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American Georgian: 1700s–1780s

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During the 18th century, the traditional vernacular buildings, interiors, and furnishings with strong regional differences of the 17th century yield to a learned, tasteful, refined image based on classicism—the American Georgian style. Similar across the English American colonies, the style reflects the tastes, culture, and increasing prosperity of colonists along the eastern Atlantic coast from Canada to South Carolina who maintain strong connections to their English heritage and tradition. They copy and adapt to their needs English precedents in education, art, and architecture.


Design influences in America come from the English nobility, whose elaborate houses show their cultured tastes refined by the French court of Louis XV, trade with the Orient, and travel to Europe. Rococo, Chinoiserie, and Palladian designs contribute to an image based on reason and refinement. With prosperity and more settled times, colonists follow the English gentry in seeking gentility, culture, manners, and civility. Formal, classical houses and furnishings support this polite society and its activities. Knowledge about the appropriate 18th-century design language comes through immigrant artisans and architects, English pattern books, and imported furniture and materials.


Classical motifs defining architecture include pilasters, pediments, dentil moldings, balustrades, round arches with keystones, and quoins. Common motifs in interiors include the ear, shell, acanthus leaf, rosette, and pineapple or pinecone, as well as renditions of naturalistic flowers. Furniture motifs may be classical (columns and moldings), Rococo (shells and flowers), or Chinese (fretwork and bamboo).



Written by callawayinteriordesign

June 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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