeding centuries an absolute empire over many countries of
Europe, Asia, and Africa. The last three centuries had been consumed
in apparent prosperity and internal decline."



We may take as the next period for illustration the centuries that
witnessed the break up of the old Roman constitution and the gradual
formation of a new order of society down to the end of the first ten
centuries of our era. Seven hundred and fifty years out of those ten
hundred belong in great part to mediæval history. The misfortunes of
Italy, and the incessant state of war, invasion, and struggle in that
peninsula were too destructive of personal wealth and the means of
showing it in costly furniture to leave us any materials from thence
for our present subject. The history of furniture and woodwork, as
applied to civil and social uses, now belongs to such civilisation
as took its origin and its form from Constantinople. Art of these
centuries is called Byzantine.


The woodcut is from the chair of St. Peter in Rome, the oldest and
most interesting relic of antique furniture in existence; that is, of
furniture made of wood and kept in use from the days of ancient Rome.
But it has had repairs and additions, and a description of it shall be
referred to in another section.

Byzantine art is a debased form of the classic, but with a large
mixture of Greek; not of the old classic Greek type which had long
been exhausted, but of that Asiatic Greek which derived so much of its
splendour from the rich but unimaginative decorations of Persia. The
objects actually executed at Constantinople or by Byzantine artists
now remaining can scarcely be included in a treatise on furniture.
They are mostly caskets and other small pieces executed in metal or in
ivory. Accounts of many interesting pieces of Byzantine sculpture will
be found in the "Description of the ivories in the South Kensington
museum." Amongst them the diptychs of the consuls are not only the
most important, but the most interesting to a treatise on furniture,
as we see in them consular seats and thrones of many varieties.

We may select amongst other examples the following, which can be
studied in the museum or referred to in that work. For instance,
n^{o.} 368 (fully described in Mr. Maskell's "Ivories") is one leaf
of a consular diptych of Anastasius Paulus Probus Sabinianus Pompeius.
The consul is represented seated on a chair of very ornate character.
It is like the old folding curule chairs of Rome, but with elements
both of Greek and Egyptian ornamentation, such as belong to the
massive marble seats, supported by lions or leopards, with the heads
sculptured above the upper joint of the hind legs. In the mouths of
these lions' heads are rings for the purpose of carrying the chair,
and the top frame is ornamented with little panels and medallions
containing winged masks and portrait heads of the consul and his
family or of members of the imperial family. On each side of the seat
are small winged figures of Victory standing on globes and holding
circular tablets over their heads. These probably represent the front
of the arms, and are supposed to have a bar stretching from the heads
or the circular tablets to the back of the seat. This feature too is
a continuation of types that are to be found on Greek vases and in the
chairs of both Nineveh and Egypt. A low footstool with an embroidered
cushion on it is under the feet of the consul, and another cushion,
also embroidered, covers the seat. This represents a chair of the
sixth century.

A seat still more like the curule chair, but with a high back, is
represented in another ivory, n^{o.} 270, in the South Kensington
collection. This piece is a plaque or tablet with a bas-relief of
two apostles seated. The chairs are formed of two curved and
recurved pieces each side, which are jointed together at the point of
intersection. One pair of these pieces is prolonged and connected by
straight cross-bars, and forms a back. Two dolphins, with the heads
touching the low front pieces and the tails sloping up and connected
with the back, form the arms. This belongs to the ninth century. The
lyre back, a form not unknown in old Greek and thence adopted among
Roman fashions, is also to be seen in chairs on ivories and in
manuscripts. Round cushions were hung on the back, others covered the
seat. These are seen also figured in the mosaics of Venice, and later
of Monreale in Sicily which retained much of the Byzantine spirit. The
art of Sicily continued longer subject to Constantinople than that of
most of its Italian provinces, and Venice preserved her old traditions
far into the period of the European revival of art.

The beds, as represented in manuscript illuminations, belong chiefly
to religious compositions such as the Nativity, or visions appearing
to saints in their sleep. They are couches in the old Roman form, or
are supported on turned legs, from the frames of which valances hang
down to the ground. Sometimes a curtain acts as a screen at the head
or on one side, but testers are wanting.

Chariots and carriages of all sorts remained more or less Roman in
type. There were a greater number of waggons or carriages for the
conveyance of women and families than had been in use in ancient
times. Christianity had materially altered the social position of
women, and they appeared in public or moved about with their families
without the restraints which in the old Roman society forbad their
appearance in chariots and open carriages, and made the covered couch
or closed litter the usual conveyance for ladies of rank in Rome.
Several forms of chariots or carriages of this larger kind can be seen
in the sculptures of the column of Theodosius in Constantinople.

The art and the domestic manners and customs that had been in
fashion in Rome maintained themselves with some modifications in
Constantinople. The life there was more showy and pompous, but it was
free from the cruelties and the corruption of the elder society. It
was founded on the profession of Christianity, and the numbers and
magnificence of the religious hierarchy formed an important feature
in the splendid social aspect of the Greek capital. The games of
the circus, without the cruelties of gladiatorial combats, were
maintained. Chariots were in constant use, much wealth was spent on
their construction, and chariot races were kept up. Furniture, such as
chairs, couches, chests, caskets, mirrors and articles of the toilet,
was exceedingly rich. Gold and silver were probably more abundant in
the great houses of Constantinople than they had been in Rome. As the
barbarous races of the east and north encroached on the flourishing
provinces of the Roman empire, constant immigration took place to
Constantinople and the provinces still under its sway. Families
brought with them such property as could be easily moved, gold of
course and jewels; and, naturally, these precious materials were
afterwards used for the decoration of their furniture and dress.

The ancient custom of reclining at meals had ceased. The guests sat on
benches or chairs. At the same time the "triclinia aurea," or golden
dining room, was still the title of the great hall of audience in
the palace at Constantinople. The term only served to illustrate
the jealous retention of the old forms and names by the emperors and
patricians. The last branch of the ancient empire did little for
the arts of painting and sculpture, though it long preserved the old
traditions of art, gradually becoming more and more debased with every
succeeding generation, whilst outward splendour was increased because
of the greater quantity of the precious metals that had accumulated or
been inherited during so many centuries.

The decay of art and skill in the old world was, however,
counterbalanced by the rise of new societies, which were gradually
being formed in various parts of the empire. These consisted partly
of the races of Huns, Goths, Saxons, and others, who had invaded
Italy and settled themselves in it, partly of the old municipal
corporations, who defended their property and maintained their
privileges in the great walled towns of Italy. The cities profited to
a great extent by this infusion of new blood; and became the parents
of the future provinces of Italy, so rich in genius and industry, so
wealthy and powerful in peace and war. The most important of them was
Venice, and it is in Venice that, in the later middle ages, we
find the birthplace of most of the art with which the furniture and
utensils of home and warlike use were so profusely decorated.

We point to Constantinople as the last stronghold of the old arts of
the Roman period, but it is because it was from the Greeks that the
new states borrowed their first notions of art. Nearly all the early
art we meet with throughout the west in manuscripts and ivories bears
a Byzantine character.

A remarkable piece of monumental furniture has survived from these
early centuries of the Christian era, half Byzantine and half western
in character, the chair of St. Maximian of Ravenna, preserved in
the treasury at Ravenna, and engraved and described in the "Arts
Somptuaires" of M. Du Sommerard. Ravenna was the portion of the empire
that most intimately connected the east with the west. The domed
churches of San Vitale, San Giovanni in Fonte, the tomb of Galla
Placidia, the round church of Santa Maria, built by Theodoric,
together with the great basilica of Saint Apollinare in Chiasse, and
others of the Latin form, unite the characteristics of the eastern
and western architecture. What is true of architecture can also
be pronounced as to painting, sculpture, textile fabrics, and all
decoration applied to objects, sacred or domestic, that were in daily

But events occurred in the declining state of the empire that went far
to transfer what remained of art to northern Europe. The sect of the
iconoclasts, or image-breakers, rose into power and authority
under the emperor Leo the Isaurian, who published an edict in 726
condemnatory of the veneration and use of religious images and
paintings. During a century this principle was at work, and it caused
the destruction not only of innumerable antique statues, such as those
defaced in the Parthenon of Athens, but the loss of vast quantities
of ivory and wood sculpture and precious objects of all kinds. Many
artists took refuge in western Europe, and were welcomed in the
Rhenish provinces of the empire by Charlemagne.

How much ancient and domestic art in the form of bronze or other
metal furniture, such as chairs, thrones, tripods, &c., whole or in
fragments, survived the taking of Constantinople by Mahomet II. we
cannot conjecture. Perhaps the royal palaces, or still more possibly
the mosques which have been the banks and depositories of family
treasures under Mahometan rule, may contain valuable bronzes, ivories,
and carved wood, relics of the luxurious life of the latter days of
the Greek empire, and such evidences may some day come to light. No
doubt, however, much antique art and much that belonged to the first
eight centuries of our era survived the ordinary shocks of time and
war, only to be destroyed by the quiet semi-judicial action of a
furious sect protected by imperial decrees, after the manner in
which mediæval art suffered under the searching powers of fanatical
government commissioners in our own country, in the sixteenth century.

It is to the impulse which the Lombard and Frankish monarchs gave to
art in western and northern Europe by the protection of Greek refugee
sculptors and artists that we should trace the beginnings of the
northern school called Rhenish-Byzantine.



We cannot easily determine on a date at which we can assign a
beginning to mediæval art. It differs from the art that succeeded it
in the sixteenth century in many respects, and from the late classic
art that preceded it still more widely. That peculiar character which
we call romantic enters into the art of mediæval times, as it does
into the literature and manners of the same ages. It took a living
form in the half religious institution of chivalry. The northern
nations grew up under the leadership of monks quite as much as under
that of kings. They lived in territories only partially cleared from
forests, pushed their way forward to power pioneered by the great
religious orders, and their world was one surrounded by opportunities
of endless adventures. But this romantic standard, though it took its
rise from the times in which the Christians carried their lives in
their hands, under the persecuting emperors, did not pervade Europe
for many centuries. Classic art, in its decay, still furnished both
forms and symbols, such, _e.g._, as that of Orpheus, to the new
societies, and the names of Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn, have
survived as the titles of days of the week. The two art traditions
overlapped each other for a while. Mediævalism grew very gradually.

We have just said that Charlemagne welcomed Byzantine artists to the
Rhine. It must be remembered, however, that the Roman empire had been
firmly planted beyond the Alps, and that Gaul produced good Roman art
in the second and third centuries. Architecture, sculpture, bronze
casting, and the numberless appliances of daily life were completely
Roman in many parts of France and Britain. The theatres and
amphitheatres of Arles and Orange and the collections in various
museums are enough to show how extended this character was. It was
not till the old traditions had been much developed or modified by
oriental influences that a thorough mediæval character of art was
established in Italy, France, Germany, and England. To the last it
remained semi-classic in Rome itself.

We can give reference to few specimens of household furniture or
to woodwork of any kind before the eleventh century, with a great
exception to be noticed presently. Ivories, in any form, belonging
to these ages are rare. The best objects are Byzantine. Anglo-saxon
ivories, though not unknown, are all but unique examples. Ivory was
probably rarely employed for any objects of secular use, unless on
mirror cases, combs, or the thrones of kings; on horns, caskets, sword
hilts, and the like.

Metallurgy in the precious metals and in bronze, including the gilding
of bronze, was probably the one art that survived the departure, if
it had not even preceded the invasion, of the Romans in Britain. It is
scarcely probable that tin and copper ores would have been sought for
from Britain if manufactured ornaments of metal had not found their
way in the first instance from this country to the south. Be that,
however, as it may, the art of metallurgy survived the downfall of
such architectural and sculpturesque skill as had been attained in
England under Roman traditions; and that metal thrones, chairs, and
other utensils were made here as in Gaul can hardly be doubted.

There is an interesting collection, lately bequeathed by Mr. Gibbs,
of Saxon ornaments in gold, bronze, and bronze ornamented with gilding
and enamel, in the South Kensington museum. These objects were dug up
chiefly at Faversham, a village in Kent. Most of these antiquities
are _fibulæ_, brooches, and buckles, or portions of horse trappings,
bosses, &c., and not recognisable as parts of bronze furniture,
such as the chair of Dagobert. But it is difficult to examine these
personal ornaments and not believe that during the Saxon occupation
bronze thrones, tripods, mirrors, and other objects of household use
were also made.

The earliest example of mediæval furniture in the Kensington museum is
a cast of the chair known as that of Dagobert, in the Louvre. A full
description and history of this chair is to be found in the large
catalogue, n^{o.} 68: and we here give a woodcut of it. This work (it
is said) was executed by a monk.


When we consider the rapacity of the barbarian inroads into Italy and
Rome, and the amount of spoil carried bodily away from Constantinople,
Rome, and the great municipal centres of Italy, it is remarkable that
so little precious furniture should have survived in other parts
of Europe. The Goths under Adolphus in the fifth century carried an
immense plunder into Gaul and Spain. "When the treasuries, after the
conquest of Spain," says Gibbon, "were plundered by the Arabs, they
admired, and they have celebrated, a table of considerable size, of
one single piece of solid emerald [that is, glass], encircled with
three rows of fine pearls, supported by three hundred and sixty-five
feet of gems and massy gold, estimated at the price of five hundred
thousand pieces of gold,"--probably the most expensive table on
record. It is the value of the materials that has prevented the
preservation of many such objects, while the chair of Dagobert is of
gilt bronze only.

Early mediæval art, included under the general name of Gothic,
continued down to the twelfth century full of Romanesque forms and
details. Figures were clothed in classic draperies, but stiff and
severe with upright lines and childish attempts to indicate the limbs
or joints beneath. Nevertheless, the work of these centuries, rude
and archaic as it is, is full of dignity and force. The subjects were
often sacred, sometimes of war or incidents of the chase. These last
were commonly mixed with animals, lions and dogs, or eagles and hawks,
or leaves of the acanthus and other foliage. Throughout these ages the
foliated sculpture, the paintings of books and carving of ivory,
and no doubt of wood also, was, moreover, composed in endless
convolutions, such as may be seen on sculptured stones in Ireland and
on the Norwegian doors of the twelfth century. Whether the different
convolutions are formed by figures or dragons, or by stalks of foliage
twined and knotted together in bold curved lines, symmetrically
arranged, each portion is generally carefully designed and traceable
through many windings as having a distinct intention and purpose.
Ornamental work was thus apparently conventional, but made up of
individual parts separately carried out, and in some degree, though
not altogether, realistic: a character gradually lost after the early
thirteenth century till the new revival in the sixteenth.

The tenth century was not favourable to the development of the
requirements or comfort of personal life. Towards the year one
thousand a superstition prevailed over many parts of Europe that the
world would come to an end when the century was completed; and many
fields were left uncultivated in the year 999. The eleventh century
made a great advance in architecture and other arts, but down to the
Norman invasion our own country was far behind the continental nations
in the fine arts; metallurgy only excepted. The Anglo-saxons perhaps
advanced but very slowly, as the century wore on to the period of the
Norman conquest; and manners remained exceedingly simple.

Early illuminations, though conventional, give us some details of
Anglo-saxon houses. They were of one story, and contained generally
only one room. The addition of a second was rare before the Norman
conquest. The furniture of the room consisted of a heavy table,
sometimes fixed; on which the inhabitants of the house and the guests
slept. A bedstead was occasionally reserved for the mistress of the
house. Bedsteads when used by the women or the lord of the house were
enclosed in a shed under the wall of enclosure and had a separate
roof, as may be seen in many manuscripts. In the Bayeux tapestry a
bed roof is tiled, and the framework shut in with curtains. In many
instances such a design represents only a tester with posts. Otherwise
beds of straw stuffed into a bag or case were spread on the table,
and soldiers laid their arms by their heads ready for use in case of
alarm. Benches, some with lion or other heads at the corners, like
elongated chairs or settles (with backs, for the lord and lady of
the house), were the usual seats. Thrones, something like that of
Dagobert, were the property of kings. King Edward the Confessor is
seated on such a chair (metal, and in the Roman shape) in the Bayeux
tapestry, and folding chairs of various forms, more or less following
classical types, were used by great personages. Benches were also used
as beds; so were the lids or tops of chests, the sack or bag being
sometimes kept in it and filled with straw when required. The tables
were covered with cloths at dinner. Stained cloths and tapestries,
commonly worked with pictorial designs, were used to hang the walls
of the house or hall. They were called wah-hrægel, wall coverings.
Personal clothing was kept in chests of rude construction. Silver
candlesticks were used in churches. Candles were stuck anywhere in
houses, on beams or ledges.

With regard to carriages during the Saxon and Anglo-norman period,
carts on two wheels were common for agricultural use, and served to
transport the royal property. Four-wheeled cars drawn by hand labour
are used for carrying warlike stores in the Bayeux tapestry. In the
battle of the Standard the standard of the English host was carried
on a wheeled car or platform, and remained as the head-quarters or
rallying point during action.

The Norman invasion of England caused a new advance in the luxury
and refinement, such as it was, of daily life. The houses began to
grow--upper rooms or rooms at the side of the great hall were added,
called solars (solaria), the sunny or light rooms. These seem to have
been appropriated to the ladies. In due time they added a parloir or
talking room, a name derived from the rooms in which conversation
was allowed in monasteries where silence was the general rule. In
the upper rooms fireplaces were made occasionally, but not always
chimneys. In the halls, when the upper room did not cover the whole
under room or when an upper room was not constructed, fire was made
in the centre of the floor. Stairs were of wood. Glass was all but
unknown in the windows of houses, and wooden shutters kept out the

The houses of landowners in England were called manoir or manor. The
furniture was simple and consisted of few objects. The table was on
trestles; the seats were benches. _Armaria_, armoires, cupboards or
presses, either stood in recesses in the wall or were complete wooden
enclosures. These had doors opening horizontally. The frames were not
panelled. The doors were ledge doors of boards, nailed to stout cross
bars behind, and decorated with iron hinges and clamps beaten out into
scrolls and other ornaments.


Bedrooms were furnished with ornamental bed testers, and benches at
the bed foot. Beds were furnished with quilts and pillows, and with
spotted or striped linen sheets; over all was laid a covering of green
say, badgers' furs, the skins of beavers or of martin cats, and a
cushion. A perch for falcons to sit on was fixed in the wall. A chair
at the bed head, and a perch or projecting pole on which clothes could
be hung, completed the furniture of the Anglo-norman bedroom. In the
foregoing woodcut from Willemin there is no tester, but carving on the
posts, and the coverings are of the richest description.

Woodwork was decorated with painted ornament or with fanciful work
on the hinges; and nails and clamps were applied to hold it together,
rather than with sculpture, down to the fourteenth century; and in
England, France, and Germany, oak was the wood employed for furniture.
Both in England and in the countries which had retained old artistic
traditions on the continent, such as Italy, France, and Spain (which
profited by the skill of the Moors in painted decoration), colour was
used not less on walls and wood than on metal and pottery. Tapestry
was an important portion of the furniture of all houses of the richer

During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries mediæval art in Europe
reached its greatest perfection. The classic traditions were at last
forgotten everywhere except in Rome itself, where a chain lingered
almost continuous between the old ideas and those which succeeded in
the sixteenth century. Elsewhere the feeling in sculpture, whether of
wood or other materials, was in unison with the pointed architecture
and reigned unchallenged. All sorts of enrichments were used in the
decoration of furniture. A chest of the time of John is preserved in
the castle of Rockingham. It is of oak richly decorated with hammered
iron plates, hinges, &c. The jewel chest of Richard of Cornwall was
long preserved in the state treasury of Aix-la-Chapelle, and is now at
Vienna. It belongs to the first half of the century, and was left at
Aix when Richard was crowned king of the Romans. The body is of oak
decorated with wrought-iron hinges, lock, and clamps, and with bosses
of metal on which are enamelled heraldic shields.

The construction of woodwork gradually became more careful and
scientific. Panelled framework came into use, though seldom for
doors of rooms. With this method of construction the chests were
put together that formed the chief article of furniture during two
centuries in the mediæval sleeping, sitting, or private room.

In the middle of the thirteenth century Eleanor of Provence was
escorted on her journey to England by an army of ladies, knights,
nobles and troubadours, from Provence to the shores of the channel.
Kings were continually making progress in this manner through their
dominions, like the Indian governors of our own days, and carried
their furniture and property in chests, called standards, on the backs
of mules or sumpter horses. Portable furniture and hangings were the
principal objects of household use on such occasions. A precept in
the twentieth year of the reign of Henry the third directed that "the
king's great chamber at Westminster be painted a green colour like a
curtain, that in the great gable frontispiece of the said chamber
a French inscription should be painted, and that the king's little
wardrobe should be painted of a green colour to imitate a curtain."
The queen's chamber was decorated with historical paintings. Remains
of similar wall decoration are in tolerable preservation still in one
of the vaulted rooms of Dover castle.

Till the fourteenth century candles were generally placed on a beam
in the hall, whether in the castle of a king or baron. Frames of wood
with prickets were also suspended for the lighting of rooms, or were
fixed to the sides of the fire-place when that was made in the wall
and had a chimney constructed for it. More generally, as regards
halls, the hearth was in the middle of the room and a lantern
just above it in the roof acted as a chimney. Iron chandeliers, or
branches, were ordered to be fixed to the piers of the king's halls at
Oxford, Winchester, and other places. Though the royal table might be
lighted with valuable candlesticks of metal, they were not in general
use till a century later. Besides the numerous rows of tallow candles
pieces of pine wood were lighted and stuck into iron hasps in the
wall, or round the woodwork at the back of the dais to give more
abundant light.

The wardrobe was a special room fitted with hanging closets, and in
these clothes, hangings, linen, as well as spices and stores, were
preserved. This arrangement was common in all large castles during the
thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Great preparations
were made in the bedrooms of queens of England to which they retired
before the birth of children. Henry the third directed that his
queen's bedroom should be freshly wainscoted and lined, and that a
list or border should be made, well painted with images of our
Lord and angels, with incense pots scattered over it; that the four
evangelists should be painted in the chamber, and a crystal vase be
made to keep his collection of relics.

Room panelling was introduced into England during the same reign.
Henry ordered a chamber at Windsor castle to be panelled with Norway
pines specially imported; the men worked day and night. The boards
were radiated and coloured, and two clear days only were allowed for
the fixing and completion.


Edward the first married a Spanish queen, and household furniture was
further developed under his reign in many particulars. Pottery for the
table was imported from Spain, and oriental carpets were introduced; a
luxury naturally borrowed from the extensive use of them by the Moors
in that country. Italian artists had already been invited to England.
Master William, the Florentine, was master of the works at Guildford
castle. John of St. Omer was another foreign artist employed by Henry
the third. To the former of these we probably owe the introduction
into this country of the method of gilding and tooled gold work, with
which wood was decorated. Specimens of the work are still discernible
on the famous coronation chair (of which we give a woodcut, p. 49) in
Westminster abbey; made about the year 1300.

The decoration and comfort of furnished houses during Henry's reign
was further promoted by the general use of tapestry. Queen Eleanor is
traditionally and incorrectly said to have first brought this kind
of furniture into houses; it was certainly adopted for churches
at earlier periods, and hangings of various materials, stained or
embroidered, were employed as far back as the Anglo-saxon times.
Tapestries and cypress chests to carry them probably became more
general in Eleanor's reign.

Amongst the particulars collected in the history of the city companies
and by the record commission are lists of the royal plate, showing
that objects of personal use besides table plate were made in silver
and gold. We find mention of pitchers of gold and silver, plates and
dishes of silver, gold salts, alms bowls, silver hannapers or baskets,
a pair of knives with enamelled silver sheaths, a fork of crystal,
and a silver fork with handle of ebony and ivory, combs and
looking-glasses of silver. Edward had six silver forks and one of
gold. Ozier mats were laid over the benches on which he and his
queen sat at meals. These were also put under the feet, especially in
churches where the pavement was of stone or tiles.

In the furniture of bedrooms linen chests and settles, cupboards and
the beds themselves were of panelled wood. The next woodcut shows the
interior of a well-furnished bedroom, from a manuscript life of St.
Edmund written about the year 1400.


Chests served as tables, and are often represented with chess-boards
on them in old illuminations, and husband and wife sitting on the
chest and using it for the game, which had become familiar to most
European nations. Chests of later date than the time of Edward, of
Italian make, still show the same use of the lids of coffers. As the
tops of the coffers served for tables, and for seats they began in the
thirteenth century to be furnished with a panelled back and arm-pieces
at either end. This development of the chest was equally common in
France. It does not seem to have been placed on legs or to have grown
into a cabinet till a later period. The raised dorsal or back of the
seats in large rooms was a protection from the cold, and in the rude
form of a _settle_ is still the comfort of old farm and inn kitchens
in this country; it became the general type of seats of state in the
great halls, and was there further enlarged by a canopy projecting
forwards to protect the heads of the sitters, panelled also in oak.
In the fifteenth century in many instances this hood or canopy was
attached to the panelling of the upper end of the hall, and covered
the whole of that side of the dais. The backing and canopy were
sometimes replaced by temporary arrangements of hangings, as in
modern royal throne rooms, the cloth being called cloth of estate and
generally embroidered with heraldic devices. Panelled closets called
_dressoirs_ or cupboards, to lock up food, were general in properly
furnished rooms; a cloth was laid on the top at meals, with lights,
and narrow shelves rose in steps at the back for the display of plate,
the steps varying in number according to the rank of the persons

Tables used at meals were generally frames of boards, either in one
piece or folding in the middle. These were laid on trestles, as in the
woodcut from an early manuscript in the Bodleian library, and could
be removed as soon as the dinner was over, so that the company might
dance and divert themselves. Somewhat later, about the year 1450, the
tables although still on trestles were made more solidly, even for the
use of people of the middle class.


All houses, however, even of kings could not be completely or even
comfortably furnished in such a manner, far less those of feudal
lords, not princes or sovereigns. The kings moved incessantly to their
various strongholds and manors in time of peace to collect dues and
revenues, much of which was paid in kind and could only be profitably
turned to account by carrying the Court to different estates and
living on their produce as long as it lasted. Orders were continually
sent to sheriffs to provide food, linen and other requisites, while
hangings and furniture were carried by the train in its progress. Much
of the household belongings of persons of wealth was, therefore, of
a movable kind. We engrave (p. 53) a very curious table standing on a
pedestal shaped like a chalice, from a manuscript of the beginning of
the fifteenth century. The ladies are playing at cards.



A most oppressive privilege was exercised in France, which went beyond
the legal right of the lord or owner to the rents of his estates
whether paid in money, agricultural produce, or manufactures carried
on in his towns or villages. This was the _droit de prisage_, a
privilege of seizing furniture of all kinds by the hands of stewards
and others for the use of the king. Chairs, tables, and beds
particularly were included in these requisitions. The _droit
de prisage_ was modified at various times in consequence of the
remonstrance of the commons at so oppressive an exaction; but as late
as the year 1365 Charles the fifth seized beds. In 1313 Philippe le
Bel entertained the English king and his queen at Pontoise with no
other furniture than such as had been seized in this manner. A fire
broke out in the night during their stay, the furniture was consumed,
and the royal personages escaped in their shirts. It was not till 1407
that this privilege was finally abandoned.

Though the usual conveyance during the thirteenth century was a horse
litter for women of rank, and men rode on horseback, yet covered
and open carriages or waggons were not unknown in that and in the
following century. A charette containing a number of maids of honour
in attendance on Anne of Bohemia at her public reception in London in
1392, was upset on London bridge from the rush of the crowd to get
a sight of the queen, and her ladies were not without difficulty
replaced. These charettes, cars, or waggons were covered carts on four
wheels, like country waggons of our days, panelled at the sides, and
the tilt covered with leather, sometimes with lead, and painted.


We must not pass without a very brief notice the large constructions
of roofs of wood begun as early as the twelfth, and continued and
improved through the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the period
during which the finest efforts of mediæval Gothic art were embodied
all over the north and over parts of the south of Europe. The older
part of Westminster hall dates from the reign of Rufus, and the walls
of the present building belong to that period, though faced at a later
time. How the roof of the enormous space, sixty-five feet diameter,
was at first constructed there is no evidence to show. It had,
perhaps, a row of arches down the middle, like the great hall of
the palace of Blois, said to be of the thirteenth century, or huge
kingposts supporting the ties between rafters, which in that case may
have been as long as those of the later roof. The present roof, work
of the fourteenth century, marks the beginning of a change in the
style of architecture that accompanied and caused great changes in
furniture and household woodwork. The ties are supported by curved
braces that descend like arches on the stone corbels made in the wall
to receive them. These braces take two flights, being tied back where
they meet by hammer beams into a lower part of the rafter. The lower
brace upholds another upright or collar post which supports the
junction of these beams with the rafter, at its weakest part. A rich
subdivision of upright mullions with cusped arch heads fills up the
spandrels between these braces and the beams they support, and adds
stiffness as well as decoration to the whole.

Such constructions were not only more scientific than those of older
date, but they are more pompous and complicated, and have a greater
apparent affinity with the architecture of the day. This architectural
character, from the date of the change to the third period of pointed
architecture, began to show itself in furniture and wood structure of
every kind. Until then a certain originality and inventiveness
were preserved in the decoration both of architective woodwork and
furniture, notwithstanding the strictest observance of the rules and
unities of architectural law in buildings, ecclesiastical and civil.
Small sculpture, such as that on ivories and utensils made of metal,
or that which decorated woodwork as well as stone, and the general
forms of furniture, were designed without immediate imitation of
architectonic detail. Figure sculpture of great dignity remains
in ivories of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries,
illustrative of the general character given to things of daily use
which were not, probably, nearly so numerous as in a later age, and
were each carefully elaborated for the person for whom they were
made. We need go no further than some of the objects in the Kensington
museum, such as the statuettes and caskets of ivory, English and
French work of that time.

We can point to few large pieces of furniture, except the coronation
chair, illustrating the fashions of this early period. Examples of
wooden movable furniture are extremely rare in this country. There are
large semicircular cope chests in the cathedrals of Wells, York, and
other cities. These are merely chests or boxes in which the copes
are spread out full size, one over the other, and the only
decoration consists in the floriated ironwork attached to the hinges.



We must not omit to remark that some examples of very beautiful
oriental panelling of this period are to be seen in various
collections. The woodcuts represent the fittings of a series of such
panels from a mosque at Cairo, now at South Kensington, n^{o.} 1,051;
and a single piece to show the detail. The delicacy of the carving
and the apparent intricacy of the geometrical arrangement are very

[Illustration: A royal dinner table, from a manuscript of the
fourteenth century.]



In discussing the great wood structures such as screens, house
fronts, roofs, and other large pieces of mechanism, which developed in
boldness and variety in the fifteenth century, we must not forget that
the abundance of oak timber in the north of Europe both suggested much
of this timber art and admitted of bold features of construction from
the size of the logs and the tenacity of the material. A large portion
of England and perhaps an equal proportion of Ireland were covered
with dense forests of oak. The eastern frontier of France, great
portions of Burgundy, and many other districts in France, Germany,
Flanders, and other northern countries, were still forests, and timber
was to be had at low prices and in any quantity. Spanish chestnut had
been introduced probably by the Romans into England.

Though churches, castles, and manors were built of stone or brick,
or both, yet whole cities seem to have been mainly constructed out
of timber. The London of the fifteenth century, like a hundred other
cities, though abounding in noble churches and in great fortified
palaces, yet presented the aspect of a timber city. The houses
were framed together, as a few still are in some English towns and
villages, of vast posts sixteen to twenty-four inches square in
section, arching outwards and meeting the projecting floor timbers,
and so with upper stories, till the streets were darkened by the
projections. The surfaces of these posts were covered with delicate
tracery, niches and images. In the streets at Chester an open gallery
or passage is left on the first floor _within_ the timbers of the
house fronts. In the court of St. Mary's guild in Coventry, whole
chambers and galleries are supported on vast arches of timber like
bridges. Oriels jutted out under these overhanging stories, and
the spaces between the framing posts were filled in, sometimes with
bricks, sometimes with laths and mortar, or parts (as the century wore
on) more frequently with glass.

In London and Rouen, in Blois and in Coventry, these angle posts were
filled with niches and statuettes or fifteenth century window tracery
sunk into the surfaces. The dark wooden houses were externally a mass
of imagery. In the great roofs of these centuries, such as the one
spoken of at Westminster, the hammer beams were generally carved into
figures of angels gracefully sustaining the timber behind them
with outstretched wings; and these figures were painted and gilt.
A magnificent example remains intact in the church of Knapton in


The number of excellent workmen and the size and architectural
character of so much of the woodwork of the day contributed to give
all panelled work, no matter of what description, an architectural
type; and furniture shared in this change. Coffers and chests, as well
as standards or stall-ends in churches, and bench-ends in large rooms
and halls, were designed after the pattern of window tracery. The
panel in the above woodcut from a French chest of this date, is a very
delicate and beautiful example. Little buttresses and pinnacles were
often placed on the angles or the divisions between the panels. At
South Kensington, the buffet, n^{o.} 8,439 and the chest, n^{o.}
2,789, with other pieces are of this kind; also a grand cabinet of
German make in the same collection. This last, n^{o.} 497, is of the
rudest construction, but a few roughly cut lines of moulding and some
effective ironwork give it richness and dignity that are wanting in
many pieces more scientifically made and more decoratively treated.

The quantity of tapestry employed in these centuries in fitting up
houses and the tents used either during a campaign or in progresses
from one estate to another was prodigious, and kept increasing.
Lancaster entertained the king of Portugal in his tent between Mouçal
and Malgaço, fitted up with hangings of arras "as if he had been at
Hertford, Leicester, or any of his manors." As early as 1313, when
Isabel of Bavaria made her entry into Paris, the whole street of St.
Denis, Froissart tells us, "was covered with a canopy of rich camlet
and silk cloths, as if they had the cloths for nothing, or were at
Alexandria or Damascus. I (the writer of this account) was present,
and was astonished whence such quantities of rich stuffs and ornaments
could have come, for all the houses on each side of the street of St.
Denis, as far as the Châtelet, or indeed to the great bridge, were
hung with tapestries representing various scenes and histories, to
the delight of all beholders." The expense incurred in timber work on
these occasions may be estimated from the long lists of pageants, and
the scale on which each was prepared on this and like occasions.

Of the early Italian furniture of the mediæval period there is at
South Kensington one fine specimen, a coffer of cypress, covered with
flat surface imagery filled in with coloured wax composition. It dates
from the fourteenth century. The better known Italian furniture of
the quattrocento or "fourteen hundred period," _i.e._ the fifteenth
century, is gilt and painted. The richness of this old work is owing
to the careful preparation of the ground or bed on which the gold is
laid and the way in which the preparation was modelled with the tool.
The old gold is, besides, both thicker and purer, more malleable, and
less liable to suffer from the action of the atmosphere than the gold
we now use for this purpose. The paintings executed on such pieces
of furniture as offered suitable surfaces to the artist, boxes and
coffers (and, for church uses, reliquaries), are equal to the finest
works of that kind and of the same period.

Many artists worked in this way. Dello Delli was the best known in
regard to such productions. His work became so entirely the fashion
that, according to Vasari, no house was complete without a specimen
of it. Andrea di Cosimo was another. It need not be said that such men
and their contemporaries had a number of pupils similarly employed.
Every piece of painted furniture attributed to Dello Delli cannot be
warranted. There are, however, specimens which we believe to be from
his hand in the Kensington collection, and numbers of fronts and
panels and fragments of great merit which illustrate his style.

Besides this kind of decoration, the Venetians had derived from Persia
and India another beautiful system of surface ornament; marquetry, a
fine inlay of ivory, metal, and woods, stained to vary the colour. The
work is in geometric patterns only. It is found on the ivory boxes and
other objects sculptured in that material, and attributed to Italian
as well as to Byzantine sources. In the fifteenth century Florence
also came prominently to the front in the manufacture of these and
other rich materials; as well as of ivory inlaid into solid cypress
wood and walnut, known as Certosina work. The style is Indian in
character, and consists in geometric arrangements of stars made of
diamond-shaped pieces: varied with conventional flowers in pots, &c.
The name Certosina is derived from the great Certosa, charterhouse,
or Carthusian monastery between Milan and Pavia: where this kind of
decoration is employed in the choir fittings of the splendid church of
that monastery.

We are inclined to the belief (as already said) that the manufacture
of geometrical work of this kind was originally imported from Persia
by the Venetians. There are in the Kensington museum some very
interesting old chairs made for the castle of Urbino, and part of the
furniture of Guidobaldo II., whose court, like that of Réné, king
of Provence, was the resort of troubadours, poets, and philosophers.
These chairs are covered with geometric marquetry of white and stained
ivory, &c., the very counterpart of the Bombay work now brought to
this country. That manufacture, in the opinion of Dr. Birdwood,
was also of Persian origin and thence found its way to Bombay. The
Persians continued long into the last century the inlaying of ivory in
walnut wood, and their geometric marquetry is still made.

The forms of chairs in use in Italy early in the fifteenth century
were revivals of the old Roman folding chair. The pairs of crosspieces
are sometimes on the sides, sometimes set back and front, and in that
case arm and back pieces are added. Generally we may say that the fine
Italian furniture of that day owed its beauty to inlaying, surface
gilding, tooling and painting. Gilt chests and marriage trays, inlaid
tables, and chairs are also to be seen at South Kensington.

As in Italy, so in England, France, Germany, and later in Spain, the
splendour hitherto devoted to the glory of ecclesiastical furniture,
utensils, or architectural decoration was gradually adopted in the
royal and other castles and houses. State rooms, halls of justice,
sets of rooms for the use of the king or his barons were furnished and
maintained. The large religious establishments also demanded the skill
of artists and workmen, and to a greater extent north than south of
the Alps. Many monastic houses in the north of Europe were seats of
feudal jurisdiction. These communities executed great works in wood,
stall-work, presses, coffers, &c., as large and continuous societies
alone are able to carry through tasks that want much time for
completion. All this helped to encourage the manufacture of woodwork
of the finest kind. Hence the mediæval semi-ecclesiastical character
maintained sway in every art connected with architecture and furniture
longer in northern countries than in Italy, where both old traditions
and monumental remains recalled rather the glories of antique art, and
where the revival of classic learning had begun.

As regards English art it is certain that, partly from the influence
of foreign queens, partly from foreign wars, and partly from the
incessant intercourse with the rest of Europe kept up by religious
houses, many of the accomplishments of other countries were known and
practised here by foreign or native artists.

It is true that the wars of the Roses, more bloody and ruinous than
any experienced in this country, delayed that growth of domestic
luxury which might have been expected from the then wealth of England.
But when Henry the seventh established a settled government, and from
his time downwards, the decorations and the accumulation of furniture
in houses, libraries, and collections of works of art rapidly
increased. Many of the books in the "King's library," and many
pictures and movables still in possession of the crown, may be traced
to that day.

It is difficult, indeed, to imagine the England which Leland saw in
his travels. It must have been full of splendid objects, and during
the reign of Henry the feudal mansions, as well as the numerous royal
palaces of Windsor, Richmond, Havering, and others, were filled with
magnificent furniture. Mabuse and Torrigiano were employed by the
king, and this example found many imitations; artists, both foreign
and English, made secular furniture, as rich and beautiful as that of
the churches and religious houses which covered the country.

Taste in furniture, as in architecture, both in continental Europe and
in these islands had nevertheless passed the fine period of mediæval
design. The "Gothic" or pointed forms and details had become
uninventive and commonplace. The whole system awaited a change. The
figure sculpture, however, of the latter years of this century, though
life-sized statues had lost much of the dignity and simplicity of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, was approaching the realization
of natural form, which it attained in such excellence in the
succeeding century. The ingenuity and raciness of the smaller figure
carving both in stall-work of churches and on the tops and fronts of
boxes and caskets, in panel-work of cabinets or doors, &c., during the
last half of the fifteenth century are scarcely surpassed by the more
academic and classical figure design of the sixteenth. Carvers on all
kinds of wood furniture and decoration of houses delighted in doubling
their figures up into quaint and ingenious attitudes, and if the
architecture was latterly tame, though showy and costly, imagery
continued to be full of individuality and inventiveness.



There are few matters regarding art more worthy of consideration than
the narrowness of the limits that bound human invention: or, to speak
more exactly, we should say the simplicity of the laws and principles
in obedience to which the imaginations of men are exercised. The
return of the painters, sculptors, and architects to the old types of
classical art after the reign of the Gothic seems at first sight as
if in the arts there could be nothing new under the sun: as if the
imagination, so fertile in creation during many centuries since the
establishment of Christianity, had been utterly worked out and come
to an end, and that there was nothing left but to repeat and copy what
had been done ages before.

There is, however, in reality more connection between classic and
mediæval art than appears on the surface, and although all the great
masters of the revival studied eagerly such remains of antique art as
were discovered in Italy during the early years of the renaissance,
they only came into direct contact with or absolute imitation of those
models occasionally; and the works of that age have a grace that is
peculiarly their own, and an inventiveness in painting and sculpture,
if not in architecture, that seems, when we look at such cities as
Venice and Florence, inexhaustible. The renaissance began in Italy
many years before the year 1500. Most changes, indeed, of manners or
arts which are designated by any century are perhaps more correctly
dated twenty years before or after its beginning, and in the notices
which we are here putting together we are compelled to make divisions
of time occasionally overlap each other.

The revival of learning in Italy was accompanied by other
circumstances which had a powerful influence on the arts, and
particularly on the sumptuary arts of the century. It has been already
remarked that while the nations of Europe were more or less convulsed
with war it was not easy or possible for the inhabitants, even the
wealthy, to do much in furnishing dwelling-houses with any kind of
comfort. Rich furniture consisted in a few costly objects and in
hangings such as could be carried about on sumpter horses or in
waggons, and, with the addition of rough benches, tables, and
bedsteads, could make bare walls look gay and comfortable, and offer
sufficient accommodation in the empty halls of granges and manors
seldom lived in, for the occasions of a visit or a temporary
occupation. Churches indeed were in those ages respected by both sides
in the furious contests that raged throughout Europe. The violation of
holy places was a crime held in abhorrence by all combatants, and
the treasuries and sacristies, therefore, of churches were full of
examples of every kind of accomplishment possessed by the artists
of the day. They contained objects collected there during many
generations, as was the case of shrines like that of the Virgin del
Pillar in Spain, of which the offerings so long preserved have been
very lately sold and dispersed, and represented the art of many
successive ages. But in private houses it was scarcely possible to
have any corresponding richness, though in the instance of kings and
potentates there was often much splendour.

As in England the fifteenth century saw the close of a series of great
wars and the establishment of one powerful government, so during its
conclusion and the beginning of the next century a similar disorder
gradually gave place to tranquillity in Italy.

The practices of painting gilt furniture of all kinds, and of
modelling terra-cotta work on the wood, were not altogether new
accomplishments or confined to the artists of one city. When,
therefore, the French having been driven out of Italy, the popes were
in security in Rome and the accomplished Medici family reigned
in Florence, those states as well as Urbino, Ferrara, and other
independent cities were free from the perpetual attitude of defence
against foreign invasion; they could indulge their enthusiasm for
classic art, and the impulse given to the study of it found a ready
response, as great noblemen while building palaces and digging
gardens came upon statues, frescoes, vases, bronzes, and many glorious
remnants of antiquity. In the various Italian states were artists well
skilled and carefully trained, and there was no difficulty in finding
distinguished names with whole schools of enthusiastic admirers behind
them who, with these precious objects in their view, formed their
style on the old classic models. We are to consider such acquirements
here only so far as they came to be applied to secular woodwork (of
which this cornice from Venice is an example) and the objects of daily
use; to coffers, chests, caskets, mirrors, or cabinets, sideboards
of various kinds, seats, tables, carriages and furniture of every


The best artists of the day did not hesitate to give their minds to
the making of woodwork and furniture in various materials and employed
every kind of accomplishment in beautifying them. Of this fine
renaissance period there are so many examples in the South Kensington
collection, and some of them of such excellence, that the student need
scarcely have occasion to travel beyond the limits of that museum to
illustrate the quattrocento and cinquecento furniture and woodwork.

Many materials were employed by the renaissance artists. Wood first
and principally in making furniture, but decorated with gilding and
paintings; inlaid with agate, carnelian, lapis lazuli and marbles of
various tints; with ivory, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl; and with
other woods. They also made many smaller objects, such as mirror cases
in iron, damascened or inlaid with gold and silver. For many years,
however, mirrors continued to be of polished metal, the enrichment
being devoted to the outer case. Glass mirrors were not common till a
somewhat later period.

As the general material of furniture in the sixteenth century
continued to be wood, its chief decoration was sculpture. The number
of remarkable pieces of carved wood furniture belonging to this period
in the museum is considerable. The most striking are the chests,
cassoni, large coffers for containing clothes or ornamental hangings
and stuffs that were kept in them when not in use. Rooms, however
large, of which the walls, floors, and ceilings are decorated, do not
require many substantial objects in addition; and these chests, with
a table and chairs placed against the wall, nearly complete the
requirements of great Italian halls and corridors.


The general form of the carved chests is that of a sarcophagus. They
are supported on claw feet, and have masks, brackets, or caryatid
figures worked into the construction as in the accompanying woodcut,
leaving panels, borders, or other spaces for historic sculpture. The
subjects are sometimes from Scripture, often from the poems of Ovid.
They are carved in walnut wood, which is free in grain and very
tenacious: and the work, like most of the old furniture carving, is
helped out with gilding. Sometimes the ground, at others the relieved
carvings are touched or completely covered with gilding. Most of these
fine chests are in pairs, and probably formed parts of still larger
sets, fours or sixes, according as they were intended for the wall
spaces of larger or smaller rooms or portions of wall between two

Carved chests commonly in use, and given to brides as part of their
dowry or as presents to married couples, or simply provided as the
most convenient objects both for receptacles and occasionally
for seats, were often made at less cost in cypress wood. They are
generally decorated with surface designs etched with a pen on the
absorbent grain of that wood, the ground being slightly cut out and
worked over with punches shaped like nail heads, stars, &c. Cypress
chests were especially used for keeping dresses or tapestries; the
aromatic properties of that timber being considered as a specific
against moth. This kind of chest, when intended to hold a bridal
trousseau, was occasionally made with small drawers and receptacles
inside for fans, lace, combs, or other feminine ornaments. Allusions
to cypress chests in England are numerous in the wardrobe and privy
purse accounts of Edward the fourth and his successors.

The tables of this period are sometimes solid (as n^{o.} 162, which is
covered with spirited designs of mythological subjects). Dinner tables
were "boards" fastened on trestles, according to the old usage already
alluded to, and could be removed when the meal was over; or several
could be laid together, as in our modern dining-room tables, to meet
the demands of the noble hospitality exercised in those days.

The Italian chairs of the quattrocento period have been spoken of
above. We have, however, another very rich and effective form of
chairs usual in the sixteenth century, and which were in general use
in Venice. In these the seat is fastened into two planks, one before
and one behind, as in the woodcut. The planks are richly carved, and
a third plank is let in to form a back. The several portions,
particularly the back, were sometimes sufficiently thick to admit of
carving in massive relief. The flanks of the back piece are usually
grotesque monsters, and the arms of the owner carved on a scutcheon
in the centre. They seem to have been generally richly gilt. They
also formed the decoration of a great corridor or hall, and were used
without cushions.


The frames of pictures were bold and rich. Those of the previous
century had been mostly imitative of small Gothic shrines, being
generally for religious subjects and for use in churches or oratories.
In the cinquecento period they were square panels, carved and richly
gilt. There are in the Kensington museum remarkable examples of frames
made for mirrors, either for the sitting-rooms or saloons of the lady
of the house, or for her bedroom. Three of these are type pieces of
such productions. N^{o.} 7695 is a square frame carved in walnut,
standing on a foot, and meant to be carried about. From the daisies in
relief on the foot it may perhaps be ascribed to Marguerite of Valois,
and have been used in the court of Provence. Nothing in the collection
surpasses the elegance and perfection of the ornamental work on the
mouldings. The mirror itself is of polished metal. Another is in a
circular frame, n^{o.} 7694, shaped like a shield, and meant to be
hung up. It was probably made for a duchess of Ferrara. There are
classical details of architectonic kind on the edges of the carving,
which is highly finished. The mirror itself is of metal, and the back
has figures on it in relief and is solidly gilt. The third of these,
n^{o.} 7226, is larger. In design it is like a monumental mural
tablet, with a carved rich finish on the four sides, and the mirror
furnished with a sliding cover in the form of a medallion, containing
a female head of singular nobleness and beauty. In this case the
material is walnut relieved by broad surfaces of inlaid wood. We may
also mention the superb Soltykoff mirror, n^{o.} 7648. This is an
example of metal work throughout, the case, stand, and sliding cover
being of iron damascened with gold and silver in every variety of that
costly process.


Some of the richest pieces of carved walnut furniture belonging
to this period are the bellows. As these are characteristic of the
Italian style of the period in furniture of various kinds, we give
woodcuts of two examples in the South Kensington collection. They
are generally of walnut touched with gilding; and in the form still
familiar to ourselves, which is as old as the classic times.


Besides furniture carved in this way out of solid wood, there were
other materials used and other methods of decorating household
furniture. The tarsia or inlaid work has been alluded to. The
first methods were by geometrical arrangements of small dies; but
magnificent figure designs had been executed in inlaid wood in the
early period of the renaissance, and before it. Work of this kind was
made in two or three woods, and much of it is in pine or cypress. The
large grain is used to express lines of drapery and other movements by
putting whole folds or portions of a dress or figure with the grain
in one direction or another, as may be required. The picture is thus
composed of pieces inclined together; a few bold lines incised and
blackened give such outlines of the form as are not attainable by the
other method, and slight burning with an iron is sometimes added to
produce tone or shadow.

"'Tarsie' or 'Tarsiatura,'" says Mrs. Merrifield, "was a kind of
mosaic in woods. This consisted in representing houses and perspective
views of buildings, by inlaying pieces of wood of various colours and
shades into panels of walnut wood. Vasari speaks rather slightingly of
this art, and says that it was practised chiefly by those persons who
possessed more patience than skill in design; that although he had
seen some good representations in figures, fruits, and animals, yet
the work soon becomes dark, and was always in danger of perishing
from the worms and by fire. Tarsia work was frequently employed in
decorating the choirs of churches as well as the backs of seats and
the wainscoting. It was also used in the panels of doors."

Another method of ornamentation dependent on material that came into
use in this century was the Pietra Dura or mosaic panelling of hard
pebbles. The work is laborious and costly. Not only are the materials
(agate, carnelian, amethyst and marbles of all colours) expensive, but
each part must be ground laboriously to an exact shape and the whole
mosaic fitted together, a kind of refinement of the old marble work
called Alexandrinum. Besides being formed into marble panels for table
tops and cabinet fronts, pietra dura was let into wood, and helped
out with gay colours the more sombre walnut or ebony base of the

Vasari, speaking of particular pieces of furniture of his day,
mentions a "splendid library table" made at the expense and by the
order of Francesco de' Medici in Florence. This table was "constructed
of ebony," that is, veneered with ebony, "divided into compartments by
columns of heliotrope, oriental jasper, and lapis lazuli, which have
the bases and capitals of chased silver. The work is furthermore
enriched with jewels, beautiful ornaments of silver, and exquisite
little figures, interspersed with miniatures and terminal figures of
silver and gold, in full relief, united in pairs. There are, besides,
other compartments formed of jasper, agates, heliotropes, sardonyxes,
carnelians, and other precious stones." This piece was the work of
Bernardo Buontalenti. Another piece of such work is described as a
table "wholly formed of oriental alabaster, intermingled with great
pieces of carnelian, jasper, heliotrope, lapis, and agate, with other
stones and jewels, worth twenty thousand crowns." Another artist,
Bernardino di Porfirio of Leccio, executed an "octangular table of
ebony and ivory inlaid with jaspers." This precious manufacture has
been patronised in the grand ducal factories down to recent times, and
is continued in the royal establishments of the king of Italy.

A feature which was strongly developed in the sixteenth century
furniture is the architectural character of the outlines. It has
already been observed that in the fifteenth century, chests, screens,
stall fronts, doors and panelling followed or fell into the prevailing
arrangements of architectural design in stonework, such as window
tracery, or wall tracery. But in the cinquecento furniture an
architectural character, not proper to woodwork for any constructive
reasons, was imparted to cabinets, chests, &c. They were artificially
provided with parts that imitated the lines, brackets, and all the
details of classic entablatures which have constructive reasons in
architecture, but which, reduced to the proportions of furniture, have
not the same propriety. These subdivisions brought into use the art of
"joinery." The parts obviously necessary for the purpose of framing
up wood, whether a box or chest, a door, a piece of panelling, or a
chair, offer certain opportunities for mouldings or carvings; some
are the thicker portions forming the frames, some the thin flat
boards that fill up the spaces. To add a variety of mouldings, such as
subdivide the roofs of temples or their peristyles, is, of course,
to depart from the carpenter's province and work, and rather to
take furniture out of its obvious forms for the express purpose of
impressing on it the renaissance type.

[Illustration: Knife case. Dated 1564.]

The artists of that time did this with the object of designing "in
character," and special models, such as the old triumphal arches, and
sarcophagi, at Rome, were in view in these designs. On both arches
and tombs sculptured bas-reliefs abounded. Figures reclined over the
arches, and were arranged in square compositions in the panels, for
which the upper stories of the arches made provision. The renaissance
cabinets fell into modifications of this ideal. A century later they
grew into house fronts, and showed doors, arches, and balustrades
inside, with imitative paved floors, looking-glasses set at angles
of 45°, so as to make reflections of these various parts; and in this
humorous fashion the inside of a walnut or ebony cabinet was turned
into the model of an Italian villa.

Again, in place of the running foliated borders and mouldings having
a continuous design, or of compositions of foliage, animals, &c.,
forming in each arch moulding or cornice line a homogeneous line or
circle, the renaissance arabesques introduced an entirely new method
of decoration. In arabesque ornament all sorts of natural objects are
grafted on a central stalk, or, as in the best work, on something like
the stem of a candelabrum. The resources of this method are limited
only by the fancy and skill of the artist, who grafts here a mask,
there a leaf on his stem, and so on. The temptation is the license
and discordance that come in when no unity is needed in a piece of
ornament, and no continuous effort of mind required to think out and
execute one definite idea in designing it. The central stem leads
to an exact balance or reversal of one half of each element in
the ornament, so that one half only of a panel or border has to be
_designed_. In the hands of great artists this kind of ornamentation
has been used with consummate grace.



In the foregoing sketch of the furniture, designs, and manufactures
of central Italy, we have described the history of contemporaneous
furniture throughout Europe. Pope Leo the tenth gave every
encouragement to the reviving arts in Rome, and left that capital the
great nursery of art down to our day. To Italy the great princes
of Europe sent the most promising artists of their dominions,
or encouraged such resort. Most of these men were architects and

Classical learning and splendid living were both encouraged by Henry
the eighth. He is, probably, to be credited with the impulse given
to the court and the country in the direction of the arts and
accomplishments of Italy. If Jean de Mabuse had been patronised by
Henry the seventh, his successor offered tempting terms to Primaticcio
to exchange the service of his brother king, Francis, for his own.
Other artists, contemporaries of Raphael and his scholars, found their
way to England; to these we must add the great master of the German or
Swiss school, Holbein. That the artists both of Holbein's and of the
Italian schools designed furniture in this country we have proofs in
the drawing for a panelled chimney-piece now in the British museum,
and the woodwork of King's college chapel in Cambridge. Another piece
of furniture of this date, showing the mixed character of Italian
and Holbeinesque design, is the very fine "Tudor" cabinet at South

Though the court of Henry and the palaces of his wives were furnished
with splendour, and works of art, especially those of the gold and
silversmith, and jewellery, found their way from foreign parts to such
great houses, the general manners of the country changed less in these
respects than was the case in France and the more wealthy states and
courts of Germany. In the portrait pictures of Henry and his family we
see furniture of a renaissance character, but in the great monuments
of the woodwork of the day the old style prevailed throughout the
reign. The roofs, magnificent specimens of wood construction, were
still subdivided, and supported by king posts, queen posts, hammer
beams, arches connecting these portions and tracery panels in the
spandrels, as in the two previous centuries. All parts were carved and
coloured. The architecture of country houses began to change from
the old form of a castle or a fortress to that of the beautiful and
characteristic style to which we give the name of Tudor. Moats were
retained, but still the principal features of the building were the
depressed arches and perpendicular window mullions that had been
long familiar in England, and were suggested by the wooden houses so
general in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. The
woodwork also and the panelling of halls and chambers retained the
upright lines and mouldings forming the various "linen" patterns.
Leafwork and heads, busts of the reigning princes, or of heroes
such as the Cæsars, filled up the more ornamental sections, giving a
certain classical element which was not fully developed till later:
and most of the renaissance ornamentation of this reign has a Flemish
rather than an Italian character. The woodcuts on the next page show a
series of panels of different countries, many of which are to be found
introduced with slight variations in English work of about the same

Flanders was in advance of this country in renaissance art. This
remark extends to ornament of all kinds, whether of church woodwork,
glass-painting, or domestic furniture. Still the Flemish work of this
renaissance, or (speaking of England) this early Tudor period retains
a mixture of details of the pointed style that makes us sometimes
doubtful how to characterise the style of individual pieces. We may
point to sideboards and chests in illustration. Belgium abounds in
examples of this transition period.

[Illustration: English, 15th century.]

[Illustration: Flemish, 16th century.]

[Illustration: French, 16th century.]

[Illustration: German, 15th century.]

[Illustration: Italian, 16th century.]

In France, the most advanced and most luxurious and cultivated of the
transalpine courts, the renaissance art had advanced far beyond that
of England. Not only had Francis the first and the Medici princesses
invited famous artists out of Italy, but they aimed at imitating
Florentine luxuries and refinements as completely as they could.
Admirable schools of ornamental art, such as that of the Limoges
enamellers and carvers in ivory, were and had been long established
in France. Classic sculpture was produced of great merit in all
materials. Primaticcio and Cellini founded new schools of architects,
painters, and sculptors in France. They employed pupils, and the most
promising found their way to Rome and Florence, associated themselves
with the great masters then practising, and brought back all the
instruction they could obtain.


Jean Goujon stands at the head of these French masters. Besides being
a sculptor and architect, there is little doubt of his having designed
and even sculptured wood furniture. Probably the carved woodwork of
the king's bedroom and adjoining rooms in the old Louvre are by his
hand. Bachelier, of Toulouse, did the same, and pieces are attributed
to him now in the Kensington Museum. Philibert de L'Orme was another
artist in a similar field. Both Goujon and Bachelier showed the
influence of the great Italian masters in their work. The table
engraved (p. 81) is a very elegant example of French sixteenth century

[Illustration] [SEMPER FESTINA LENTE 1577 A. REID. DEL.]

The woodwork in the renaissance houses--the panelling and fittings
of the rooms--was designed by the architect, and was full of quaint,
sometimes extravagant imagery. For example, the architectural and
decorative plates of Jacques Androuet du Cerceau will give some idea
of the dependence of all these details on the architects of the day.
This author published designs for marquetry or wood mosaics, as well
as for all sorts of woodwork. A glance at the heavy cabinets of the
later sixteenth century, of French origin, will show how completely
great pieces of furniture fell into the same character of forms.
Shelves are supported on grotesque figures, while in the mouldings,
instead of simple running lines worked with the plane, as in fifteenth
century woodwork, we see the egg and tongue, acanthus leaves, dentils
and other members of classical architecture, constantly recurring. The
ornaments of French woodworkers show a fondness for conventional bands
or straps interspersed with figures and other ornaments. The panel,
of which we give a woodcut, is French, and dated 1577. It contains
armorial bearings and a monogram, said to be of the Aldine family. In
1577, however, Aldus Manutius the elder was dead, and his son did not
live in France.

Germany and Spain took up the renaissance art in a still more Italian
spirit than England or France. Parts of Italy as well as Spain were
under the same ruler; they both, as far as regards art, felt the
influence of powerful imperial patronage. We are only concerned with
their art here as it refers to woodwork. German wood carvers were
more quaint, minute, and redundant as to decoration. Something of the
vigour, manliness, and inexhaustible sense of humour of the Germans
characterises their woodwork, as it does other art, of which ornament
forms the main feature. The well-known "Triumph of Maximilian," though
a woodcut only, may be taken as a type of German treatment. The great
cities of the empire are full of carved woodwork, house fronts, and
gables. Timber was abundant. The imagery of the period, in wood as
in stone, is intentionally quaint, contorted, humorous. It would
be essentially ugly but for the inexhaustible fecundity of thought,
allegory, and satire that pervades it. It should be added also that
designers and architects had an immense sense of dignity, which we
recognise immediately when we see their architectural compositions as
a whole. Depths and hollows, points of light, prominences and relative
retirement of parts in their arrangements of carved ornament, were
matters thoroughly understood; and they succeed in imparting that
general agreeableness which we call "effect" to the mind of the

As regards Spanish art we cannot do better than adopt the statements
of Señor J. F. Riaño, who says that "the brilliant epoch of sculpture
in wood belongs to the sixteenth century, and was due to the great
impulse it received from the works of Berruguete and Felipe de
Borgoña. He was the chief promoter of the Italian style, and the choir
of the cathedral of Toledo, where he worked so much, is the finest
specimen of the kind in Spain. Toledo, Seville, and Valladolid were at
that time great productive and artistic centres. As a specimen of wood
carving of the Italian renaissance period, applied to an object of
furniture, the magnificent wardrobe by Gregorio Pardo (1549) outside
the chapter house at Toledo may be mentioned as one of the most
beautiful things of its kind. These various styles of ornamentation
were applied to the cabinets 'Bufetes' of such varied form and
materials which were so much the fashion in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. The most characteristic of Spain are such as
are called 'Vargueños.' These cabinets are decorated outside with fine
ironwork, and inside with columns of bone painted and gilt. The
other cabinets or escritoires belonging to that period, which are so
frequently met with in Spain, were to a large extent imported from
Germany and Italy, _while others were made in Spain in imitation of
these_" (the italics are ours), "and as the copies were very similar
it is difficult to classify them. It may be asserted, however, that
cabinets of inlaid wood were made in great perfection in Spain at the
end of the sixteenth century, for in a memorial written by a maker
of tapestry, Pedro Gretierez, who worked for queen Isabella, he says,
'The escritoires and cabinets brought from Germany are worth 500,
600, and 700 reales each, and those of the same kind made in Spain by
Spaniards are to be had for 250 and 300 reales.' Besides these inlaid
cabinets others must have been made in the sixteenth century inlaid
with silver. An edict was issued in 1594 prohibiting, with the utmost
rigour, the making and selling of this kind of merchandise, in order
not to increase the scarcity of silver. The edict says that 'no
cabinets, desks, coffers, brasiers, shoes, tables, or other articles
decorated with stamped, raised, carved, or plain silver, should be



The list of reigns supplies more convenient dates than the beginning
or the end of a century for marking changes of national tastes in such
matters as furniture. The names of kings or queens are justly given to
denote styles, whether of architecture, dress, or personal ornaments,
and utensils of the household. Society in most countries adopts those
habits that are first taken up by the sovereign. In England, the reign
of Elizabeth was pre-eminently a period during which the tastes,
even the fancies, of the queen were followed enthusiastically by her
people. Elizabethan is the name of the style of architecture gradually
developed during her reign. Italian taste, though not perhaps so
pure as it had been a few years earlier, had become far more general;
classical details, however, were mixed even more in England than in
other countries (Flanders excepted) with relics of older styles, the
love of which was still strong in this country. The fireplaces and the
panelling of our old houses, Crewe hall, Speke in Lancashire, Haddon
hall in Derbyshire, Kenilworth castle, Raglan castle, and many other
old buildings, are thoroughly characteristic of this mixed classical
revival. The fashion is quaint and grotesque, the figure sculpture
being good enough to look well in the form of caryatid monsters, half
men, half terminal posts or acanthus foliations, but not sufficiently
correct or graceful to stand altogether alone. Specimens, however,
of very good work can be pointed out, and we give here some of the
details of a panelled room brought lately from Exeter, and now in the
South Kensington collection.

We may say that the character of the woodwork throughout this period
consists in actual architectural façades or portions of façades,
showy arrangements wherever they are possible of the "five orders" of
architecture, or of pedimental fronts. Doorways and chimney fronts
are the principal opportunities in interiors for the exercise of this
composing skill. Panelling remained in use in the great halls and most
of the chambers of the house, but the linen pattern, so graceful and
effective, went out of fashion. The angles of the rooms, the cornices,
and spaces above the doors were fitted with groups of architectural
cornice mouldings, consisting of dentil, egg and tongue, and running
moulds, and sometimes room walls were divided into panels by regular


Heraldry, with rich carved mantlings and quaint forms of scutcheons
(the edges notched and rolled about as if made of the notched edges
of a scroll of parchment), was a frequent ornament. Grotesque terminal
figures, human-headed, supported the front of the dresser--the chief
furniture of the dining-room and of the cabinet. Table supports and
newels of stair rails grew into heavy acorn-shaped balusters. In the
case of stair balusters, these were often ornamented with well-cut
sculpture of fanciful and heraldic figures. Inlaid work also began to
be used in room-panelling as well as furniture; bed heads and testers,
chest fronts, cabinets, &c., were inlaid, but scarcely with delicacy,
during the early Elizabethan period. The art was developed during the
reign of James, when, in point of fact, the larger number of the Tudor
houses were erected.

When the Tudor period was succeeded by that of the Stuarts the same
general characteristics remained, but all the forms of carving grew
heavier and the execution coarser. The table legs, baluster newels,
and cabinet supports, had enormous acorn-shaped masses in the middle.
The objects themselves, such as the great hall tables, instead of
being moveable on trestles, became of unwieldy size and weight.

The general character of Flemish work was much of the same kind and
form. It is not easy to distinguish the nationality of pieces of
Flemish and English oak furniture of this period. The Flemings,
however, retained a higher school of figure carvers, and their
church-stall work and some of their best things are of a higher stamp
and better designed; and where figure sculpture was employed this
superiority is always apparent. A good example of Flemish panelling
can be studied in the doorway at South Kensington, n^{o.} 4329. Their
furniture is represented by an excellent specimen, amongst others, of
this mixed period in the cabinet, n^{o.} 156. Though large and heavy,
and divided into massive parts, the treatment of ornament is well
understood on such pieces. The scroll-work is bold but light, and the
general surface of important mouldings or dividing members is not cut
up by the ornamentation. The panels are very generally carved with
graceful figure subjects, commonly biblical. As the years advanced
into the seventeenth century Flemish work became bigger and less
refined. Diamond-shaped panels were superimposed on the square, turned
work was split and laid on, drop ornaments were added below tables and
from the centres of the arches of arched panels; all these unnecessary
ornaments were mere additions and encumbrances to the general


Our own later Jacobean or Stuart style borrowed this from the Flemish.
The Flemings and the Dutch had long imported woodwork into England,
and it is to that commerce that we may trace the greater likeness
between the late Flemish renaissance carving and corresponding English
woodwork, than between the English and the French. Dutch designs
in furniture, though allied to the Flemish, were swelled out into
enormous proportions. The huge wardrobe cabinets made by the Dutch of
walnut wood with ebony inlaid work and waved ebony mouldings are still
to be met with. The panels of the fronts are broken up into numerous
angles and points.

In France the fine architectural wood construction of the style of
Philibert de l'Orme and so many great masters maintained itself, and
a number of fine cabinets and sideboards in various collections attest
the excellence of the work. The cabinet on the opposite page (n^{o.}
2573 in the Kensington museum) is of late French sixteenth century
work, and combines the characteristics of the heavy furniture made in
the north of Europe with a propriety of treatment in the ornamentation
of mouldings and cornices peculiar to French architects, who continued
to design such structures for the houses they built and fitted up. The
descendants of Catherine de' Medicis and their generation were trained
by Italian artists and altogether in Italian tastes, and no great
change occurred in France in woodwork or furniture till the sixteenth
century had closed.

In German and in Italian furniture the principal changes were in the
direction of veneered and marquetry work. The same vigorous quaintness
continued to distinguish German decorative detail as has been already

The Italians carved wood during the later sixteenth and the whole of
the seventeenth centuries with extraordinary grace and vigour. The
next woodcut, a pedestal in oak, shows their power in hard material:
and smaller objects, such as the frames of pictures, were cut out in
great sweeping leaves, perhaps of the acanthus, showing an ease and
certainty in the artist that look as if he were employed upon some
substance more yielding than the softest wood. Chairs were cut in
the same rich style, and this luxurious carving was not unfrequently
applied to the decoration of state carriages. Venice maintained a
pre-eminence in this perhaps in a greater degree than Florence, though
in the valley of the Arno the willow, lime, sycamore, and other soft
white woods were to be had in abundance, and invited great freedom in



We may now treat of an important epoch in the history of modern
furniture. Venice was the seat of the manufacture of glass. In the
sixteenth century workmen had received state protection for the
manufacture of mirrors, which till that time had been mere hand
mirrors and made of mixed metals highly polished. Gilt wood frames
were extensively manufactured for these Venetian looking-glasses,
which found their way all over Europe. Besides gilt frames, gilt
chairs, carved consoles, and other highly ornate furniture were
introduced as the century went on, and most of this took its origin
from Venice. The woodcut represents a small frame, n^{o.} 1605, at
South Kensington.

Another remarkable class of gilt woodwork, for which Florence
and other cities had found trained carvers, was the framework of
carriages. In England, France, Germany, and Italy carriages during the
seventeenth century were stately, and certainly wonderful pieces of
furniture. Examples of these showy carriages exist still. There is a
collection belonging to the royal family of Portugal, now preserved
at Lisbon, one or two in the museum of the hôtel de Cluny at Paris,
dating from the time of Martin and painted by him, and there are a few
carriages of old date at Vienna and probably in some private
houses. The state-coach of the Speaker is an English example of the
seventeenth century.

Germany differed less from Italy even than France in wood carving,
interior room fittings, and the frequent pedimental compositions
containing grotesques, or heraldic achievements on a scale of
sumptuous display. The German princes were many of them skilful and
intelligent patrons of art, and made collections in their residences.
A well-known piece belonging to the early seventeenth century
is preserved in the royal museum at Berlin. This is known as the
Pomeranian art cabinet. It is 4 ft. 10 in. high, 3 ft. 4 in. wide by 2
ft. 10 in. deep, made of ebony with drawers of sandal wood lined with
red morocco leather, and is mounted with silver and pietra dura work,
and fitted inside with utensils of various kinds. The chair, of which
we give a woodcut, is German of about the same date.


In the west of Europe, during the seventeenth century, marquetry
was extensively used, and became the leading feature of furniture
decoration. Inlaying had long been in use; but the new marquetry was
a picturesque composition, a more complete attempt at pictorial
representation. It comes before us in old furniture under various
forms, and many examples of it may be studied in different
collections. In this country we may consider it mainly as an imported
art of the reign of William and Mary, when Dutch marquetry furniture
became the fashion in the form of bandy-legged chairs, upright clock
fronts, secrétaires or bureaux, or writing cabinets which were closed
in the upper and middle parts with doors, and other pieces that
offered surfaces available for such decoration. The older designs on
work of this kind represent tulips and other flowers, foliage, birds,
&c., all in gay colours, generally the self colours of the woods
used. Sometimes the eyes and other salient points are in ivory
or mother-of-pearl. In France, in the earlier marquetry designs,
picturesque landscapes, broken architecture, and figures are
represented. Colours are occasionally stained on the wood. Ivory and
ebony were favourite materials; as also in Germany and in Italy.

It is to be noted that as the vigour of the great sixteenth century
movement died out, the mania for making furniture in the form of
architectural models died out also; nor do we find it becoming a
fashion again till quite modern times, under the Gothic and other
revivals at the end of the last and the beginning of the present
century. The architectural idea was in itself full of grandeur, and
it was productive of very beautiful examples in the sarcophagus-shaped
chests or cassoni, and in cabinet work, though the façades of temples
and the vaults and columns of triumphal arches in Rome do not bear
to be too completely reduced to such small proportions. With the
introduction of marquetry into more general use we recognise not
only a new or renewed method of decoration, but a changed ideal of
construction. Boxes, chests, tables, cabinets, &c., were conceived
as such. They were made more convenient for use, and were no longer
subdivided by architectural mouldings and columns, all so much extra
work added to the sides and fronts.

About the middle of the seventeenth century a kind of work altogether
new in the manufactory of modern furniture made its appearance under
the reign of Louis the fourteenth of France. That king rose to a
position in Europe that no monarch of modern times had occupied
before, and the great ministers of his reign had the wisdom to
take special measures for the establishment of the various arts and
manufactures in which either the Italians or Flemings excelled the
French as well as other nations. Colbert, his minister of finance,
amongst his commercial reforms of learned societies and schools of
art, founded in 1664 an "Academie royale de peinture d'architecture
et de sculpture." It was into this that the designers of architecture,
woodwork, ornament or furniture, were admitted. He established also
the famous factory of the "Gobelins" for making pictorial tapestry.
The place took its name from the brothers Gobelin, Flemings, who had a
dyeing-house in the Rue Mouffetard. Lebrun, the painter, was the first
head of it. Another important name is that of Jean Lepautre. He has
left numerous designs of ornament behind him for panelling, mirror
frames, carriages, &c. Lepautre was a pupil of Adam Philippon. This
artist, whose chief calling was that of a joiner and cabinet maker,
has also left designs.

To Colbert is due the credit of pushing forward the renewal or
completion of the royal palaces; especially the château of Versailles.
For the furniture of this palace we find the new material employed,
namely, boule marquetry, which owes its name to the maker. The
orthography of proper names was still often unsettled at that time,
and we find the name variously spelt. The correct way seems to have
been Boulle; but we shall retain the more usual mode, both for the
artist and for his work. André Charles Boule was born in 1642, and
made the peculiar kind of veneered work composed of tortoiseshell and
thin brass, to which are sometimes added ivory and enamelled metal;
brass and shell, however, are the general materials. Boule was made
head of the royal furniture department and was lodged in the Louvre. A
very interesting early specimen of this work is now at Windsor
castle, and other early pieces belong to Sir Richard Wallace. The date
attributed to the first makes it doubtful whether Boule may not have
seen the same sort of work practised in other workshops. This kind of
marquetry has, however, been assigned by general consent to Boule.

In the earlier work of Boule the inlay was produced at great cost,
owing to the waste of valuable material in cutting; and the shell is
left of its natural colour; in later work the manufacture was more
economical. Two or three thicknesses of the different material were
glued or stuck together and sawn through at one operation. An
equal number of figures and of matrices or hollow pieces exactly
corresponding were thus produced, and by counter-charging two or more
designs were obtained by the same sawing. These are technically known
as "boule and counter," the brass forming the groundwork and the
pattern alternately. In the later or "new boule," the shell is laid on
a gilt ground or on vermilion. The brass is elaborately chased with a

Besides these plates of brass for marquetry ornaments, Boule, who
was a sculptor of no mean pretensions, founded and chased up feet,
edgings, bracket supports, &c., to his work in relief, or in the
round, also in brass. The original use of these parts was to protect
the edges and angles, and bind the thin inlaid work together where it
was interrupted by angles in the structure. Afterwards brass mounts,
more or less relieved, were added to enrich the flat designs of
the surfaces. Classical altars, engraved or chased as mere surface
decoration, would receive the addition of claw feet actually relieved.
Figures standing on such altars, pedestals, &c., were made in relief
more or less bold. In this way Boule's later work is not only a
brilliant and rich piece of surface decoration, but its metallic parts
are repoussé or embossed with thicknesses of metal ornament. In boule
work all parts of the marquetry are held down by glue to the bed,
usually of oak. The metal is occasionally fastened down by small brass
pins or nails, which are hammered flat and chased over so as to be


In England, during the reign of Charles the second and of James,
French furniture was imported; the old Tudor oak lingered in country
houses. Boule hardly found its way till the following century to
England. Splendid silver furniture consisting of plates embossed and
repoussé, heightened with the graver and of admirable design, was
occasionally made for the Court and for great families. Wood carving,
in the manner of the school of Sir Christopher Wren, as in the bracket
here shown, was long continued in connexion with architecture and
furniture. Another style was carried to the highest pitch of technical
execution and finish, as well as of truth of natural forms in the
carving of Grinling Gibbons. This artist was English, but partially of
Dutch descent. He carved foliage, birds, flowers, busts and figures,
pieces of drapery, &c., with astonishing dexterity. We find his
work principally on mirror frames, wall panels, chimney pieces, &c.
Specimens may be seen over the communion table of St. James's church,
Westminster, and in the choir of St. Paul's cathedral. The finest
examples known are probably the carved work at Petworth house in
Sussex, and at Chatsworth. His material is generally lime and other
white woods. The flowers and foliage of his groups or garlands sweep
round in bold and harmonious curves, making an agreeable whole, though
for architectural decorative carving no work was ever so free from
conventional arrangements. His animals or his flowers appear to be so
many separate creations from nature, laid or tied together separately,
though in reality formed out of a block, and remaining still portions
of a group cut in the solid wood.

[Illustration: A. REID PEARSON, S.C.]

Gibbons died in 1721. Walpole mentions Watson as having been his pupil
and assistant at Chatsworth. Drevot of Brussels and Laurens of Mechlin
were other pupils: the former did not survive him. His school had
many followers, for we find the acanthus carvings on mouldings, round
doorways and chimney pieces, down to the middle of the eighteenth
century, executed in England with a masterly hand. Specimens of such
work have been recently acquired in the Kensington museum, the fruits
of the demolition of old London, continually in progress. The border
of this page represents one of these admirable pieces; a door and
frame from a house in Lincoln's-inn. Nothing can surpass the perfect
mastery of execution. All the work is cut clean and sharp out of wood
which admits of no tentative cuts, and requires no rubbing down with
sand paper, and in which errors are not to be repaired. Lengths of
these mouldings were worked off by hand, evidently without hesitation
and without mishap. Country houses abound with this fine though
unpretending work, and give ample evidence of the existence of a
school of fine workmen, carvers at the command of the architects of
the day.

We may here revert to an important addition to room furniture, which
became European during this century. Mirrors had been made from the
earliest times in polished metal, but were first made of glass at
Venice. In 1507 Andrea and Dominico, two glass workers of Murano,
declared before the Council of ten that they had found a method of
making "good and perfect mirrors of crystal glass." A monopoly of
the right of manufacture was granted to the two inventors for twenty
years. In 1564, the mirror makers became a distinct guild of glass
workers. The plates were not large: from four to five feet are the
largest dimensions met with till late in the eighteenth century. They
were commonly bevilled on the edges. The frames in soft wood (as
in the woodcut, p. 100) are specimens of free carving during the
seventeenth century. Both in Venice and in Florence soft woods, such
as willow or lime, were used. The mirror-plates were, at first, square
or oblong. Towards the end of the century we find them shaped at the
top. In the eighteenth century they were generally shaped at the top
and bottom. Figures were sunk in the style of intaglio or gem cutting
on the back of the glass and left with a dead surface, the silver
surface of the mercury showing through as the mirror is seen from the

The looking-glasses made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
by colonies of Venetian workmen in England and France had the plates
finished by an edge gently bevilled of an inch in width, following
the form of the frame, whether square or shaped in curves. This gives
preciousness and prismatic light to the whole glass. It is of great
difficulty in execution, the plate being held by the workman over his
head and the edge cut by grinding. The feats of skill of this kind in
the form of interrupted curves and short lines and angles are rarely
accomplished by modern workmen, and the angle of the bevil itself
is generally too acute, whereby the prismatic light produced by this
portion of the mirror is in violent and too showy contrast to the


In England, looking-glasses came into general use soon after the
Restoration. "Sir Samuel Morland built a fine room at Vauxhall in
1667, the inside all of looking-glass, and fountains, very pleasant
to behold. It stands in the middle of the garden covered with Cornish
slate, on the point whereof he placed a Punchinello." At about the
same period the house of Nell Gwynne, "the first good one as we enter
St. James' Square from Pall Mall, had the back room on the ground
floor entirely lined with looking-glass within memory," writes
Pennant, "as was said to have been the ceiling." "La rue St.
André-des-arts," says Savarin, speaking of Paris in the seventeenth
century, "eut le premier café _orne de glaces_ et de tables de marbre
à peu près comme on les voit de nos jours."


During the seventeenth century, tapestry, the material in use for
hanging and decorating the walls of splendid rooms in France, was made
also in this country. Factories were set up at Mortlake, where several
copies were made of the Raphael tapestries, the cartoons of which were
in this country; and in Soho fields. Sometimes tapestry was hung on
bare walls; occasionally it was strained over the older panelled work
of the days of the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns, the fruitful period of
country house architecture in England.

[Illustration: An English table and chairs of the year 1633, from a
woodcut of that date.]

With a woodcut (on preceding page) of a bedroom holy-water vessel we
finish the account of this period.



As the eighteenth century draws on, we arrive at furniture of which
examples are more readily to be met with, and we are reminded of
houses and rooms more or less unaltered which have come under general

The fashions were led in France. Boule work grew into bigger and more
imposing structures as the manufacture passed into the hands of a
greater number of workmen. Commodes or large presses were made with
edgings and mounts, in the form of "egg and tongue" and other classic
or renaissance mouldings. The tops were formed into one or three
pedestals, to hold clocks and candelabra. Other changes were
introduced to carry out the taste for gilding which then prevailed,
and the broken shell-shaped woodwork, popularly known as Louis quinze
work, began to be adopted for the frames of large glasses and the
mouldings of room panels. The panels grew tall, were arched or shaped
at the top, and occupied the wall space from the dado to the moulded
and painted ceilings, in narrow panels. The fantastic forms of curve,
emblems of the affected manners of the day, called Rococo from the
words _rocaille coquille_, rock and shell curves, were well calculated
to show off the lustre of gilding. The gold was admirably laid on,
thick and very pure, and both in bronze gilding and in the woodwork,
maintains its lustre to the present time. The severe classical
grandeur of the old roll mouldings of fireplace jambs, wall and door
panels, of the former reign gave way everywhere to this lighter work.

Much early eighteenth century furniture was bombé, or rolled about in
curious curves or undulations of surface, partly to display the skill
of the cabinet-makers, and partly to show off the marquetry, which
formed its only decoration. Another step was the introduction of
mechanical applications and contrivances. The tops of tables lift off,
and the action causes other portions to rise, to open, and so on.
It is to be remembered that bedrooms were often used as boudoirs or
studies, and that furniture which could shut private papers up without
requiring that they should be put away into drawers was convenient
in such rooms. As the century advanced, it became customary to form
a sort of alcove at the end of bedrooms in France. The centre portion
contained the bed, hidden by curtains, the spaces between it and the
two walls were shut in with doors, and formed dressing closets, which
could be used while the rest of the room was shut off. The bedroom
then became a reception room and was thrown open with other receiving
rooms of the house. Bureaux or mechanically shutting tables, writing
desks, and the like, under this arrangement were a necessity for small

A school of painters arose in the reign of Louis the fifteenth who
devoted themselves to the decoration of room woodwork and ceilings;
Charles Delafosse, Antoine Coypel, Jean Restout, and many pupils. We
must associate the names of these artists with those of the Le Pautre
family. Jean died before the end of the seventeenth century, but
Pierre took part in the later works of the Louvre and of Versailles
under Jules Hardouin Mansard, "surintendant des bastiments." Juste
Aurèle Meissonnier did still more to make this showy work popular. He
designed all sorts of room furniture and woodwork. It is amongst the
published works of these artists that we must seek the eighteenth
century designs of French fashion. Painted panels were inserted
into the wood ceilings, over the tops of looking-glasses, and
_dessus-portes_ or the short panels between the tops of doors and the
line of cornice. These are generally in chiaro scuro, or light and
shade only, and represent families of cupids. Nymphs and fauns,
shepherdesses, and the supposed inhabitants of a fanciful Arcadia,
formed the general subjects of room decorations.

A process belonging to the same reign should be noticed, called after
the inventor, Vernis-Martin, a carriage painter, born about the year
1706. By carriage painter we must understand a painter of heraldic
ornaments, flower borders, &c. His varnish is a fine transparent lac
polish, probably derived from Japan through missionaries, who had
resided there before the occurrence of the great massacres which
closed Japan to all but the Dutch traders. The work which we commonly
associate with his name is generally found on furniture such as tables
or book cases, as well as on needle cases, snuff boxes, fans, and
étuis, on a gold ground. The gold is waved or striated by some of
those ingenious processes still in use amongst the Japanese, by which
the paste or preparation on which their gold is laid is worked
over while still soft. One or two carriages beautifully painted in
vernis-martin are kept in the hotel de Cluny at Paris. Although it is
popularly held that Martin declared his secret should die with him,
and that he kept his word, yet it is certain that he left imitators
and pupils who painted and enamelled in his manner furniture of
various kinds. In Sir R. Wallace's collection there are two pieces,
coloured green and varnished, one a table and the other a cabinet
or bookcase, of vernis-martin work. There is on these no ornament
excepting the varnish and the gold mounts that are added at the edges.
The most beautiful objects that bear his name are the small wares,
such as fans, needle books, or snuff boxes.

Later in the century we meet with other French names, Riesener, David,
and Gouthière, who gained great reputation, the two first as makers of
marquetry, and the latter as a founder and chaser of metal furniture
mounts, such as edgings and lock scutcheons.

The history of French furniture is in general the history of that of
other nations. The art of wood carving was still maintained in Italy
and applied, as in the instance of this distaff, to utensils of all
kinds. In England we had, about the middle of the century, a school of
carvers, gilders, and ornamenters following the extravagant style of
the French. The most prominent name is that of Thomas Chippendale,
who worked from the middle till towards the end of the century. He was
descended from a family of carvers, and inherited the skill which
had been general in his craft since the days of Gibbons. We find much
rococo carving on bed testers, round fireplaces, over doors, &c., in
our English houses built during the reign of Anne and the two first
Georges. Other pieces of furniture, such as carved tables, wardrobe
cabinets, chair backs or dinner trays, go by Chippendale's name. They
are in mahogany, and follow the architectural moulding lines often
seen in the works of Sir William Chambers and the brothers Adam.


Among the room decorations of the century we may notice the shelves
for holding Chinese porcelain and imitations of Chinese designs in
delft pottery, a taste imported by William the third and the members
of his court who had lived in Holland. The chimney pieces at
Hampton court and elsewhere are provided with woodwork to hold these
ornaments. Hogarth paints them in his interiors, and the rage for
purchasing such objects at sales became a popular subject of ridicule.

To the early eighteenth century belongs a class of furniture of which
the decorations consisted of panels of old Chinese and Japanese lac
work; fitted, as the marquetry of the day was, with rich gilt metal
mounts. In England it was the fashion to imitate the Japan work, and
such old furniture is occasionally met with: black, with raised figure
decorations of Chinese character done in gold dust.

A great change is observable in the French furniture, panel carving
and such decorations from the period of Louis the sixteenth. Several
causes at the time combined to give art of this kind a new as well as
a healthier direction. Amongst these we may mention the discoveries
made at Herculaneum and Pompeii. It is needless to say that the
peculiar cause of the destruction of both those towns had preserved
in them perfect memorials, in many forms, of the social life of
antiquity. Decorations, utensils and furniture of all kinds that were
made of metal, and had resisted the action of damp and time, were
recovered in fair condition. One result, both in France and England,
was a return to a better feeling for classical style.

Room decorations and furniture soon reached the highest point of
elegance which French renaissance art of a sumptuous kind has touched
since the sixteenth century. The panelling of rooms, usually in
oak and painted white, was designed in severe lines with straight
mouldings and pilasters. The pilasters were decorated with
well-designed carved work, small, close, and splendidly gilt. The
quills that fill the fluted columns still seen round so many interiors
were cut into beads or other subdivisions with much care. Fine
arabesque work in the style of the "loggie" of Raphael was partly
carved in relief, partly drawn and painted, or gilt, with gold of a
yellow or of a green hue; the green being largely alloyed with silver.
An example of the best work of this kind may be referred to in the
beautiful room brought from Paris and now preserved, reconstructed, at
South Kensington. The houses built for members of the brilliant court
of queen Marie Antoinette were filled with admirable work in this
manner, or in the severer but still delicate carved panelling in wood
plainly painted. The royal factories of the Gobelins and of Sèvres
turned out also their most beautiful productions to decorate rooms,
furniture, and table service. In the former of these, tapestries were
made for wall hangings, for chair backs, seats, and sofas. Rich silks
from the looms of Lyons, and from those of Lucca, Genoa, and Venice
were also employed for this kind of furniture both in France and
Flanders, Germany, Italy, and Spain, as well as in our own country. In
all these matters France led the fashions.

During this brilliant period, from 1774 to 1790, we meet with the
names of several artists employed for painting the panelling of
rooms, the lunettes over chimney fronts, and the panels of ceilings.
Fragonard, Natoire, Boucher (the director of the Academy) are among
the foremost of these. Their history perhaps belongs rather to that of
painters than of our present subject; but they are too much mixed up
with eighteenth century furniture not to find mention even in a sketch
like the present.

Other artists such as Delafosse, Lalonde, Cauvet and Salembier
designed arabesques, decorative woodwork, and furniture. The designs
of many of them are still extant: and Cauvet dedicated a book of them
to Monsieur, the king's brother. Four tables with silver-gilt mounts
of his design were made for the queen's house of the Trianon, and
afterwards removed to the favourite residence of the emperor Napoleon
at St. Cloud. Robert and Barthélemy were sculptors and bronze workers
who made mounts for furniture, and engravers. Meissonnier, Oppenord,
Queverdo worked in the same way. Hubert Robert, a painter, helped
Micque in all the decorations of the Trianon.

Two or three cabinet-makers have transmitted a great name, though
little seems to be known of their history. Of these Riesener and David
Roentgen were _ébénistes_, or workers in fine cabinet making. The
designation is taken from the ebony and other exotic woods, which had
come into more general use in Europe from the end of the seventeenth
century subsequently to 1695, when the Dutch settled in Ceylon. The
French obtained ebony from Madagascar, but in very small quantities.
After the settlements at Ceylon we find it introduced into Europe on a
larger scale. There are green and yellow varieties but the black wood
is the most valuable, and Ceylon is the country in which the greatest
quantities are produced. We still find in English houses much old
carved ebony furniture, mainly chairs and cabinets, dating generally
from the early years of the Dutch occupation.

Riesener used tulip (_Liriodendron tulipifera_), rosewood, holly
(_ilex aquifolium_), maple (_acer campestre_), laburnum (_cytisus
Alpinus_), purple wood (_copaifera pubiflora_), &c. Wreaths and
bunches of flowers, exquisitely worked and boldly designed, form
centres of his marquetry panels which are often plain surfaces of
one wood. On the sides, in borders and compartments, we find diaper
patterns in three or four quiet colours. These conventional sides or
corners of diaper work help to give point to the graceful compositions
that form the principal feature in his marquetry. Chests of drawers
and cabinets are sometimes met with in snake wood and other varieties
of brown wood, of which the grain is waved or curled without
marquetry. The name of Riesener is to be found stamped sometimes
on the panel itself, sometimes on the oak lining of the pieces of
furniture made by him.

A number of exceptional examples of Riesener's cabinets are described
in the appendix to the detailed catalogue of furniture in the South
Kensington museum. The best pieces are from the collection now
belonging to Sir Richard Wallace. The most imposing of these is the
rounded bureau or secrétaire, made for Stanislaus, king of Poland.
It is beautifully inlaid on the top, ends, and back with designs
emblematic of the sciences, &c., and with bust heads. The letters S.
R. are put upon a broad band of decoration that runs round the lower
portion of the bureau. A similar piece of furniture with gilt bronze
candle branches by Gouthière, on the sides, is now in the Louvre. Both
are signed.

David Roentgen was born at Niewid near Luneville, in which latter city
he worked as a contemporary of Riesener, but younger by some years
in age. He also made marquetry in lighter woods and of rather a
gayer tone than those of Riesener. Both of them often worked in plain
mahogany, and in such cases trusted for the effectiveness of their
pieces to the excellence of the mounts of chased and gilt metal by
their contemporary, Gouthière. In his light marquetry David used
various white woods. Pear, lime, and light-coloured woods were
occasionally tinted with various shades by burning. This process,
originally effected by hot irons, is better and more delicately
managed by hot sand. Only browns and dark ochrous yellows are obtained
by this means, and the more delicately toned marquetry is without hues
of green or blue. Those tints, however, can be obtained by steeping
the wood in various chemical solutions.

As a maker of gilt bronze furniture mounts Gouthière had a wide
reputation. He belongs to the period of Louis the sixteenth. With
him Riesener and David worked in concert; all their best pieces are
finished with the mounts of Gouthière. Among examples in this country
is the cabinet in the royal collection at Windsor. No signature has
been discovered on this piece, but the exquisite modelling of
the flower borders, the metal mouldings and mounts, and the crown
supported by figures of cupids that surmounts the whole, leave us in
no hesitation as to its authorship.

Gouthière modelled and chased up similar work for carriages, and
mounts for marble chimney pieces, such as that in the boudoir just
above referred to. The gilding on these mounts is so good and has
been laid on so massively that the metal has in general suffered no
substantial injury down to our own times, and can be restored to its
original lustre by soap and water. Indeed, the fine old work dating
from the two previous reigns by André Boule and other artists, after
the designs of Berain, has suffered little. The boule clocks, with
arched glass panels in front and spreading supports and figure
compositions on the top, have in most cases come down to us clothed
in their original water gilding, easily to be cleaned though looking
black when they have been long left to neglect.

Contemporaneous with Riesener in France was the Italian maker of
marquetry, Maggiolino. In Florence, Venice, Milan, and Genoa, cabinets
and commodes of marquetry were produced. German cabinet-makers
manufactured the same work through the earlier part of the century.
Bombé or curved furniture was also made by the Germans with great, we
may almost say with extravagant, skill. To maintain mouldings on the
angles of these curved and waving surfaces is a feat in workmanship
of difficult attainment, and German cabinet-makers seem to have
taken delight in exhibiting such skill. The quaint work of the minute
carvings in box and other hard woods, admirably carried out during the
times of the immediate pupils of Dürer and the school of well-trained
artists who succeeded him, was no longer to be found. The desolating
wars that swept over this part of Europe during the days of Louis the
fourteenth and Frederick the great seem to have exhausted the country,
and worn out the ancient industry of the cities. Guilds died away, the
men who composed them being required for the exigencies of war, and
the wealth of the inhabitants was so reduced that the leisure to enjoy
and even the means to buy fine productions of art existed no longer.

Few collectors have done greater service to the study of English art
than Horace Walpole; and few have had the opportunities he enjoyed
a century ago, when he was able to fill Strawberry Hill with a
collection of mediæval, renaissance, and later works of art of every
description. A lively passage, alluding to the contract for the roof
and the glazing of King's college chapel, Cambridge, commemorates his
value for these art traditions. "As much," he says, "as we imagine
ourselves arrived at higher perfection in the arts, it would not
be easy for a master of a college to go into St. Margaret's parish,
Southwark, to _bespeak_ such a roof as that of King's college, and a
dozen or two of windows so admirably drawn, and order them to be sent
home by such a day, as if they were bespeaking a chequered pavement."

A certain sort of revival of Gothic design took place in England
about this period: and later in the century feeble attempts at Gothic
woodwork were made here and there; but there was little national taste
in furniture apart from a close imitation of French fashions. A still
greater change was produced by Sir William Chambers, the architect of
modern Somerset house, who wrote a book on civil architecture and room
decorations. Another name connected with furniture has been already
mentioned, that of Thomas Chippendale. He published his book of
designs in 1764, containing complete sides of rooms, looking-glass
frames, chimney fronts, &c. He and his contemporaries designed tables,
cabinets and moveable furniture of every description, including
carriages, on which, indeed, furniture designers of all periods were
employed. Chippendale and his sons or assistants produced frames and
cornices for gilding so different from his well-made wardrobes, &c.,
that there must have been more than one of the family engaged
in superintending these dissimilar kinds of objects. He is a
representative maker. The son has been sometimes credited with
the mahogany woodwork of which delicacy and exactness are the
characteristics. Satin wood came into fashion in England during the
last half of the century. Both Cipriani and Angelica Kauffmann painted
medallions, cameo ornaments and borders on table tops and fronts,
harpsichord cases, &c., made of satin wood or coloured in the manner
of the vernis-martin work. The former decorated Carlton house.

Mathias Lock, with whom was associated a cabinet maker named Copeland,
also published designs of furniture of every kind. A semi-classic
Pompeian or Roman arabesque feeling runs through the ornamentation of
these pieces of furniture. They are light in make, often elegant, and
more or less follow the taste prevailing in France and Italy. Gillow,
the founder of a respectable existing firm, belongs to this period;
but, as yet, nothing has come to light regarding his early history
or apprenticeship. Another name connected both with furniture and
decorative arts of all kinds was that of Robert Adam; he was of Scotch
extraction and had travelled in Italy; and his brother John built
many private houses; for example, the Adelphi and Portland place.
Furniture, carriages, sedan chairs, and plate were amongst the objects
for which Robert, perhaps both the brothers, gave designs. Classical
capitals, mouldings and niches, circles and lunettes, with shell
flutings and light garlands, were favourite features in their façade
ornaments. The sideboards, bust terms (or pedestals), urn-shaped knife
boxes; the chairs, commodes, &c., were all designed to accord with the
architectural decorations. Polished-steel fire-grates belong to this
period, and we believe to the authorship of the brothers Adam.

A cabinet maker named A. Heppelwhite published in 1789 a large set of
designs for every sort of reception room and bedroom furniture. We see
in these the mahogany chairs with pierced strapwork backs, library
and pedestal tables, mechanical desks and bureaux, which continued in
fashion during the early years of this century. Fanciful sashed glass
doors closed in the bookcases; interrupted pediments and pedestals
provided space for busts round the tops of these cases. Fluted legs,
and occasionally lion-headed supports, uphold the tables and chairs.
Knife cases to set on the sideboard, and urn stools for the breakfast
table, are among these designs. Tea chests and tea caddies indicate
that tea was then coming into general use. Thomas Sheraton, another
cabinet-maker, published towards the end of the century an extensive
"Dictionary" of his trade. His designs, like those just mentioned,
embrace beds, sofas, &c. Mechanical dressing and washing tables, very
ingeniously contrived, were among his productions. We meet with these
still; of Spanish mahogany, and admirable workmanship. The structure
of all these pieces was light and strong. Time has had little effect
on wood so well seasoned and on pieces put together in so workmanlike
a manner.

The French revolution put a complete stop to the old arts of domestic
life in France. As in the sixteenth century, so in the eighteenth
the new ideas rushed extravagantly in the direction of republican
antiquity and Roman taste and sentiment. It was under the empire,
after the Italian wars and the Egyptian expedition, that the means and
taste for expenditure upon civil furniture and decorations revived,
with an assumption of classicalism. The art of the time however,
inspired by the hard paintings of David, is but a dry and affected
attempt at a fresh renaissance. In furniture mounts, chairs, &c., of
supposed classical designs, it is known as the art of the "empire."
This country copied the fashion as soon as the return of peace opened
the continent to English travellers. Furniture and room decorations
were designed after classical ideals, and we see chairs and tables
imitating bas-reliefs and the drawings on antique vases. It is
probable that collectors, such as Sir William Hamilton and the members
of the Dilettanti society, sensibly influenced the prevailing style.

James Wyatt the architect, about the end of the last century, rebuilt
or cleared out many of our mediæval churches and houses, and took to
designing what he called Gothic for room decoration and furniture.
Sir Jeffrey Wyatt or Sir Jeffrey Wyattville (as he became) made great
changes at Windsor castle, under George the fourth. Pugin designed
some flimsy Gothic furniture for the same palace. At a later period of
his life, however, he did much, both as a designer and a writer upon
art, to turn attention to the principles on which mediæval designs of
all kinds were based.

We are now, perhaps, returning to renaissance art in furniture, and
it is certain that collections such as those lately exhibited by Sir
Richard Wallace; the Exposition Retrospective in Paris in 1865; the
loan exhibitions of 1862 in London, and that of Gore house at an
earlier period; and above all the great permanent collection at South
Kensington, must contribute to form the public taste.

In the review which we have made of what may be called the household
art of so many ages, it would be difficult to assign an absolute
superiority to the artists of any one generation, considering what
countless beautiful objects have been made for the personal use and
enjoyment of men. The sculptured thrones of ivory and gold, the seats
and couches of bronze overlaid with gold and damascened with the
precious metals, the inlaid chariots, tables, chests, and jewelled
caskets of antiquity; the imagery, the shrines, the stalls, and
roofs of the middle ages; the wood sculpture, tarsia, pietra dura,
damascening and the endless variety of objects produced during the
days of Leonardo, Michel Angelo, and Raphael, down to the carving of
Gibbons, and the splendid work of Boule, Riesener and Gouthière, are
all in various ways excellent.

We must not venture to call one class of productions finer than
another where the differences are so great and such high perfection
has been attained in each. Every style and fashion when at its best
has resulted from the utmost application of mind and time on the part
of trained artists; and the highest art can never be cheap, neither
can any machinery or any help from mechanical assistance become
substitutes for art. Beauty which is created by the hand of man is
not the clever application of mechanical forces or of scientific
inventions, but is brought to light, whether it be a cabinet front or
the Venus of Milo, often with pain, always by the entire devotion of
the labour, the intellect, the experience, the imagination and the
affection, of the artist and the workman.



It is interesting to trace the changes that the more common and
necessary pieces of furniture have undergone during successive
historic ages. The social life of ancient times, even of the middle
ages which come so much nearer to us in point of years, differs from
that of our own in its whole aspect. Yet though personal habits have
so greatly altered the general wants of men remain much the same.
Hence such objects as beds, chairs, tables, chests, dressers,
wardrobes or cabinets, carriages or litters, have been always used and
maintained a certain identity. With a summary of the changes of
form and methods of decoration of a few of the principal objects of
personal use we shall conclude.

_Bedsteads and Couches._

Beds served often in antiquity and in the middle ages, and have served
at all times, almost as much for sitting or reclining by day as for
sleeping on at night.

To what has been already said on the subject of antique beds little
need be added. The Egyptian bed and the pillow or crutch, of wood or
more valuable materials, have been described. Examples of the crutch
are numerous in the British museum and in the Louvre. "The Egyptians
had couches," says Sir G. Wilkinson, "but they do not appear to have
reclined upon them more frequently than modern Europeans, in whose
houses they are equally common. The ottomans were simple square sofas
without backs, raised from the ground nearly to the same level as
the chair. The upper part was of leather, or of cotton stuff, richly
coloured, like the cushions of the fauteuils, and the box was of
wood painted with various devices and ornamented with the figures of
captives, who were supposed to be degraded by holding so humiliating
a position. And the same idea gave them a place on the footstools of a
royal throne."

The bed, [Greek: lexos], of the Greeks was covered with skins, over
the skins with woollen blankets; sometimes a linen cloth or sheet was
added. The finest coverlids were from Miletus, Carthage, and Corinth.
These varied in the softness of their woollen texture and the delicate
disposition of the colours. Later Greek beds had girths of leather or
string; a mattress; and a pillow.

The Roman bed had the side by which it was entered open, the other was
protected by a shelf. The mattresses were stuffed with herbs, in later
times with wool or feathers. Precious counterpanes embroidered with
gold were occasionally used. Canopies or frames for curtains, in one
form or another, have always been necessary adjuncts to beds. Testers
were placed on cradles, with gauze curtains to keep off flies. Beds
on wheels were in use for the sick in classical and mediæval times: as
also a low and portable bed, _grabatum_, with mats for bedding. This
is the word used in St. John's gospel, translated "take up thy bed and


Besides beds, couches, and stools, used in antiquity, as in our own
times, we find amongst the ancients the habit, unknown since,
of reclining on the left elbow at meals. The Romans called the
conventional arrangement the _triclinium_. The accompanying woodcut
represents the plan of a _triclinium_, the guest reclining on the left
elbow and the faces of each directed from 1 to 3, 4 to 6, and so on.
These numbers and positions indicated a sort of superiority, or a
highest, middle, and lowest to every table. A passage from Horace,
often quoted, enumerates the guests in this order. Fundanius, who was
at the top, giving an account of a dinner to his friends, says: "I sat
at the top, Viscus Thurinus next to me; Varius, if my memory serves
me, below him; Vibidius along with Servilius Balatro, whom Mæcenas
brought as humble companions. Nomentanus was above, and Porcius below
the host himself."

The beds of the early middle ages in England had testers with
curtains, often of valuable material. These slid on rings on an iron
rod. Sometimes the rod, with a frame to sustain it, was on one or on
three sides of the bed, and the tester wanting. Sometimes the beds
were slung on uprights, as cots are at sea. No great expense was
incurred in the framework till the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The splendour of state beds, or those of great people, consisted
in the curtains, which were occasionally taken down, and hung up in
churches on festivals. In the illuminations of manuscripts and in
pictures representing scenes in which there is a bed, we find the
tester strained by cords to the sides of the room or to the ceiling,
as in the accompanying woodcut. The curtains ran round this frame,
as in our modern four-posters; but we see them hoisted out of the way
during the daytime, not round a post, only raised beyond reach.


The finest examples of bedsteads that can be called mediæval are
French, and only met with in fragments, or more or less complete. This
is unfortunately the case also as regards early English bedsteads. We
may refer the reader to the "Mobilier Français" of Viollet le Duc, for
an idea of the sumptuous carved oak bedstead of the great palaces and
hotels of France. It was a frame panelled down to the ground, often
containing chests, drawers, presses, or other safe places under the
sleeper. The back resembled more or less the reredos of an altar, or
the great panelled presses that filled the sides of sacristies. Four
posts supported the canopy. A bedstead of the fifteenth century was
long preserved at Leicester, and said to have been slept on by Richard
the third. The under part of it formed his military chest, and the
discovery of the treasure a century afterwards occasioned a barbarous
murder. None of the coin found was of a later mint than his reign. It
is also said by Pennant that a stump bedstead still in Berkeley castle
is the same on which the murder of Edward the second was committed.
Fine examples of Tudor bedsteads are preserved there. In the town of
Ware in Hertfordshire is, and has long been, an inn under the sign of
the Saracen's head, "In this," says Clutterbuck, "there is a bed of
enormous proportions, twelve feet square. The head is panelled in the
Elizabethan style of arched panels, and a date is painted on it--1460.
[This, however, is not authentic.] It is of carved oak. The top is
covered by a panelled tester, supported on baluster columns at the
feet. The bases of these rest on a cluster of four arches or supports
to each column." Nothing is known of the original history of the
bedstead. Shakespeare alludes to it in Twelfth Night.


To the Tudor and Jacobean period of heavy oak furniture succeeded the
custom of supplying the place of oak-panelled testers and headboards
with rich hangings either of tapestry, cut Genoa, or Venice velvets
and other costly materials, with ostrich feathers or other ornaments
on the angles. The royal beds at Hampton court admirably illustrate
this stately fashion, as in the accompanying woodcut. More modern
changes it is unnecessary to trace.



Couches for reclining or sitting upon were, in the middle ages, rather
benches with cushions on them. The king conversing with a lady in her
chamber is from a manuscript of about 1390 (the "Romance of Meliadus")
in the British museum. In the seventeenth century we find the same
ornaments that were used in chair backs extended to large frames so
as to form them into couches, and the same plaited cane panels. In the
last century, sofas were sometimes made in the form of several chair
backs, with arms at each end, the backs being pierced work or framing
made of bars in fancy shapes. This work was in mahogany or satin wood,
or was painted after the fashion of vernis-martin work. In all cases
such pieces were made to accord with suites of chairs, tables, &c.

Cradles have been made in many shapes. The most approved in antiquity
was that of a boat, [Greek: skaphos], or a shield; in either case they
could be rocked. In the fourteenth century the men of Ghent destroyed
the house of the earl of Flanders, according to Froissart, and all his
furniture including the cradle in which he was nursed, which was of
silver. The cradle of Henry the fifth is still preserved. It is in the
form of a chest, much like the cradle in the Kensington museum, n^{o.}
1769; and swings on posts, one at each end, standing on cross-bars to
keep them steady: but there is no higher portion, as in the example in
the museum, to support a tester. A hundred years later the shape seems
to have become heavier.



In the ancient Egyptian paintings at Thebes, and elsewhere, chairs are
minutely represented like the throne or arm chair of the Greeks, each
containing one person. Occasionally they used stools and low seats
raised a little above the ground. Some sat cross-legged on the ground,
though this is more rare, or kneeling on one knee. The men and women
generally were apart, but in the same room, while conversing they sat,
and did not recline. Wilkinson gives a full description of the old
Egyptian chairs and stools.

The classical curule chairs were made of ivory; sometimes of solid and
entire elephants' teeth, which seems to have been the typical idea of
the ivory chair; sometimes the ivory was veneered on a wooden base.
The foot or point of the tusk was carved into a head or beak. It is
from this curved chair of state that the later chairs were derived,
of which the form remained popular in Italy through the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries. The mediæval name was _faldistorium_, rendered
"faldstool," a stool or seat to support the arms when kneeling, or to
act as a chair when sitting.


The earliest type of the architectural thrones or chairs of the middle
ages is the ancient chair of St. Peter, at Rome, of which a woodcut
has been given in p. 35. A full description and plates of it will be
found in the "Vetusta monumenta" of the Society of antiquaries for
1870. Another famous chair, that of St. Mark, is preserved at Venice,
in the treasury of St. Mark's. Anciently this chair, like that of
St. Peter in Rome, was covered with plates of ivory, carved panels
probably fitted into frame pieces of wood as a covering to the stone.
As it is now seen, however, the work is of oriental marble. It is a
rudely shaped arm chair, with high back sloping upwards in the form of
a pediment, truncated and surmounted by a stone, cut into an imperfect
circle or oval, and having an arm or volute like the reversed
angle-volute of a column projecting from the lower part of each side.
The chair of St. Maximian at Ravenna dates from the sixth century;
this is described in Mr. Maskell's "Ivories." A magnificent fourteenth
century architectural chair of silver is preserved at Barcelona. The
supports represent window tracery. One large arch supplies the front
support, being cusped, and these cusps are again subdivided. The two
sides form each a pair of windows of two lights or divisions, with a
circle above, the whole cusped and having trefoil leaves on the cusps.
The back is open tracery work, representing three narrow windows,
with two lights or openings each. They finish in three lofty gables,
crocketed outside and divided into tracery within.


Chairs in England during the mediæval period were sometimes made of
turned wood. Sometimes they were cleverly arranged to fold up, as in
our own days: the engraving (p. 122) is from a beautiful manuscript
of the fifteenth century. The chair known as that of Glastonbury is a
square board on two pairs of cross-trestles, with a square board for
a back, held to the seat by sloping arm pieces, shaped out to receive
the arms of a sitter. On the edges of the seat and back tenons
protrude, long enough to pass through mortices in the leg and arm
pieces, which are pegged to keep them firm. Like the sixteenth century
curule chairs these can easily be taken to pieces for travelling.
During the reigns of Elizabeth and James, high-backed chairs, richly
cut and pierced, with wooden, afterwards with cane, seats were used
and remained in use simplified and lightened during more than a
century. The woodcut (p. 123) represents the fashion of chair common
in Italy about the year 1620: and from thence introduced into England.

The use of marquetry was not confined to tables and cabinets. Rich
chairs were made in this material (rarely in boule) during the
eighteenth century in France, Italy, and Holland, from whence they
came to this country. Light and very elegant yellow satin-wood
marquetry chairs were also then in fashion. The use of mahogany for
chairs, often delicately carved and admirably constructed, was general
during the last century in England. The French carved chairs of the
time of Louis the sixteenth covered with silk all but the legs and
framework, and painted white or gilt, were made to accord with the
sofas and carved woodwork of the rooms. This example was followed in
England, with certain national differences.


The ancient Egyptian tables were round, square, or oblong; the former
were generally used during their repasts, and consisted of a circular
flat summit, supported, like the _monopodium_ of the Romans, on a
single shaft or leg in the centre or by the figure of a man intended
to represent a captive. Large tables had usually three or four legs,
but some were made with solid sides; and though generally of wood
many were of metal or stone; and they varied in size according to
the different purposes for which they were intended. Often they were
three-legged, the legs in a concave shape.

An antique marble table of Græco-Roman work is preserved at Naples,
supported by a centaur in full relief at one end, and a sea monster,
Scylla it is supposed, involving a shipwrecked mariner in the folds of
her tail, with indications of waves, &c., round her body. Other Roman
tables of larger dimensions had three, four, or five supports of
sphinxes, lions, and the like. We give representations of three kinds
of tables from paintings on vases; and another, on three marble legs,
found at Pompeii.



In the middle ages, as has been before said, tables were generally
folding boards laid on trestles and moveable. The general disposition
of the dining table was taken from those of abbeys and convents, and
may be seen continued in some of our own colleges to this day. The
principal table was on a raised platform or floor at the upper end of
the hall, and thence called the "High" table. The guests sat on one
side only, as in the traditional representations of the Last Supper,
and the place of honour was the centre, the opposite side being left
for the service. The principal person sat under a canopy or cloth
of estate, either made for the occasion, or under a panelled canopy
curving outward and permanent. Occasionally mediæval tables in England
were of stone or marble. Of the former material a table is preserved
belonging to the strangers' hall at Winchester; and a wooden one in
the chapter-house at Salisbury. The tops of some old English tables
are made with two thicknesses, the lower pulling out on either side
to rest on supports drawn from the bed. A table of this description is
kept at Hill hall, Essex; and the woodcut represents a folding table
of the time of Elizabeth, long preserved at Flaxton Hall, in Suffolk.
During the last century mahogany tables with delicate pierced
galleries round the edge, and similar work to ornament the bed or
frame, were made by Chippendale and his contemporaries. Many of them
are light and graceful pieces of construction. Others were massively
made with goat-footed legs that bulge well beyond the lines of
the table top, which in these cases is often a slab of marble. The
workmanship is admirable. Mahogany had then supplanted the use of oak
for large tables.


_Chests, Cabinets, and Sideboards._

The wardrobe, both in the Roman house and the mediæval castle, was a
small room suitably fitted up and provided with receptacles. Chests,
coffers, and caskets were also in use, and implied moveability. In
later days the renaissance chests were either mounted on stands or
gave place to mixed structures; and cabinets of various forms that
could be kept permanently in the hall or chamber became the fashion.
They were large, important objects, were never moved or carried
abroad, descended from father to son, and were the monumental objects,
as the panelled superstructure of the fireplace was, of halls and
reception rooms. These pieces have various forms. In dining halls or
rooms occasionally so used, they were cupboards, dressers, or places
with a small receptacle to hold food, and a flat top with perhaps a
step or shelf above it to carry plate, candlesticks, &c. When placed
in receiving rooms or to hold dresses they were cabinets or wardrobes;
for the conveniences of writing they are bureaux, sécrétaires, or


We have early notices of the use of cypress chests, perhaps cabinets
as some of them are fitted with drawers, in this country. John of
Gaunt in his will, 1397, specifies "a little box of cypress wood;"
probably something like the chest engraved from a manuscript of that
date: out of which the servant is taking a robe evidently richly
embroidered with armorial bearings. In the memoirs of the antiquities
of Great Britain, relating to the reformation, we find an account of
church plate, money, gold and silver images, &c., delivered to Henry
the eighth: "Paid William Grene, the king's _coffer-maker_, for making
of a coffer covered with fustyan of Naples, and being full of drawers
and boxes lined with red and grene sarcynet to put in stones of
divers sorts, vi. _li._ xviij. _s._ ij. _d._," by which we may gather
something of its costly construction, "and to Cornelys the locke
smythe for making all the iron worke, that is to say, the locke,
gymours, handels, ryngs to every drawer box, the price xxxvi. _s._ iv.

The marquetry invented or brought to perfection by Boule was displayed
in greater magnificence on cabinets of various shapes than on any
other pieces of furniture. The same may be said of the marquetry
cabinets in wood executed during the eighteenth century in France by
Riesener and David, with the help of the metal mounts of Gouthière
and his contemporaries. In these fine pieces the interior is generally
simple and the conceits of the previous century are omitted. Japan
cabinets obtained through the Dutch were frequently imported into
England. The hinges and mounts were of silver or gilt metal, richly
chased. The bureau, escritoire, or office desk, called in Germany
Kaunitz after a princely inventor, was a knee-hole table. These tall
bureaux were of general, almost universal, use in England during the
last century.


There are several old sideboards in the Kensington museum, described
under the names of _dressoir_ or _dressoir de salle à manger_ in the
large catalogue. They are small cupboards and would be called cabinets
but for the drawers half-way down, and the rows of the shelves on the
top; and are of the sixteenth century date. According to Willemin, the
old etiquette of France, certainly that of Burgundy, prescribed five
steps or shelves to these dressers for use during meals for queens;
four for duchesses or princesses; three for their children and for
countesses and _grandes dames_; two for other noble ladies. In the
middle ages cupboards or dressers were mere covered boards or shelves
against a wall on which plate was set out, and were made of three or
four or more stages according to the splendour of the occasion. The
cupboard dresser of more modest pretensions was considered as a piece
of dining-room furniture. It was ordinarily covered with a piece of

Robert Frevyll bequeaths, 1521, to his "son John a stone cobard in the
hall." A manuscript inventory of Henry the eighth names, "Item, one
large cuppbord carpet of grene cloth of gold with workes lyned with
bockeram, conteyning in length three yards, iii. q'ters, and three
bredthes." In the herald's account of the feast at Westminster, on the
occasion of the marriage of prince Arthur, we find "There was also a
stage of dyvers greas and hannes (degrees and enhancings of height)
for the cuppbord that the plate shulde stande inn, the which plate for
the moost part was clene (pure) goold, and the residue all gilte and
non silver, and was in length from the closet doore to the chimney."
And when in the next reign Henry entertained Francis at Calais, a
cupboard of seven stages was provided and furnished with gold and
silver gilt plate.

Before concluding these remarks on dining-room furniture something may
be said on painted roundels or wooden platters. Though they have
long ceased to be used for their original purpose, several sets still
complete remain in country houses and collections of different kinds;
and three sets are in the Kensington museum. They are usually twelve
in number: and all seem to be of the date of the late Tudor princes.
They were kept in boxes turned out of a block, and decorated with
painting and gilding. Their size does not differ materially, all the
sets varying from 5-3/8 to 5-5/8 inches. There are, however, smaller
sets to be seen which range from 2-3/4 to 5 inches in diameter. The
top surface is in all instances plain and the under surface painted
with a border of flowers, generally alternating with knots more or
less artistically drawn in vermilion: "posyes" or a couple of verses
are generally added. These platters were used in the sixteenth century
as dessert plates, the plain side being at the top. Leland speaks
of the "confettes" at the end of a dinner, "sugar plate fertes, with
other subtilties with ippocrass" (a sweet wine). Earthenware plates
though not unknown were still very uncommon in England before the
reign of Elizabeth. The dinner was served on plate in royal or very
great houses, on pewter and wooden trenchers in more humble and
unpretending households. Specimens of the latter may still be seen in
our old collegiate establishments. Probably the earliest instance of
the use of earthenware may be found in the time of Edward the first,
when some dishes and plates of that material were bought from a
Spanish ship. Pitchers, jugs and the like had been for centuries
commonly made. "Porselyn" is mentioned in 1587: where we read of
"five dishes of earth painted, such as are brought from Venice" being
presented to the queen on one of her progresses.



The shape and decoration of carriages have changed continually, but
these changes have not always been in the direction of convenience and
handiness for rapid motion. Our space will not allow us to enter here
upon a history of the chariots of ancient nations; Egyptians,
Greeks, or Romans. A detailed account of them will be found in the
introduction to the large catalogue of furniture at South Kensington.
The woodcut represents the Roman "biga," the original of which (in
marble) is in the Vatican; and the "pilentum," or covered carriage,
from the column of Theodosius.


We know but little of the period succeeding the destruction of Rome
and the extinction of classic customs. In the middle ages we find
carts, like those now in use for agricultural purposes in France;
a long frame with spreading rails balanced on one pair of wheels of
large dimensions, drawn by a string of horses. The woodcut of a family
carriage is from the well-known Luttrell psalter, an illuminated
manuscript of the early fourteenth century. Such vehicles seem to have
been clumsy enough and had no springs: nevertheless they were much
ornamented with various decorations. They had roofs as a protection
from the weather, with silk or leather curtains; and the interior was
fitted with cushions. In the "Squire of low degree" the father of the
princess of Hungary promises,

  To-morrow ye shall on hunting fare,
  And ride my daughter in a _chare_,
  It shall be covered with velvet red,
  And cloths of fine gold all about your head,
  With damask white and azure blue,
  Well diapered with lilies new
  Your pomelles (knobs) shall be ended with gold,
  Your chains enamelled many a fold.

The oldest kind of wheel-carriages known in England were called
_whirlecotes_, and one of these belonged to the mother of Richard the
second. Whirlecotes were used also at the marriage of Katherine of
Arragon. Coaches were probably first introduced from Hungary. They
seem to have been square, not differing greatly in outline from the
state coaches of which numerous engraved plates can be seen; and
were considered as too effeminate a conveyance for men in the days of
Elizabeth. The coach of Henry the fourth of France may be studied in
the plate by Van Luyken that represents his murder by Ravaillac, 1610.
It is four-wheeled, square, with a flat awning on four corner pillars
or supports, and curtains. The centre descends into a kind of boot
with leather sides. The accompanying woodcut represents the carriage
of the English ambassador at Rome in 1688: and we add also an
engraving of a state carriage of about fifty years later, still in the
possession of Lord Darnley.





Only very meagre notices are to be found of the artists to whom we owe
the designs of modern furniture. For a hundred and fifty years after
the renaissance, furniture partook so generally, and the woodwork of
rooms so entirely, of the character and followed so continually the
details of architecture that the history of furniture-designers is
that of the architects of the day. These found in the members of
guilds of carvers, carpenters, or image sculptors admirable hands to
carry out the ornamental details of their woodwork, such as
chimney-pieces, &c., and who made sideboards, cabinets, chairs, and
tables to suit the woodwork. We have space here only for the names; in
the large catalogue a brief notice of almost every one of them is also

                                |Country in which |
  Names of Artists.             |  they worked.   |   Date.
                A               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Adam, J. (and R.)             |England          |1728-1792.
                                |                 |
  Agnolo, B. da                 |Italy            |1460-1563.
                                |                 |
  Agnolo, D. da                 |   "             |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Agnola, J. da                 |   "             |  "      "
                                |                 |
  Ambrogio, G.                  |   "             |17th     "
                                |                 |
  Ards, W.                      |Flanders         |15th     "
                                |                 |
  Asinelis, A.                  |Italy            |16th     "
                                |                 |
                B               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Bachelier, --                 |France           |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Baerze, J. de                 |Flanders         |14th     "
                                |                 |
  Baker, --                     |England          |18th     "
                                |                 |
  Barili, A.                    |Italy            |16th     "
                                |                 |
  Barili, G.                    |  "              |  "      "
                                |                 |
  Barili, S.                    |  "              |  "      "
                                |                 |
  Baumgartner, U.               |Germany          |17th century.
                                |                 |
  Beaugreant, G. de             |Flanders         |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Beck, S.                      |Germany          |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Belli, A. A.                  |Italy            |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Belli, G.                     |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Berain, J.                    |France           |1636-1711.
                                |                 |
  Bergamo, D. da                |Italy            |1490-1550.
                                |                 |
  Bergamo, S. da                |  "              |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Bernardo, --                  |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Berruguete, --                |Spain            |1480-1561.
                                |                 |
  Bertolina, B. J.              |Italy            |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Beydert, J.                   |Flanders         |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Blondeel, L.                  |   "             |1495-1560.
                                |                 |
  Bolgié, G                     |Italy            |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Bonzanigo, G. M.              |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Borello, F.                   |  "              |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Borgona, F. de                |Spain            |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Botto, B.                     |Italy            |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Botto, G. B.                  |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Botto, P.                     |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Botto, S. A.                  |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Boulle, A. C.                 |France           |1642-1732.
                                |                 |
  Boulle, P.                    |  "              |17th century.
                                |                 |
  Brescia, R. da                |Italy            |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Bross, -- de                  |France           |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Bruggemann, H.                |Germany          |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Bruhl, A.                     |Flanders         |16th and 17th
                                |                 |  centuries.
                                |                 |
  Brunelleschi, F.              |Italy            |1377-1446.
                                |                 |
  Brustolone, A.                |  "              |1670-1732.
                                |                 |
  Buontalenti, B. T.            |  "              |16th century.
                                |                 |
                C               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Caffieri, Ph.                 |France           |17th and 18th
                                |                 |  centuries.
                                |                 |
  Cano, A.                      |Spain            |17th century.
                                |                 |
  Canova, J. de                 |Italy            |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Canozii, C.                   |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Canozii, G. M.                |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Canozii, L.                   |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Capitsoldi, --                |England          |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Capo di Ferro, Brothers       |Italy            |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Carlone, J.                   |  "              |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Carnicero, A.                 |Spain            |1693-1756.
                                |                 |
  Castelli, Q.                  |Italy            |16th century
                                |                 |
  Cauner, --                    |France           |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Cauvet, G. P.                 |France           |1731-1788
                                |                 |
  Ceracci, G.                   |England          |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Cervelliera, B. del           |Italy            |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Chambers, Sir W.              |England          |1726-1796.
                                |                 |
  Chippendale, T.               |  "              |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Cipriani, G. B.               |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Coit, --                      |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Collet, A.                    |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Copeland, --                  |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Cotte, J. de                  |France           |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Cotte, R. de                  |  "              |1656-1735.
                                |                 |
  Cotton, C.                    |England          |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Cressent, --                  |France           |  "     "
                                |                 |
                D               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Davy, R.                      |England          |1750-1794.
                                |                 |
  Dello Delli                   |Italy            |14th and 15th
                                |                 |  centuries
                                |                 |
  Dolen, -- van                 |Flanders         |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Donatello, --                 |Italy            |1380-1466.
                                |                 |
  Dorsient, A C.; C. Oc.        |Flanders         |16th century
                                |                 |
  Ducerceau, A.                 |France           |1515-1585.
                                |                 |
  Dugar, E.                     |Italy            |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Du Quesnoy, F. H. and J.      |Flanders         |17th    "
                                |                 |
                F               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Faydherbe, L.                 |Flanders         |1627-1694.
                                |                 |
  Filippo, D. di                |Italy            |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Flörein, J.                   |Flanders         |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Flötner, P.                   |Germany          |16th    "
                                |                 |
                G               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Gabler, M.                    |Germany          |17th century.
                                |                 |
  Galletti, G.                  |Italy            |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Garnier, P.                   |France           |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Genser, M.                    |Germany          |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Gervasius                     |England          |
                                |                 |
  Gettich, P.                   |Germany          |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Geuser, M.                    |   "             |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Gheel, F. van                 |Flanders         |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Gibbons, G.                   |England          |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Giovanni, Fra                 |Italy            |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Glosencamp, H.                |Flanders         |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Goujon, J.                    |France           |  "     "
                                |                 |
                H               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Habermann, --                 |France           |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Haeghen,-- van der            |Flanders         |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Hekinger, J.                  |Germany          |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Heinhofer, Ph.                |   "             |16th and 17th
                                |                 |  centuries.
                                |                 |
  Helmont, -- van               |Flanders         |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Heppelwhite, A                |England          |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Hernandez, G.                 |Spain            |1586-1646.
                                |                 |
  Hool, J. B. van               |Flanders         |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Huet, --                      |France           |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Hyman, F.                     |England          |  "     "
                                |                 |
                J               |                 |
                                |                 |
  John of St. Omer              |England          |13th century.
  Johnson, T.                   |   "             |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Juni, J. D.                   |Spain            |16th and 17th
                                |                 |  centuries.
                                |                 |
                K               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Kauffmann, A.                 |England          |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Kiskner, U.                   |Germany          |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Kuenlin, J.                   |   "             |  "     "
                                |                 |
                L               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Ladetto, F.                   |Italy            |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Lalonde, --                   |France           |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Lawreans, --                  |England          |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Lecreux, N. A. J.             |Flanders         |1757-1836.
                                |                 |
  Le Moyne, J.                  |France           |1645-1718.
                                |                 |
  Leopardi, A.                  |Italy            |1450-1525.
                                |                 |
  Le Pautre, J.                 |France           |1617-1682.
                                |                 |
  Le Roux, J. B.                |  "              |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Linnell, J.                   |England          |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Lock, M.                      |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Loir, A.                      |France           |1630-1713.
                                |                 |
  L'Orme, Ph. de.               |  "              |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Lunigia, A. da                |Italy            |  "     "
                                |                 |
                M               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Macé, J.                      |France           |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Maifeis, P. di                |Italy            |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Maggiolino, --                |  "              |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Magister, O.                  |  "              |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Majano, B. da                 |  "              |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Majano, G. da                 |Italy            |1432-1490.
                                |                 |
  Margaritone, --               |  "              |1236-1313.
                                |                 |
  Marot, D.                     |France           |1650-1700?
                                |                 |
  Marot, G.                     |  "              |17th century.
                                |                 |
  Marot, J.                     |  "              |1625-1679.
                                |                 |
  Martin, R.                    |  "              |1706-1765.
                                |                 |
  Martincourt, --               |  "              |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Meissonnier, J. A.            |  "              |1693-1750.
                                |                 |
  Mendeler, G.                  |Germany          |17th century.
                                |                 |
  Meulen, R. van der            |Flanders         |1645-1717.
                                |                 |
  Minore, G.                    |Italy            |15th century.
                                |                 |
  Modena, P. da                 |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Moenart, M.                   |Flanders         |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Montepulciano, G. da          |Italy            |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Moser, L.                     |Germany          |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Müller, D.                    |  "              |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Müller, J.                    |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
                N               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Newrone, G. C.                |Italy            |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Nilson, --                    |France           |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Nys, L. de                    |Flanders         |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Nys, P. de                    |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
                O               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Oost, P. van                  |Flanders         |14th century.
                                |                 |
  Oppenord, --                  |France           |18th    "
                                |                 |
                P               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Pacher, M.                    |Germany          |15th century.
                                |                 |
  Padova, Z. da                 |Italy            |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Panturmo, J. di               |  "              |1492-1556.
                                |                 |
  Pardo, G.                     |Spain            |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Pareta, G. di                 |Italy            |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Passe, C. de                  |France           |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Passe, C. de, the younger     |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Pergolese, --                 |England          |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Perreal, J.                   |France           |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Philippon, A.                 |  "              |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Picau, --                     |  "              |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Picq, J.                      |Flanders         |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Pigalle, --                   |England          |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Piffetti, A. P.               |Italy            |1700-1777.
                                |                 |
  Plumier, P. D.                |Flanders         |1688-1721.
                                |                 |
  Porfirio, B. di               |Italy            |16th century
                                |                 |
                Q               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Quellin, A.                   |Flanders         |1609-1668.
                                |                 |
  Quellin, A., the younger      |  "              |1625-1700.
                                |                 |
  Quellin, E.                   |  "              |17th century.
                                |                 |
                R               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Raephorst, B. van             |Flanders         |15th century,
                                |                 |
  Ramello, F.                   |Italy            |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Ranson, --                    |France           |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Rasch, A.                     |Flanders         |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Riesener, --                  |France           |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Roentgen, D.                  |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Rohan, J. de                  |  "              |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Rohan, J. de                  |  "              |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Rosch, J.                     |Germany          |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Rossi, P. de                  |Italy            |15th and 16th
                                |                 |  centuries.
                                |                 |
  Rovezzano, B. da              |England          |16th century.
                                |                 |
                S               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Salembier, --                 |France           |18th and 19th
                                |                 |  centuries.
                                |                 |
  Sangher, J. de                |Flanders         |17th century.
                                |                 |
  Schelden, P. van der          |  "              |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Schwanhard, H.                |Germany          |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Serlius, S.                   |France           |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Servellino, G. del            |Italy            |15th    "
                                |                 |
  Sheraton, Th.                 |England          |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Smet, R. de                   |Flanders         |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Stoss, V.                     |Germany          |1438-1533.
                                |                 |
  Syrlin, J.                    |  "              |15th century.
                                |                 |
  Syrlin, J., the younger       |  "              |15th and 16th
                                |                 |  centuries.
                                |                 |
                T               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Taillebert, U.                |Flanders         |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Tasso, D.                     |Italy            |15th and 16th
                                |                 |  centuries.
                                |                 |
  Tasso, G.                     |  "              |  "    "
                                |                 |
  Tasso, G. B.                  |  "              |  "    "
                                |                 |
  Tasso, M. D.                  |  "              |15th century.
                                |                 |
  Tatham, C. H.                 |England          |18th    "
                                |                 |
  Taurini, R.                   |Italy            |16th    "
                                |                 |
  Thomire, P. Ph.               |France           |1751-1843.
                                |                 |
  Tolfo, G.                     |Italy            |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Toro, --                      |France           |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Torrigiano, --                |England          |1472-1522.
                                |                 |
  Toto, --                      |  "              |1331-1351.
                                |                 |
  Trevigi, G. da                |  "              |1304-1344.
                                |                 |
                U               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Uccello, P.                   |Italy            |1396-1479.
                                |                 |
  Ugliengo, C.                  |  "              |18th century.
                                |                 |
                V               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Venasca, G. P.                |Italy            |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Verbruggen, P.                |Flanders         |17th    "
                                |                 |
  Verbruggen, P., the younger   |   "             |1660-1724.
                                |                 |
  Verhaegen, Th.                |   "             |18th century.
                                |                 |
  Voyers, --                    |England          |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Vriesse, V. de                |France           |17th    "
                                |                 |
                W               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Walker, H.                    |England          |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Weinkopf, W.                  |Germany          |  "     "
                                |                 |
  Willemsens, L.                |Flanders         |1635-1702.
                                |                 |
  William the Florentine        |England          |13th century.
                                |                 |
  Wilton, J.                    |  "              |18th    "
                                |                 |
                Z               |                 |
                                |                 |
  Zabello, F.                   |Italy            |16th century.
                                |                 |
  Zorn, G.                      |Germany          |17th    "


  Adam, Robert and John, 112

  Alexandria, ancient centre of civilisation, 17

  Anglo-saxon houses, 44

  Antioch, ancient centre of civilisation, 17

  Architectural style in furniture, 94

  Art, classic, ends in third century, 34

  " Byzantine, 35

  " mediæval, its growth, 41

  "  "  its perfection, 47

  " Romanesque, long continuance, 42

  " renaissance, 66

  " classic, revived in eighteenth century, 107

  "  " early nineteenth century, 114

  Atrium, 18

  Attalus introduces tapestry, 17

  Bedrooms, English, fourteenth century, 50

  " French, eighteenth century, 104

  Beds, Byzantine period, 37

  " Norman, 46

  " Egyptian, Greek, &c., 116

  " Mediæval, 118, 119

  " at Hampton court, 120

  Bellows, renaissance, 72

  Bombé furniture, 104, 111

  Boucher, 108

  Boule, 95

  Bureaux in marquetry, 93, 104

  " or knee-hole, 128

  Byzantine period, 35

  " wealth, 38

  " artists welcomed by Charlemagne, 41

  Cabinet, French, sixteenth century, 89

  " Japan, 128

  Cafass, Egyptian wood, 4

  Candelabra, 23, 24

  Candles, Anglo-saxon, &c., 45, 48

  Carriage, Anglo-saxon, 45

  " fourteenth century, 54, 131

  " seventeenth century, 92

  " the Speaker's, 132

  " Lord Darnley's, 132

  Caskets, Byzantine, 37

  Ceilings in Roman houses, 21, 31

  Chair, Egyptian, 4, 121

  " Nineveh, 7

  " Greek, 10, 11, 14

  " Roman, 28, 122

  " of St. Peter, 35

  " Byzantine, 37

  " at Ravenna, 39, 122

  " in Bayeux tapestry, 45

  " coronation, 49

  " of Guidobaldo, 63

  " Italian, fifteenth century, 63

  " folding mediæval, 122

  " of silver, at Barcelona, 123

  " the Glastonbury, 123

  " Italian, seventeenth century, 124

  " marquetry, 124

  Chambers, Sir William, 106

  Chariots, Hebrew, 9

  " Greek, 15

  " Roman, 130

  " Byzantine, 37

  Chest, Greek, 11

  " Roman, 29

  " of king John, 47

  " fourteenth century, 51

  " for copes, 56

  " fifteenth century, 60

  Chest, Italian, 61

  " renaissance, 69, 71

  Chimneypieces, eighteenth century, 106

  Chippendale, 106

  Cipriani, 112

  Cluny hôtel, carriages there, 2

  Colbert, his patronage of art, 94

  Couches, Egyptian, 5

  " Roman, 13

  " mediæval, 120

  Coypel, Antoine, 104

  Cradle, mediæval, 121

  Cubicula, 20

  Cypress chests, 70, 127

  Dagobert's chair, 43

  David, 105

  Delafosse, 104, 108

  Dilettanti society, influence, 115

  Dining-room, Byzantine, 38

  Diptych of Anastasius, 36

  Distaff, 106

  Doorway, English, seventeenth century, 98

  "Droit de prisage," 54

  Ébénistes, fine cabinet makers, 108

  Ebony used seventeenth century, 108

  Egyptian furniture, 5

  Elizabethan style, 85

  Flemish furniture, seventeenth century, 87

  Fragonard, 108

  French style prevalent in eighteenth century, 103, 105

  Furniture, use of a collection, 1

  " Byzantine, still perhaps in mosques and treasuries, 40

  " sixteenth century, architectural, 75

  " eighteenth century, 103

  " bombé, explained, 104

  German artists in England, sixteenth century, 78

  " work, eighteenth century, 111

  Gillow, 113

  Glass windows in Roman houses, 20

  " mosaics, &c., 22

  " Venetian, 99

  Glue used by the Romans, 33

  Gouthière, 105, 110

  Greek manners, simple, 12

  " houses, 14

  Grinling Gibbons, 97

  " best examples of his work, 97

  Halls in Roman villas, 20

  Hebrew furniture, 8

  Heppelwhite, 113

  Hogarth, paintings of chimneypieces, 106

  Holbein, his influence, 78

  Holy-water stoup, 102

  House, Roman, 18

  " Greek, 14

  " how warmed in Rome, 29

  " Anglo-saxon and Norman, 44, 46

  " of timber, fifteenth century, 58

  Iconoclasts, destruction by, 40

  Italian coffer at South Kensington, 61

  " artists, sixteenth century, 68

  "  "  in France and England, 78, 89

  " carved woodwork, sixteenth century, 89

  " distaff, 106

  Japanese lac-work, 106

  Kauffmann (Angelica), 112

  Kaunitz, a kind of bureau, 128

  Kitchen utensils, Roman, 30

  Knife case, sixteenth century, 76

  Lac-work, Chinese and Japanese, 106

  Lalonde, 108

  Lares, 28

  Lebrun, first head of the "Gobelins," 95

  Le Pautre family, 104

  Litters, Roman, 31

  Lock (Matthias), 112

  Locks in Roman houses, 21

  Louvre, Egyptian boxes, 6

  Maggiolino, 111

  Mansard, 104

  Marquetry, Venetian, 62

  " seventeenth century, 92, 93

  " Boule, 95

  Meissonnier, 104, 108

  Metallurgy, British, 42

  Micque, 108

  Mirror, Greek, 13

  " renaissance, 69

  Mirror frames, sixteenth century, 71

  "  "  Venetian, 91, 99

  " made in England, seventeenth century, 99, 100

  Mosaic, Roman, pavements and on walls, 19

  " or pietra dura, 74

  Natoire, 108

  Nero, colossus in his house, 25

  Nineveh furniture, 6

  Nuptiale, 18

  [OE]ci, 20

  Oppenord, 108

  Ostium, 18

  Paintings and pictures in Roman houses, 22

  " in thirteenth century, of rooms, 48, 49

  Panelling for rooms, 49

  " oriental, 57

  " of a chest, 60

  " English, sixteenth century, 79, 80

  " French, sixteenth century, 84

  " English, 86

  Pedestal, 90

  Penates, 18

  Peristylium, 20

  Persian furniture, 8

  " marquetry, 63

  Picture-frames, renaissance, 71

  Pomeranian cabinet at Berlin, 92

  Pompeii, value of discoveries, 16

  Porcelain given to Queen Elizabeth, 130

  Pottery, time of Edward I., 49

  Pudens, ancient house of, 20

  Pugin, 114

  Queverdo, 108

  Religious houses, their woodwork, 63

  "  "  safe generally from spoliation, 67

  Renaissance in Italy, 66

  " materials employed, 69

  " in England, France, &c., 78

  Restout, Jean, 104

  Riesener, 105, 108, 109

  Robert, 108

  Rococo furniture, 103

  Roentgen, 108, 109

  Roman habits, at first simple, 16

  " house, 18

  " couches in dining-rooms, 19, 27

  " locks and hinges, 21

  " tables, 25

  " chairs, 28

  " kitchen utensils, 30

  Roof of Westminster Hall, 55

  Room decorations, French, eighteenth century, 107

  Room of Marie Antoinette's time at South Kensington, 107

  Roundels, 129

  Salembier, 108

  Scamnum, 28

  Sculpture, architectural, &c., fourteenth century, 56

  " renaissance, 69

  Settle or seat, fourteenth century, 51

  Sheraton, Thomas, 113

  Sideboards, 128

  Silks for furniture, eighteenth century, 107

  Stuart style of woodwork and furniture, 85, 96

  Table, Egyptian, 124

  " Nineveh, 8

  " Roman, 25, 125

  "  "  veneered, 27

  "  "  great value, 27

  " Norman, 46

  " furniture of, fourteenth century, 50

  " fourteenth and fifteenth century, 53, 58, 125

  " sixteenth century, 71

  " of Francesco de' Medici, 75

  " French, sixteenth century, 80, 81

  " English, seventeenth century, 102

  " long kept at Flaxton Hall, 126

  Tapestry first brought to Rome, 17

  " in Roman houses, 30

  " in England, fourteenth century, &c., 50, 61

  " Gobelin, 95

  Tarsia, 62, 73, 74

  Temple of Diana, 33

  Theatre of C. Curio, 32

  Tigrinæ tables, 26

  Triclinium, 18, 117

  Tripods, 22

  Tudor cabinet at South Kensington, 78

  " style, 85

  Vase from Hadrian's villa, 25

  Venetian mirror-frame, 91

  Vernis-Martin, 105

  Vestiaria, 20

  Walpole (Horace), opinion on mediæval art, 111

  Wardrobe, old English, 49

  " Roman, 126

  Wars of the Roses, evil consequences, 64

  Wood used in Nineveh, 8

  "  "  Greece, 15

  "  "  Rome, for tables, &c., 26, 32

  "  "  by Riesener, 109

  Woodwork, English, in thirteenth century, 48

  "  "  sixteenth century, 79

  " Germany, in sixteenth century, 83

  " Spanish, in sixteenth century, 84

  " Tudor and Stuart, 86

  Wren, Sir Christopher, 97

  Wyattville, 114



       *       *       *       *       *

  Transcriber's Note

  _ _ represents italic print.

  ^ represents a superscript.

  The Table of Contents was erected by the transcriber, and placed
  in the Public Domain.

  Sundry missing or damaged punctuation has been repaired.

  This book, published in England, dates from 1875. Some older, but
  still correct, spellings may be present. There is also some 16th
  century spelling. Both hyphenated and un-hyphenated versions of
  some words appear in the text.

  'Borgoña' and 'Borgona' both appear in the text, as do 'hôtel' and

  English spelling 'rules' have only existed since the second half of
  the nineteenth century.

  Illustrations which interrupted paragraphs have generally been moved
  to more convenient positions between paragraphs. An exception is the
  illustration of St. Edmund's 'well-furnished bedroom' on Page 51,
  referred to in the first part of the long paragraph beginning on
  Page 50. It made sense to insert the illustration after 'the year
  1400', as the following text began a new topic.

  Page 21: 'valves' corected to 'halves'. 'v' would seem to be a
  misprint for 'h'.

    "The doors were generally in two halves and could be closed with

  Page 48: 'candesticks' corrected to 'candlesticks'.

    "Though the royal table might be lighted with valuable candlesticks
    of metal,..."

  Page 82: [Illustration: SEMPER FESTINA LENTE = Hurry Slowly!]

  Page 121: 'musuem' corrected to 'museum'.

  "... as in the example in the museum,..."

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