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Antique Jacobean Furniture

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Jacobean furniture is sturdy, massive in size, notoriously uncomfortable, and made to last.

The term Jacobean furniture is a term used to cover all English style furniture from the reign of King James, to King James II. However, throughout this span of time Jacobean furniture showed markedly different influences. The earliest Jacobean furniture was influenced mainly by Elizabethan (1603 -1688) styled furniture. Commonwealth Style (1649-1660) marks the middle of the Jacobean Period when the furniture was of simpler design and under-decorated. The late Jacobean Period is that of the Carolean period, named for King Charles II. In this period, the furniture was influenced by Flemish Baroque design.

Early English Jacobean furniture was widely copied by the colonial Americans, although the furniture was more primitive because there were fewer skilled furniture makers living in America at the time. In true patriotic form, American colonists renamed their Jacobean reproductions that of "Early American" furniture.


The Features Of True Jacobean Furniture

Jacobean furniture was built very sturdy, massive in size, notoriously uncomfortable, and made to last. The furniture pieces that were produced consisted mainly of chests, cupboards, trestle tables, wainscot chairs, and gate legged circular tables. Brewster and Carver chairs (made with numerous spindles filling their straight frames) were also produced, their names are taken from two distinguished American Colonists of the period.

Types Of Wood Used In The Making Of Jacobean Furniture

The Woods Used In Jacobean Furniture

Oak and pine were the most popular woods of choice for the furniture makers of the Jacobean era. Chairs would often have split spindles, bulbous Spanish carved feet, and rush seats. Chests, large cupboards, and trestle tables were embellished with Flemish scrolls, ornately carved panels, and ornamental twists. These design elements made the massive Jacobean pieces appear very formal and stately.


The Construction Of Jacobean Furniture Simple Yet Very Sturdy

As a rule, Jacobean furniture construction was simple. It was assembled with mortise and tenon joints, held together with pegs. The majority of lines are square and rectangular, most with flat-fronted surfaces. The art of inlay and veneering added a wonderful ornate look, especially in cupboards and cabinets. Many pieces were painted, which further added to the style of the piece.

Upholstering materials used for Jacobean chairs and settees were of fine quality, and very ornate. Materials such as silk, tapestries, crewelwork, linen, velvet, and even leather were used on various types of chairs.

Jacobean period furniture can mainly be found in the auction houses of England. Being built to last, many pieces have not only survived but are still in good condition.

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Charles II Period Chest


History And Jacobean Furniture

Jacobean Period


And now having proceeded with our studies in chronological order, we reach the second period of the Renaissance in England, a period essentially native. The shackles of the Italian masters were slipped off, and with hands-free to express thought actually the decorative artists produced something peculiarly their own. As was the custom, the style was not named for its originators, but for the house that occupied the throne during its growth. So we call this decorative period Stuart or Jacobean.

Jacobean Or Restoration Furniture

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Influences at work - Characteristics of designs - Furniture of the Restoration-Distinctive types sprang up. The furniture that which was made soon after the Restoration, and the style that continued to be followed with more or less change and development during the reigns of Charles H. and James II. in fact until Dutch influence made itself felt and an entirely new phase came about in the history of the furniture trade.

The Early Jacobean Period -1600-1620

THERE was a very close affinity between the Elizabethan and early Jacobean periods, and the two really form one continuous style in which the profusion and over-elaboration of the former period became modified during the first twenty years of the 17th century.

The general system of house planning was very similar to that in the previous reign, although an attempt to produce a more ordered arrangement of rooms was apparent. The true spirit of the Renaissance, however, was not yet properly understood, and the general misapplication of the decorative details continued.

The Later Jacobean Period -1620-1660

The first architect in England to appreciate the true significance of classic design was Inigo Jones, whose first important work was the rebuilding of Whitehall Palace in 1619. His work, although owing its origin to the same source as that of the contemporary craftsmen in England, was of a definitely different character from theirs. He eliminated all that remained of the Gothic tradition and designed with a thorough knowledge of the correct principles of the Palladian style. Although his productions were thus considerably advanced, his influence did not become general for many years; perhaps, because of it. The somewhat vague and inconsistent work of the Elizabethan and early Jacobean periods was still continued contemporaneously.

The Inigo Jones Jacobean Period -1620-1660

The mansions built from 1620 to the end of the Commonwealth were of two distinct types-those still designed in the early Renaissance style of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, and those that sprang from the genius of Inigo Jones or his followers. It is somewhat difficult at the outset to realize that such buildings as Hatfield House and Whitehall Palace were built within ten years of each other, of such a different conception was the work of Jones to that of any other contemporary building. From the beginning, he broke right away from the jumbled and loose ideas that characterized the work being produced when he commenced his task of raising English architecture from the decline into which it was falling during the reign of James I.

ENGLISH. CIRCA 1610 - The Later Jacobean Period


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Guestbook Comments

Bohemian from Pennsylvania USA on February 25, 2018:

Beautiful photos! finding the antique pieces in good condition is always a struggle.

JeffGilbert on March 12, 2013:

Very well researched and educational. Great lens!!

KarenCookieJar on November 15, 2011:

I love old furniture.

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