Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary .................... Jacobean / Jacobean Revival Architecture

Jacobean / Jacobean Revival Furniture
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1600-1690 / Early 20th century

Jacobean style 1600-1690

Architecture and furniture during the reign of James I (illustration at right) in Britain (1603-25) and his son, Charles I (1625-1649).

Jacobean 1603-1660

Oak was still the timber used during the reigns of James I and Charles I. The furniture retained many Elizabethan characteristics but the ornament gradually became less prominent.

The ornamentation became smaller, lighter with flatter carving, and carpets were now being introduced.

The changing of women's fashion, in particular their dresses, led to the development of chairs without arms, and upholstery became popular.

Chests disappeared and were replaced with chests of drawers, which often had applied moldings mitered around the drawer front. This was to cover the dovetail joints which were being used for the first time to construct the drawers. Previously drawers were always hidden behind doors. The gate leg table became more popular. Knobs and drawer pulls were often carved. Farthingale Chair was developed because ladies wore farthingale hooped skirts, a chair was required for the women to be able to sit down. Bulbous became oval and left plain before disappearing altogether. Bible box has legs added to become a writing desk.

Many wealthy left England when the civil war broke out in 1642. The building of great houses halted and many of the household staff left for the battlefield.

Until 1660 and the restoration of the monarchy, furniture had been made under the Puritan rule and lacked inspiration and reflected increased simplicity. Plain bobbin turning became popular and upholstery reverted to plain leather that was usually held by heavy brass studs.

-- Principal source: English Period Furniture

Illustration: "King James I," by Paulus van Somer. On the Web Gallery of Art where a copy can be sent as a postcard.

Some historians extend the period to the Commonwealth (1649-1660) and even the Restoration period, including Charles II (1660-1685) and James II (1685-1688).

Some historians refer to the style simply as "17th century."

At the end of the 16th century, northern Europe was just emerging from the Middle Ages. The importation of Flemish pattern books and the immigration of Flemish-Huguenot craftsmen began to bring the influence of Italian Renaissance design to England.

James I
James I succeeded Elizabeth I who was unmarried and produced no heirs. He was king of Scotland, reigning as James VI when asked to assume the throne in England.

The King James Bible was translated during his reign and bears his name. In America, Jamestown settlement on the James River are both named after him.

Jacobean style
The Latin name for James is Jacobus. The English style in vogue beginning with James I's reign is referred to as "Jacobean," as opposed to "Jamesian."

Jacobean style is English Early Renaissance architecture and decoration. It formed a transition between the Elizabethan (Tudor) and the pure Renaissance style later introduced by Inigo Jones.

Jacobean style furniture
The period represents the growth of foreign influence and the passing of the oak styles.

Under James I and Charles I, the Renaissance continued to submerge the Tudor Gothic styles. The straightforward structure and simple outlines persist, but furniture grows smaller, lighter, less ornamented, , with ornament changing from Early Renaissance types to Baroque.

Furniture features:

Types of furniture:

In America, Jacobean style furniture is synonymous with
Pilgrim style because the early English settlements in America took place during the Jacobean era. For example, in America, the Jamestown settlement on the James River are both named after James I who gave royal approval to the emigration.

"... the first furniture that was brought over to this country, and the first furniture that was made in this country, was in the style of this period.... Very little American furniture of the earlier part of the Jacobean period is still surviving; but later pieces, from about 1670, are more numerous. The amateur collector, however, may never see any examples of either the earlier or the later dates except in museums; and he will perhaps never have the opportunity of buying a genuine piece." - Edgar G. Miller, Jr., American Antique Furniture, 1937, Vol. 1, p. 37.

Chair styles:

"Three-legged, wainscot, Carver and Brewster chairs: Without attempting to give the exact dates of the chairs which as a group may properly be termed the 'earliest' American chairs, or to arrange them in exact chronological order, it may be said that about the year 1650 there were four kinds of chairs in use in the American colonies. Some of these chairs were imported from England and others were made here, following the English patterns. These chairs are very rare and seldom seen outside of museums." - Edgar G. Miller, Jr., American Antique Furniture, 1937, Vol. 1, p. 117.


Jacobean Revival in America - Early 20th century

Usually, Jacobean Revival furniture is known as Jacobean Revival, Pilgrim Revival, or Colonial Revival.

One Buffalo company well known for its reproduction furniture was the Kittinger Furniture Company.

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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