Furniture Styles

Furniture > European > English > Jacobean > Carved Furniture

Antique Wood Carved Furniture

The nature of wood carved furniture in the Jacobean period shares much in common with that of the Elizabethan time. However there are certain important motifs used in early antique Jacobean carving, which can be seen by reviewing examples and pictures.

A Carved Oak Bed

Late Tudor Bed
Late Tudor or Elizabethan Bed.

The bed is dated 1593, ten years before James I, but, although, Elizabethan it has certain decorative features, the development of which to advance during the Jacobean period of the seventeenth century. Note especially among these the characteristic round arch harking back to the Norman age, of which two are shown on the bed's head. These arches frame a rough inlay which appears also on the square blocks of the tester. Holly and bog oak were the favourite woods for this inlay on oak, woods stubborn enough to make the labour difficult. The half-circle repeat is used freely as a moulding on the headboard, and this develops in later furniture into an important motif. The general construction of this bed is grand in its proportions, and in all changes of fashion it still stands with unbowed dignity.

A Carved Wood Chest

As pictures on a screen melt one into another, so styles merge. The next picture shows a chest full of Jacobean promise yet retaining Tudor feeling. The fact that it has drawers under the coffer pronounces it as a novelty of the early seventeenth century, and therefore Jacobean.

Oak Chest with Drawers
Oak Chest with Drawers.

It especially well illustrates the pattern for carving that occupied craftsmen through the reign of James I. There is the Norman arch, low, and wide, set on short supports which have now lost their architectural look of a column. The arches at the ends have as ornament the guilloche, that line of circles that sinuously proceeds through all that time. The carving just under the lid shows the characteristic S curve in one of its many varieties, and the line of decoration just above the drawers indicates the development of the half-circle. Thus are shown in this one early piece the principal motifs of the carvers who were coaxing the models of a past Renaissance into an expression that was entirely British.

Carved Oak Cupboard

Early Jacobean Cabinet
Early Jacobean Cabinet.

The small oak cupboard is another transition piece, being in feeling both Tudor and Jacobean. It is carved and put together with wooden pegs. Here the guilloche is enlarged to form a panel ornament, and the acanthus becomes a long fern frond to ornament the uprights. One hardly feels, however, that this piece was ever the accompaniment of elegant living, although much antiquity gives its present distinction.

Gate Legged Table

Gate Legged Table
Gate Legged Table.

Continuing with the low round arch as an ornament in the low-relief carving of James' time, an example of its use is given in the folding gate legged table. The turned legs finished with squares, top and bottom, are characteristic of the first quarter of the century. The arch is here used as an apron to give elegance, and above is a drawer carved with leaves. In construction this table presents three sides to the front, as does the cabinet just considered, and its Italian inspiration is evident. Like all old oak of the time, it is put together with wooden pegs and bears the marvellous patine of time.

Copyright © 2004-12 International Styles
All Rights Reserved