Victorian antique furniture refers to pieces made during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), and includes both mass produced pieces and those hand crafted in small shops by designers such as Herter Brothers, Allen and Brother, Merklen Brothers, John Henry Belter, Alexander Roux and R.J. Horner.
Although some designers like George Hunzinger put labels or stamps on all their furniture, many did not, so attributing a Victorian piece conclusively can require lots of research. In terms of wood, walnut is generally inferior to rosewood, which was used on higher end pieces.
There are many, and very different, Victorian furniture styles. In fact, famous Victorian designer Charles Eastlake himself hated Rococo, which is mid 1850s Victorian. Here are s...
1) Gothic Revival (circa 1830-1860). Think churches and you have a good feel for this furniture style - design elements such as arches, quatrefoils, trefoils, spires, and crockets.
2) Rococo Revival (c. 1840-1865). High-style furniture of French influence marked by use of naturalistic flora (flowers, shells) and fruit as well as C-scrolls and S-scrolls, and highly sinewy curved lines.. Early pieces may have used mahogany, but common Rococo often used Walnut, while the top-end leveraged Rosewood.
3) Renaissance Revival (c. 1860-1890). Reverses the feminine elegance of Rococo around the time of the Civil War by espousing masculine arches, cartouches, animal and human figures, inlaid panels, burl panels, gilt incising, and ormulu mounts. Subgenres include Egyptian Revival, Modern Gothic, and Neo-Grec.
4) Eastlake and Aesthetic Movement (c. 1880-1900). Moving away from the showy complicated designs of prior eras, this furniture has stylized natural elements (flowers, leaves), rectangular forms and severe lines, shallow incisings and turnings. On finer pieces, marquetry, inlay and veneering can also be found.
Interviews & Articles
How did I get started collecting Victorian Furniture? Antiques is in my genes, my mother's family were longtime antiquers and live… [more]
"Why do writers on antique furniture leave off right where my interest begins," protests a man who has acquired an attractively si… [more]
In the broadside political caricatures which were produced and circulated quite freely in America from the beginning of the Jackso… [more]
About 11 years ago, my wife and I went on some architectural tours. We joined the organization that sponsored the tours, and I vol… [more]
As a teenager, I collected everything from vintage bicycles to Coca-Cola to Victorian stuff. Once I realized some of this stuff co… [more]
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Recent News: Victorian Furniture
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Frick announces several important loans on view from collector Horace Wood ...Art Daily, May 14th
Conversely, disorder and/or incoherence often correspond to a complex theme and a complex set of transformations (as seen in Victorian furniture and twentieth-century atonal music). According to Dr. Brock, “the highest degree of satisfaction typically...Read more
State funds likely for Kelkar museum's project in BavdhanTimes of India, May 9th
Deshmukh was speaking at a function organised in the museum to inaugurate the gallery displaying the Victorian furniture including sofas, chairs, cupboards and half-rounded tables sourced from the city and Goa. The function was attended by Shobita...Read more
Main Street's newest drinkery mixes creative whimsy and serious cocktailing ...Las Vegas CityLife, May 9th
The room's trompe-l'oeil walls and randomly upholstered, vaguely Victorian furniture suit the shabby-chic style of downtown bars, while light-pattern art and mildly creepy/kinda cartoonish paintings pick up the gallery vibe from the surrounding blocks...Read more
Use 'Great Gatsby'-inspired Art Deco accents for home decorazcentral, May 9th
“The difference between Art Deco and Victorian furniture is like a big goblet of whiskey and a very sophisticated martini. It's not subtle.” Joe Weaver, owner of Stuff antiques in central Phoenix, is another Art Deco fan. He says Art Deco didn't get...Read more
Decorating Diary: Half-moon sconces go well with mirrorReading Eagle, May 8th
Does this mean I must use Victorian furniture? A: Your door is merely the first step into welcoming people into your home. Furniture styles can be combined. The biggest difference might be in the colors. For example, if you have a Victorian door, it...Read more
Frys' vast collection 50 years in makingCincinnati.com, May 3rd
Although Cowan's Auctions furniture specialist Diane Wachs said the Frys' dark, heavily-carved Victorian furniture doesn't match many homes these days, “it all works” in their home. “I love that packed space with those grand pieces.” The Frys...Read more
Screen-printed Canvas Chairs Function as Art, Furniturewoodworkingnetwork.com, April 26th
The duo debuted their “Canvas” series as the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan last week, presenting a set of flat, stretched canvases depicted screen-printed images of pieces of Victorian furniture. Leaning against the wall at an acute angle...Read more
Victorian satinwood cabinet displayed at Blenheim Palace fairChristian Davies Antiques (blog), April 25th
The star attraction drawing large numbers of admirers to the stand was a superb cabinet from one of the most important Victorian furniture makers, Wright & Mansfield. The breakfront Victorian cabinet was made of satinwood with gilt applied to receded...Read more