English tapestry works were opened at Mortlake (1619), a district of London on the south bank of the River Thames, and furnishing accessories of many kinds began to enrich the homes of the well-to-do. This was also the period of the introduction of Oriental objects into England and there occurred amongst the nobility a rage for the collection of Chinese pottery and Oriental tapestries.
Lacquer and veneer were introduced and marquetry and gilding were more freely used. Gros-point and petit-point, with other fabrics, were used for upholstery and tapestry window toppers. Rich silks, in velvets, brocades and damasks, were woven in England, skilled French weavers joining the trade after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685). The Edict of Nantes was issued by Henry IV of France to give the French Calvinist Protestants certain rights in a mainly Catholic nation. Elaborate fringes and trimmings are found on upholstered pieces of this period.
There are certain features, however, that are typical, such as those in which the curvilinear structural forms predominate. These are seen in the "S" and "C" curves used in the legs, aprons, backs and arms of chairs. Both oak and walnut were common after the Restoration, with elm, beech and pine used to some extent--mainly for tables, chairs, bed frames, and other furniture.
Fruit, flowers and game are draped in garlands and swags in over-mantel fireplace surrounds (http://www.ferche.com/), cut in minute detail in lime or boxwood and applied to the wood wall paneling. Furniture took on the lighter continental construction influenced by Flanders as well as France. Many of the early Jacobean forms persisted well into the Restoration period and considerable confusion often results in distinguishing much of the furniture of this time from earlier and later models.
Academic forms of architecture play a much more important part in mantels, doorways, fireplaces, and window treatments. Grinling Gibbons, the wood-carver, discovered by John Evelyn by chance one day and patronized by the King, became an extremely important influence. His characteristic carvings are in high relief, undercut and of naturalistic forms.
Their early work was mainly of the verdure type, though later they produced all types of subjects. For a time they also manufactured rugs, but this was discontinued at the time of the French Revolution. Their recent output has consisted mainly of small tapestries for furniture coverings, woven on low warp looms, in place of the high warp type formerly used. The looms of Aubusson, in central France, are said to be of very ancient origin. They manufacture both rugs and tapestries, and their work is produced commercially for the general market.
Borders are often imitations of gilt wooden picture frames. Subjects arc usually mythological or historical, replacing the religious subjects of earlier times. Under Louis XV pastoral scenes were very popular, being executed from the designs of Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, and other popular court painters. Tapestry was also woven in smaller pieces for use in upholstery. The Beauvais tapestry works were at first a private enterprise, but were later taken over by Louis XIV, and are still a government factory.
It was taken over by the French crown and is still owned by the French government, working exclusively for them. Its output during the period of Louis XIV, as contrasted with the Gothic work, is full of relief, with elaborate shadows and fine gradations of color. The tapestries imitate paintings very closely, and have lost much in the way texture and character, but are still rich and decorative, best used on a wall in a classic picture frame or in front of napoleon fireplaces.
The Italian tapestries of the earlier periods were barely distinguishable from the Flemish. Later they assumed a character of their own and in the Baroque period they took on the same characteristics as other contemporary arts. Under Louis XIV and his successors, French tapestry weaving became even more important than the Flemish. This was largely due to the founding of the Gobelin works, in the outskirts of Paris, on the banks of the Bievre River. The river’s water was whose water was said to have exceptional qualities for dyeing. The Gobelin factory developed into one of the greatest producers of this class of work.
It was these weavers who produced the thousands of tapestries of varying merit that are so often sold in the auction market, known as "Flemish Verdures" and which show human beings of strange or extraordinary shapes. Flemish workers were imported into other countries, including Spain, Germany and Italy, though the industry in these countries never assumed very great importance.
Teniers' subjects were nearly all pastoral or village scenes and may easily be recognized. In addition to these two great artists, countless individual weavers sprang up in all parts of Flanders, who, although gifted with expert technical knowledge and craftsmanship, were utterly lacking in artistry of design of tapestries and picture frame molding (http://www.ferche.com).
The Flemish looms were the most important during the early Renaissance. They produced a great quantity of work, particularly during the seventeenth century under the leadership of Rubens and Terriers. The former produced designs of great vigor, showing relief,of warlike subjects or tempestuous scenes. The tapestries that were made from them were merely woven paintings and although they had immense decorative value, they also helped to crush the art of weaving.
Tapestry weaving was introduced into England under James I. The Mortlake works were the earliest, and employed Flemish workmen and designs. They produced a good deal of excellent work, though much of it was copied from foreign designs, including the Raphael cartoons. The looms at Merton and Windsor are more recent, most of their work having been produced during the nineteenth century.
They are, however, more valuable as pictures than as masterpieces of tapestry window toppers (http://www.ferche.com). Though Raphael and his patrons were Italians, the tapestries were actually woven in Brussels. They are now in the Vatican, after having been stolen. They are perhaps the most famous set in the world, and have been copied many times, copies being found in most of the chief museums of Europe.
There were four types of bed design and they are characterized today by the terms four-poster, low-poster, tent and sleigh, the last named being introduced during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The use of high-boys, low-boys and chests-on-chests closely followed their introduction in England.
Philadelphia seemed to have been the main center of manufacture of this type of furniture, although a local form, known as the "block front," was developed in New England by John Goddard of Newport, Rhode Island. The influence of Chippendale eventually became supreme and mahogany, which some authorities claim pre-dated its use in England, was employed by the cabinet makers for all types of furniture. The first use of veneered and inlayed finishes occurred at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The principal difference between the chairs of this type and those of similar type made in England was in the kinds of wood used and the additional splay given to the legs. The majority of American Windsors were painted and none of the early ones were made in mahogany. The colors used were often vivid greens and reds or blacks, often made to match ornamental pediment.
The banister-back had a split baluster used as a rail, usually with a flat side toward the front. Rocking chairs and upholstered wing arm chairs were first introduced about 1725. The Windsor chair of England was first made in this country about 1735 and received a much greater development here than it did in England. A great number of forms of the Windsor chair were produced, the principal ones being the loop, hoop, fan, comb and low-back. Windsor rockers were not introduced until the Revolutionary period.
During the first quarter of the eighteenth century, we find the introduction of new types of furniture and door toppers (http://www.ferche.com/) as well as a change in the design of the earlier details. Copies were made of the English William and Mary, Queen Anne and pre-Chippendale forms. The rush seat chairs, having either a splat or banister-back, became exceedingly popular and were made in great quantities.
Flemish and Dutch features were often prominent in buildings in Southern New York, Long Island and New Jersey, and we find French elements of interior decoration copied in many localities of the South. Due to the greater wealth of the South, attempts at formal architecture are found much earlier than in the North. Along the river banks of Virginia and the Carolinas, the social life developed to a point that was nearly equal of that of the old country. The diaries of visitors from foreign lands gave witness to the manner in which they were entertained by the leading families of these sections.
The wood paneling was treated in light colored paints. This unbalanced treatment of the different sides of the same room lasted until the beginning of the nineteenth century. The wide plank floors of the early type of room eventually gave place to oak flooring in strip and parquet patterns. Elements besides English were found in other portions of the country.