Get a glimpse of painted furniture


The most outstanding era of painted furniture occurred in the 1700s.

At that time, the reawakened enjoyment of ecclesiastical construction not only transformed the old basilicas into strengthened churches in the Baroque style, but even smaller churches adopted a similar design. At the conclusion of 1400 and into 1600, the waning Gothic that had beautified churches was steadily replaced.

Baroque style. The Baroque style was symbolized by more construction emulating the churches throughout many regions of Europe.

The new mode was alive with color. The reborn ecclesiastical architecture became the accepted vogue of the laymen who took the churchly style completely under the directive and even decorated their homes’ facades with stucco and bright, religious pictures, which actually were more fitting in churches.

Stone buildings were decorated with this renewed decorative art, however it was not suitable for wooden structures. As to wooden articles, this lively art form was quite suitable when applied to furniture.

Color interest. Country folk were quite interested in color as testified by their bright clothing, the Catholics more so than the Protestants and Reformists.

Switzerland, more so than other European countries, entertained brightly painted furniture, with the northeastern area near Appenzell the most prominent. It was populated by energetic and joyous pastoral folk.

Near this area was the valley of Rhine, home of the master builders of the Baroque style plus expert artisans in stucco. Hard craftsmen and artisans populated Germany and these areas flourished for centuries in the most excellent art crafts.

Transients. Itinerant craftsmen from these areas moved to Switzerland to work at their many craft trades, and in doing so, further knowledge of art forms were taught therein by these wanderers.

As for decorative painting, the ornamentation of furniture in Appenzell and nearby areas did not differ much from the styles in southern Germany. The pictorial decorations were often the same style of patterns, undoubtedly due to their similar Catholic background.

The Catholic preferences were for religious-themed pictures, similar to artful articles revealed in woodcut and copper engravings. These were illustrated in an increasing number in Bible publications.

Varying interests. Art varies with the individuals’ desires and expression. Therefore people shouldn’t base what they like on the set rules of style that “experts” established as a basis of criticism to further a higher strata of art.

As the German journeyman painted in their own home, they also painted as they wandered, providing there weren’t any demands on their finished work. The itinerant Swiss, upon returning to their home, related new ideas or procedures they learned while away.

This is the explanation why similar forms of ornamentation are found in widely separated areas. This isn’t only the case in furniture decoration, but particularly in the embellishment of pottery or similar art crafts.

Carrying over. European emigrants brought many styles, patterns and forms of art with them to America.

It is quite certain that, on occasion, the same artisan decorated several types of objects, including pottery, wood carvings, furniture and even barns.

According to their accepted guild directives, they were permitted to practice their profession in every aspect but not allowed to construct a piece of furniture or model a piece of pottery that were allotted to other guild members.

Ordinarily, the art of the country decoration and lacquer was not very well considered and their products seldom exceeded the results desired by the country folk. Examples of this form of art, therefore, are classed today as folkart or peasant art.

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