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Neoclassical Period Collection

Neoclassical Furniture (FRANCE AND UNITED KINGDOM, CA. 1750)
Neoclassical Furniture (FRANCE AND UNITED KINGDOM, CA. 1750)

Neoclassical design emerged in Europe in the 1750s, as the Age of Enlightenment reached full flower. Furniture took its cues from the styles of ancient Rome and Athens: symmetrical, ordered, dignified forms with such details as tapered and fluted chair and table legs, backrest finials and scrolled arms. Over a period of some 20 years, first in France and later in Britain, Neoclassical design — also known as Louis XVI, or Louis Seize — would supersede the lithe and curvaceous Rococo or Louis XV style.

The first half of the 18th century had seen a rebirth of interest in classical antiquity. The "Grand Tour" of Europe, codified as a part of the proper education of a patrician gentleman, included an extended visit to Rome. Some ventured further, to sketch the ruins of ancient Greece. These drawings and others — particularly those derived from the surprising and rich archaeological discoveries in the 1730s and ’40s at the sites of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum — caused great excitement among intellectuals and aesthetes alike.

Neoclassical furniture is meant to reflect both grace and power. The overall appearance of Neoclassical chairs, tables and cabinetry is strong and rectilinear. These pieces are, in effect, classical architecture in miniature: chair and table legs are shaped like columns; cabinets are constructed with elements that mirror friezes and pediments.

Yet neoclassicism is enlivened by gilt and silver leaf, marquetry, and carved and applied ornamental motifs based on Greek and Roman sculpture: acanthus leaves, garlands, laurel wreaths, sheaves of arrow, medallions and chair splats are carved in the shapes of lyres and urns. As you can see from the furniture shown on these pages, there is a bit of whimsy in such stately pieces — a touch of lightness that will always keep Neoclassicism fresh.

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Italian Red Grain Painted and Gilt Decorated Tall Case Clock, c1790
Located in valatie, NY
This clock stands tall with original red grained paint and decorative gilt details. The works are early 18th century English with a calendar movement and are signed "Tanpium." The ca...
Category

Late 18th Century Italian Neoclassical Antique Neoclassical Period Collection

Materials

Metal

Rare Louis XVI Period Enamel and Gilt Bronze Clock
Located in Montreal, QC
Rare Louis XVI period enamel and gilt bronze clock on a black marble base.
Category

18th Century and Earlier French Antique Neoclassical Period Collection

Materials

Bronze

Clock Mantle Gilt Bronze Neoclassical Empire French 19th Century France
Located in New York, NY
Clock Mantle Gilt Bronze Neoclassical Empire French 19th Century France. A French mantel clock in gilt bronze. Neoclassical symbols such Cupid playing a lyre. Next to him are his bow...
Category

Late 18th Century French Neoclassical Antique Neoclassical Period Collection

Materials

Ormolu

Clock Mantle Gilt Bronze Neoclassical Empire French 19th Century France
Located in New York, NY
Clock Mantle Gilt Bronze Neoclassical Empire French 19th Century France. A French mantle in gilt bronze decorated with neoclassical symbols such as Roman man dressed in a Toga carryi...
Category

19th Century French Neoclassical Antique Neoclassical Period Collection

Materials

Ormolu

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Italian Neoclassical Giltwood Mirror, circa 1790
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H 7.75 in. W 7.25 in. D 2.25 in.

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