............... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary.......Styles of FURNITURE

Biedermeier style
(pron. BEE de MY er)

Biedermeier is an early 19th-century German furniture and decoration style(1815-1848). An unaristocratic, clear and simple style, mainly Empire and classic in line, but rendered "homey" and "bourgeois" with painted details in black and gold to simulate carving.

True Biedermeier is Austro-Hungarian furniture made in the first half of the 19th century, with a specific pedigree associated with the years 1815-1830. Since Biedermeier was such a popular style, it had a strong aesthetic impact on Pan-European taste and somewhat similar styles of furniture generically referred to as "Biedermeier" was made throughout the first and second half of the 19th century, especially in Austria and Northern Italy.

After the defeat of Napoleon followed by the congress of Vienna in 1815 that determined the shape of the empire, Austro-Hungary experienced a period of rapid growth and technological revolution. Under the strong guiding hand of the new Interior Prince Clemens Von Metternich, a new era of economic expansion and affluence was meticulously circumscribed by a climate of political caution and public censure. Vienna 1820 - 1830 was a time of both opulence and restraint; poised in this contradiction, its primary aesthetic expression is evident in the Biedermeier style.

While the genius of the Romantic Movement gripped the hearts and minds of the masses with artists like Beethoven and Goethe, popular culture embraced a vision of an idealized golden age with an almost Olympian reverence for the "great outdoors." In counterpoint, Vienna the cultural capital of the empire, was a dirty, overcrowded, walled city. The result was the emergence of a style in home décor that was an attempt to bring the great outdoors, with its beautiful woods and its open-air temples, into the living room.

The name was derived from "Papa Biedermeier," a comic symbol of homey Comfort, well-being, and middle-class contentment.

The furniture was made largely of fruit woods and mahogany,


A good sampling of classic Biedermeier furniture (1820-1830) can be found in online catalog from Iliad Antik, including four examples of secretaires


Photos and their arrangement © 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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