Furniture Styles

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Biedermeier Furniture

From the 1820s to the 1840s in Germany, as well as Austria, the Biedermeier type of furniture design was wildly popular, especially among the middle class.

Biedermeier Style

The Biedermeier style is a take on French Empire furniture, but modified to incorporate local German traditions, particularly old peasant furniture. Biedermeier style is simple and elegant, consisting of clean, smooth lines, and utilising light color wood, sometimes with painted black highlights. Veneered cherry, walnut, ash and birch are the predominant woods used, most of them coming from German farm and orchard lands.

Biedermeier Chair
Biedermeier Chair.

Biedermeier furniture craftsman eschewed most forms of ornament, preferring simplicity. When there is ornament such as carving there is little detail in the work, although by around 1830 more detailed carving became prevalent. The main decorative motifs employed by Biedermeier era craftsmen included simple forms of swans, sphinx, dolphins, lion paws, acanthus, lyres, and garlands.

Biedermeier Furniture
Biedermeier Furniture
1. Bed of Hungarian oak. 2, & 3. Biedermeier chairs from Vienna, 1820-30. 4. Table from the castle of Obernzenn in Unterfranken. 5. Biedermeier sofa. 6. & 7. Sewing tables from Vienna, 1820.

In wider terms, or cultural terms, it has been suggested by many scholars that the Biedermeier style was an insular and conservative one, that it emphasised domestic comfort and security, and attempted to block out the world outside, a world engulfed in conflict in the age of Napoleon.

Biedermeier Sleigh Bed
Biedermeier Sleigh Bed.

Biedermeier Interiors

The Biedermeier style of interiors and home decorating revolves around the use of light colours and a certain simplicity, and perhaps sparseness, in decorations. There is order and balance but it is informal, unstuffy.

Biedermeier Interior
Painted Biedermeier Interior, 1840.

There is little emphasis on draperies and textiles as backdrops with wallpaper schemes often being of intense, deep colors.

Biedermeier Design
Biedermeier Design.
1 & 2. Samples of cotton fabric. After the originals in the Industrial Art Museum in Berlin. 3. Cupboard front Unterammergau, 1820. 4. Sample of material for Biedermeier furniture covering. After the original in the Industrial Art Museum, Berlin.

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