Identifying antique chairs is a handy skill for shopping at antique stores and auctions. In these types of situations, it's good to know the style and period of an antique chair to give you an idea of it's age.
We recently posted this diagram to our Facebook page. It shows the period and style of a chair by it's chair back.
Most of the antique chairs you will come across are of either English or American origin. Let's take a look at the characteristics of some of the most popular styles.
The Queen Anne Style dates from the 1720s - 1750. It incorporates graceful curves, broad, delicate features and simple fan and shell carvings. This style was the first to incorporate the cabriole leg and the pad foot is commonly found on Queen Anne pieces. Queen Anne chairs frequently have yoke-shaped top rails and solid vase backs, also called a splat back or fiddle back. Queen Anne pieces are primarily made of walnut, but maple, cherry and mahogany were also used. The Queen Anne style is exemplified by the Hogarth chair.
The Chippendale style is named for London cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale. Chippendale admired the Queen Anne style but realized that "innovative designs kept sales flourishing." The Chippendale style blended French Rococo, Gothic and Asian influences. Back splats became pierced and intricately carved and claw and ball feet prevailed. This period of furniture is from around 1750-1780.
Hepplewhite furniture is named for London designer George Hepplewhite. Hepplewhite furniture dates from around 1780-1910. Compared to Queen Anne and Chippendale, Hepplewhite's style is more graceful and delicate. Hepplewhite legs are straight and either square or tapered. To complement the legs, the chair feet were simple; either spade, tapered or arrow shaped, and the chair backs were oval or shield-shaped. Hepplewhite furniture is characterized with inlaid patterns and veneers, therefore more than one type of wood was often used. Mahogany was popular for the base, with satinwood inlay and veneers.
Sheraton furniture dates around 1790-1820. The style overlaps with Hepplewhite, but is simpler and less ornate. This style of furniture is called Neo-Classical. The legs are straight, but often rounded (as opposed to Hepplewhite). Sheraton's furniture had a Greek classic influence, the legs were fluted to imitate classic columns and chair backs were lyre-shaped. Sheraton favored strong geometric shapes like rectangular, open-work frames. The style is characterized with contrasting veneer inlays.
After Sheraton's Neo-Classical style, England's high-glamour Regency style emerged. Regency is epitomized by black lacquer and gilt. Chair legs were curved out in a saber style shape. The most distinctive Regency chair is the Trafalgar chair.
Want to learn more about identifying antique chairs? We have an amazing collection of antique chairs in store. Come visit us to learn more about them!