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English Textiles, furniture and decorative arts

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Many types of imported and domestic fabrics and leathers adorn walls; hang at windows or doors; drape beds; and cover tables, cupboards, chairs, stools, and cushions. Types include wool and silk velvets; wool, silk, or blended damasks; satins; cut and uncut velvets from Genoa, Italy; plushes; gold or silver cloth; domestic and imported tapestries; and painted or resist-dyed cottons.

Domestic linens, woolens, and imported silks are most common early in the period; cottons are rare until imported from India beginning in the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean periods. 

Colors include blue, crimson, russet, purple, green, yellow, pink, and black. Gold or silver fringe, lace, and tassels increase the sense of richness and luxury.

Wealthy homes often have chairs, stools, settees, and footstools completely covered with fabric and richly embellished (<a Cushions provide additional comfort for chairs and stools. Large cushions may be used for sitting on the floor. Silk or wool damask or velvet cushions are trimmed with gold or silver lace, embroidery, braid, cord, and tassels. Table covers, which vary in length, usually are embroidered, trimmed, or otherwise embellished. In the mid-16th century, Turkey work or Norwich work, a textile that imitates Oriental rugs, becomes a common upholstery fabric. In the early 17th century, some bed hangings are made of crewel and are embroidered by the ladies of the house or by professional embroiderers. Typical patterns feature trees, flowers, and foliage rising from mounds combined with animals. Palampores, coverlets with similar painted and resist-dyed designs imported from India, occasionally are used for coverlets on beds or as hangings.Image

Furniture: The wainscot chair, an important chair type, has a paneled back, turned legs, and stretchers. The back decoration varies to include carved motifs such as the lozenge, Tudor rose, arcaded panel, acanthus, and strapwork. Usually made of oak with open arms, the chair is often placed against a paneled wainscot wall. The more visible front legs are more ornate than the back legs. Cushions are often added for comfort.


Materials. Most furniture is of oak. A few Jacobean pieces are of walnut.

Seating. Seating includes chairs, settees, daybeds, stools, benches, and settles. Legs may be turned, chamfered, or fluted. They usually terminate in bun feet. Stretchers are plain and close to the floor.

 There were three main types of chairs are turned (turneyed or thrown, an old term for turning), X-form folding chairs, and wainscot chairs. The farthingale chair or back stool appears at the end of the 16th century.


 Storage. Case pieces include chests for storage, cupboards for display in the hall or great chamber, and chests of drawers (introduced from the Continent late in the 16th century). Early chests of drawers are massive in scale, and doors conceal the drawers. The court cupboard consists of open shelves about 48” high. Richly carved, it displays plate in the hall or great chamber. Cupboards vary greatly in design.


Beds. The most common beds are wooden boxes covered and draped with fabric or draped four-posters. Some are massive with heavy turned posts and a tester with architectural moldings. The headboard usually is heavily carved with architectural and naturalistic motifs. Sometimes the two foot-posts are detached from the bed frame to allow draperies to enclose the bed. Because of the textiles, the bed is the most expensive piece of furniture in the home.




Decorative Arts. Tableware is made of wood, silver, horn, or glass. From Italy and the Netherlands comes tin-glazed earthenware. Objects made of silver or gold include saltcellars, sconces, plates, ewers and basins, flagons, drinking vessels, spoons, spice boxes, and snuffers. Many are large and elaborately decorated or encrusted with jewels. Stylistically, silver follows the other arts in slowly adopting Renaissance motifs. Other accessories are portraits, paintings, and armor. As the English begin their domination of the seas, imports include Chinese porcelains, Venetian glass, and metal work from different countries.

Written by callawayinteriordesign

April 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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