The Epochs

BAROQUE: In reference to furniture style, this comprises the period from 1650 to 1770 where symmetry, grandeur and strict regulations dominated. During the 18th century, the furniture art reached its peak in terms of stylistic refinement and perfect artisanship, and different forms of the Baroque emerged. Many claim that after this epoch, nobody ever created furniture of such perfection and preciousness again. Exceptionally skilled artists invented a new type of furniture, "the commode" or dresser, and created writing desks of unsurpassed beauty.

- Regence: ca. 1715 - 1723, the period between Louis XIV and Louis XV. The stringent interior design under Louis XIV changed into a more casual style.

ROKOKO: ca. 1730 - 1770, the rather jocular and playful style is determined in Germany by the French King Louis XV. Rococo artists used a florid and graceful approach achieving a style that was ornate. Showing curves, asymmetrical designs, and gold, Rococo art had witty and playful themes, unlike the political Baroque. The decoration of Rococo rooms was a complete work of art with ornate and elegant furniture, small sculptures, and ornamental mirrors. The dominant Ornament Rococo was called “Rocaille”. The word Rococo is regarded as a combination of the French rocaille (stone) and coquilles (shell), since these objects were predominantly used as decorative motifs.

- Louis XV: ca. 1723 - 1760, refers to the French characteristics of Rococo under Louis XV.

- Transition: ca. 1760 - 1774, is the transition from graceful Louis XV to the stricter Louis XVI. Forms and structures become straight, losing their asymmetric buoyancy.

CLASSICISM: ca. 1770 - 1820, follows the Baroque and Rococo epochs and actually also includes the Empire (ca. 1800 – 1815) and the beginnings of the Biedermeier. The Classicism was influenced by the simplicity of the ancient Greek and Roman patterns, and again straight lines were used in architecture. Curved lines actually disappeared as early as in 1768, and so did the curved legs of the chairs, tables and cabinets, as well as the curved frame of these pieces of furniture.

BIEDERMEIER: ca. 1805 - 1848. Today, Empire and Biedermeier furniture are among the most popular antiques because these simple, exquisitely crafted, low-key, yet in no way purist pieces of furniture, fit almost perfectly into our modern apartments and houses. They are also an extension of the neoclassical style. The boundaries between the furniture style of the Empire and Biedermeier are not strictly set. They therefore have as straight and tapered features, or saber-shaped chair and table legs as well as straight edges and right angles. Furniture in the early Biedermeier style until 1815 showed very strict and austere designs, often without any decorations or embellishments. During the 1830s, the influence of the neo-baroque shape perception in design became obvious: the edges rounded off, and the backs of the typical Biedermeier sofas were given their characteristic verve.

HISTORICISM: ca. 1830 – 1900. In the context of art history, this epoch called for recourse to earlier styles, and so it is sometimes called "Neo-Rococo". The first phase of historicism known in France under the "citizen king" Louis Philippe, influenced all of Europe. In England, this epoch was called the after the young queen "Victorian", whereas in Germany and Austria, they used the terms "Second Rococo" or "Viennese Baroque". This epoch manifested itself in more animated forms of furniture, in richer ornamentation, including the use of flowers and rococo curlicues.

ART NOUVEAU: ca. 1890 – 1910, a French term meaning “new art”. Whether called Art Nouveau in Paris, Secession in Austria, Jugendstil in Germany, Modern Style in England, or Stile Liberty in Italy: They all wanted to create something new, something special and original. This epoch was inspired by natural structures, such as plants and flowers, everyone tried to recreate organic forms of growth. Architecture and furniture designs showed two-dimensional, decorative, wide-swinging lines, as well as subdued, but sometimes also dazzling, bold colors. This so-called total art style embraced architecture, interior design and the decorative arts including lighting, jewelry, and furniture, featuring elegance with a dash of decadence.