Long, long ago, there lived three queens – Mary, Anne and Victoria – and each influenced the furniture designs of their day. Today, we still get to appreciate antique items that pay homage to their signature styles. Previously, we delved into the nuanced antique furniture styles of three iconic French kings, and so it is only fitting to curtsey and honour the feminine influence of three English queens.
Antique furniture designs that reflect the reigns of Mary, Anne and Victoria developed in a timeline that was framed within a unique political and socio-economic context and this was interpreted by craftsmen over the centuries.
Introducing Queen Mary
We cannot talk about Mary without referencing her husband, the Dutch prince, William of Orange, who overthrew the King of England and ruled the land with Mary, the King’s daughter. In the world of antiques, they are fondly remembered for the furniture pieces they introduced. (Antique items from this period are also referred to as early Baroque).
To date, Jacobean furniture had been dark and heavy with a block design. But William and Mary (W&M) commissioned pieces that were comfortable and versatile. Thanks to the Baroque, Flemish and Dutch building traditions, W&M furniture, although still dark, was thin and lightweight with highly decorative and elegant characteristics. Mostly made from maple and walnut, lacquer and other paint finishes were used to bring out the finished look.
Butterfly tables became popular during the W&M era. Today, W&M embellished antique pieces (1690 – 1725), with their softer curves, elegant spiral designs, embellishments, turned legs, and high backed chairs are rare and highly valued by antique furniture collectors.
Introducing Queen Anne
During the reign of Queen Anne, there was an increase in social interaction and this prompted furniture designs that were elegant, versatile and multifunctional with minimal ornamentation and embellishments. There was also a definite influence from Asian culture and design. (Antique items from this period are also referred to as late Baroque).
Lighter woods such as maple, walnut and cherry were used and the Queen Anne chair was the first seat designed with a cushion for comfort. It had vase-shaped back splat and S-curved cabriole legs with padded, slipper or Spanish feet. Simple shell or fan motifs were carved into the wood and there was a focus on negative space.
Introducing Queen Victoria
Antique furniture from Queen Victoria’s reign was influenced by Gothic, Rococo and Louis XV furniture styles and became more ornate with plush, heavy fabrics. As the Victorian era overlapped with the Industrial Revolution, it was the first style of furniture to be mass-produced, changing furniture making forever. The Chesterfield style couch also made a comeback during the Victorian era.
Chairs and sofas were manufactured with low arms or no arms to accommodate the ladies’ voluminous skirts and gilding was added as a decorative feature. Antique furniture pieces from this era (1840 – 1910) include oak, walnut, mahogany and rosewood. A key feature of Victorian design in complementing the furniture was the use of tapestries and wallpaper with intricate patterns and bold jewel-tone colours.
If you are looking to add Victorian antique pieces to your home, less is probably more to avoid your scheme becoming too overdone. An accent piece will make a bold statement when paired with a modern interior. (Take note of our tips when mixing and matching contemporary and antique furniture).
A royal tour at the Crown Collection
If you are looking for a style that is fit for a queen, then a visit to the Crown Collection (aptly named) is an experience that cannot be matched. With vintage and antique furniture pieces and objets d’art, this is any collector’s dream space to wander and browse – online or in-store.
The Crown Collection is not your regular antique store but rather a curated collection of over 5000 carefully hand-picked pieces specifically chosen for their decorative appeal. You will be captivated by the classic and eclectic range of French, vintage, and contemporary furniture and accessories that are available.