Antique Chests of Drawers - Early Baroque
In the period of the Restoration in the late seventeenth century most people in England still used old lidded chests for the storage of linen and clothes and chests of drawers as we know them were largely unknown.
In Jacobean times early attempts at making chests of drawers resulted in the development of hybrid mule chests and by the middle of the 17th century these had come to be replaced by the sort of antique chests of drawers that are immediately familar to us today.
Mule chests had lids opening to deep top drawers and Restoration era chests of drawers inherited this tendency to considerable drawer depth.
What distinguishes antique chests of the mid seventeenth century from their forefathers was the great amount of decoration used, greater foreign influences in design trends, and more modern construction techniques.
Often very decorative geometrical patterns and architectural, boldly protruding, mouldings were used.
While some chests of drawers still had panelled sides, as the Restoration era progressed, case construction became more prevalent.
A "carcase", or the body of the piece, usually from oak or pine, was put together with dovetail joints and then veneered in walnut.
Oak Chest with mother of pearl.
Once this was done marquetry was often applied to the veneer. Mixing different kinds of wood, of different colors, allowed for exquisite pictures and patterns to be created in the veneer.
In mid 17th century England very decorative marquetry, in a wide variety of woods and derived from Dutch knowhow, was used, with sprays of tulips and carnations being typical motifs. In the later part of the seventeenth century marquetry decoration tended to more arabesque form with endive and seaweed patterns and wood choice became more selective.