Mahogany marquetry, wood of various varieties, stucco, Breccia Nuvolata marble, parquet, stained glass.
H : 224 cm / 88’’3/16 ; W : 569 cm / 224’’ ; D. : 600 cm / 236’’1/4
End of the 19th century, France
This exceptional Regency style woodwork with its fireplace
was made in France in the late 19th century
. This set is characterized by its remarkable marquetry work
. The dominant use of mahogany, the decor made of large smooth surfaces and the ornamental vocabulary inspired by Antiquity
and Etruscan style
are characteristic of the Regency style
which occured in Britain
from the late 18th century to the 1830s. It ocrresponds to the last period of the Georgian style
The set consists of four walls where are inserted the various elements: a fireplace and its mirror, a vitrine, two doors, a large mirror and two windows. This woodwork has a very fine and elaborate marquetry decoration made of mahogany and wood of various varieties, particularly lemon wood. The particularity lies in the many contrasts between light woods and darker woods. The jambs of the fireplace, consisting of elegant detached ionic columns, support for example a frieze decorated with mahogany marquetry and light wood. At its center are highlighted Griffins, foliage, acanthus leaves and an Antique-inspired vase. These veneer ornaments echo with the dominant taste, characteristic of the period, for smooth surfaces where the decorations are integrated into the whole.
John Nash (1752-1835), Brighton Pavilion, ca. 1820
We find this aspect in the interiors created by one of the leading architects of the period, John Nash (1752-1835), as in this watercolor representing the room of King George IV in the Brighton Pavilion in the 1820’s.
We The fireplace’s interior is made of Breccia Nuvolata marble whose clarity and brightness constrasts with the wood. The many carved friezes, typical of the style, support the straight lines of this fireplace surmonted by a large rectangular mirror. The sculptural friezes imitating Antique Greek and Roman architecture enjoyed a particular succes at the beginning of the 19th century. For example they adorn Regency style buildings and a lot of objects and the cabinetmaker George Smith devoted several pages in his book A collection of Designs for Household Furniture and interior decoration to this ornament. in this watercolor representing the room of King George IV in the Brighton Pavilion in the 1820’s.
Smith, George, Collection of designs for household furniture and interior decoration, 1808.
Another frieze, adorned with small asparagus heads, separates the wood panels with the upper part made of stucco on wood. Stucco is a very popular material for Regency style buildings and interiors. In the second half of the 18th century in Great Britain, were filed several patents concerning stucco. However its use remained discreet until the well-known Regency style architect John Nash (1752-1835) introduced it into its buildings. Stucco quickly became a means of imitation stone and its use spread out thanks to its simplicity and its uniform whiteness which seduced architects and interior designers.
The space made of stucco has a very fine decor with an Antique Greek inspired ornamental vocabulary which, at the turn of the 18th and the 19th centuries, has a surge of interest in Great Britain with for example Lord Byron. Two Antique vases are placed on three-footed athenians with rams' heads. Large moldings representing foliage, rosettes and other curves overhang the whole. An egg-and-dart frieze delimits the walls and the ceiling.
Antiquity then corresponded to a refinement and a certain rigor as much as to the taste for distant lands. Many archaeologists or simple amateurs from privileged classes thus traveled the Greek world and brought patterns and objects. This passion marked above all the first period of the Regency style, which can be delimited from 1790 to 1820, which corresponded to the beginning of the regency of the Kingdom of England by the Prince of Wales (1762-1830) until his accession to the throne. This style was concomitant with the Directoire style in France.
The Egyptian Room and The Vase Room, Household Furniture & Interior Decoration, Thomas Hope, 1807.
Thomas Hope, rich collector, traveler, decorator and writer became one of the references in Regency style interior decoration. Keen on Antiquity, he traveled through ancient Europe, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, from where he brought back a certain taste for classic lines and many objects. We can for example see in the interiors of his London home that he remodels with a series of theme interiors that will gain visibility thanks to his book Household Furniture and Interior Decoration published in 1807.
The geometric shapes, typical of the style because echoing to the straight lines of Antiquity, are also recurrent. The marquetry floor, above all, presents a remarkable geometrical decoration whose colors echo those of the whole. It is decorated at its ends with warm air heating made of brass.
Two doors, on either side, are surmounted by a medallion, as cameos, in the style of Wedgwood. They represent two dancing characters in Antique-inspired clothes on a blue background.
William Hackwood after Henry Webber, 1790-1795, Wedgwood Museum.
This motif is also on the center of the polychrome stained glass
that adorn the windows of the wall adjacent to it. If these stained glass windows take the typical ornamental vocabulary of the style (rosette, foliage, curves, waves, knots, geometric shapes, draperies, bell flowers), they are a trace of one of the other Regency style inspirations, the Neo-Gothic,
born in England in architecture at the middle of the 18th century.
This room thus takes the codes of the English Regency style which developed in England from the 1790s to the 1830s. If Antiquity marked especially the first phase of the style (1790-1820), this inspiration continued during the second period (1820- 1830) which corresponded in England to the reign of George IV. The decor became more ostentatious in comparison with the lightness of the first phase. Dark woods, especially mahogany, were increasingly used for furniture. The style was characterized by large smooth surfaces like our woodwork.
Made at the end of the century in France, this woodwork is part of the revival of styles that animate the arts throughout this century. This piece is very complex while having a pure and refined aesthetic. If the stucco part is characterized by purity and lightness, the woodwork is more opulent and imposing.
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