Furniture Styles

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Italian Antique Chairs

Antique chairs of the 15th and 16th centuries in Italy were, naturally, an important item in the Renaissance household, and during the sixteenth century they became fairly abundant. Those that have come down to us are chiefly of the high backed and the curule forms.

High back Italian chairs were huge and stately, richly carved and handsome, with perpendicular backs, flat, square seats, and arms. They were unlikely to have been comfortable. Such antique chairs were made of oak, walnut, and other woods, without upholstery, though cushions of leather, silk, and velvet were used with them.

The curule chair, or faldstool (faldisterium), sometimes called the Savonarola chair, was smaller and more comfortable. Curule chairs were designed based on a Roman model, in the form of a curved X, and were frequently constructed as a folding chair. Curule chairs became especially popular in Florence and Venice during the sixteenth century, where they were often made of Italian walnut, carved and sometimes gilded, and frequently furnished with a back and seat of stretched velvet or leather, or with a wooden seat upon which a cushion was placed.

Toward the end of the 16th century, chairs were occasionally upholstered in silk, tapestry, brocade, or leather, and there was a stiff, rather ugly, all-wood chair called sgabello. Carved stools and settees were also common in the homes of the Renaissance period.

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