Furniture Styles

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Jacobean Oak Chairs

Chairs in the Jacobean era were solidly built of oak wood. Some Jacobean chairs were much like those of the Louis XIII style, having the short solid wood back covered with leather, damask, or tapestry, put on with brass or silver nails and fringe around the edge of the seat.

Jacobean Chair
Jacobean Chair, c.1620.
Gilt and painted wood with red velvet back. Likely belonged to a wealthy owner.

Other chairs of the Jacobean era harked back to medieval times and were heavily turned. In the mid eighteenth century Horace Walpole remarks of Jacobean age turned chairs like the one below: "The seats are triangular, the backs, arms and legs loaded with turnery".

Jacobean Turned Chair
Jacobean Turned Chair, Reproduction.

Farthingale Chairs

An extreme changing in women's dresses length that had begun during the Elizabethan period (see Elizabethan dress) and continued under James I where the farthingales or whalebone hooped petticoats ballooned in size led to the development of Elizabethan or Jacobean "farthingale" chairs. These oak chairs were designed to accommodate and show off womens' farthingales.

Farthingale Chair
Farthingale Chair, with Turkey Work, c.1645

Farthingale chairs, really a kind of back stool, had no arms, had low, solid backs, which were padded, had high-raised seats, and used a lot of upholstery in the seats. Upholstery used on Farthingale chairs was sometimes expensive foreign velvet, fancy embroidery, and often used was "Turkey" work, a form of knotted woollen carpeting on a canvas backing often floral patterned and inspired by imported Persian and Turkish carpets and rugs. Such fineness was in contrast to their rather plain legs and stretchers.

The description "farthingale" is thought to have originated in Victorian times.

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