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- All About Antiques
- Paint for paints' sake
- Paint For Paints' Sake
- By Peter Green
- Toronto - Decoration of furniture in the 19th century
went far beyond the idea of slapping a coat of paint over a blanket
- All stops were pulled out, and figures, animals and birds
joined with fanciful and imitative graining in a kaleidoscopic
riot of color and decoration. This is in sharp contrast to the
blue, yellow or somber rosewood graining which many associate
with painted furniture of the past.
- There's no question that on the highest level, some of the
most beautiful and fascinating
North American antiques in private and public collections throughout
the continent are painted and decorated. The painting of furniture,
which I suppose you could call "the art of enrichment,"
began with the earliest settlers in the 17th century and flourished
until the last quarter of the 19th.
- This sweeping variety of decoration in furniture included
painting used to imitate a
finer wood or marble, as well as fanciful depictions of animals
and nature. The many forms of furniture that were painted included
chests of drawers, chairs, blanket boxes, tables, settees, beds,
clocks, looking-glasses, desks, secretaries - almost every useful
and decorative object for the home.
- Perhaps the most famous of all the painted furniture belongs
to the Pennsylvania German Cabinetmakers, who are mistakenly
referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch. They were distinguished for
their industry, temperance and economy. They perpetuated a great
many of their traditions from the old country, yet they also
had to become self-sufficient. They did this by borrowing from
English influences in stylish Philadelphia.
Floral spreads and birds were painted on plain backgrounds of
dark green, red and
so on. They made some lovely examples of painted furniture, which
can be found in
homes and museums today. In closing, it should be remembered
that the idea of "embellishment" is just that - the
adding to, and enriching of
not the "covering"
Peter Green, founder of Asheford
Institute of Antiques, an antique and appraisal home-study-school,
and owner of South Meadow Farm Antiques in Muskoka, ON, is a
syndicated antique columnist.
- Other columns: Issue
80 - Issue 79 - Issue 78 - Issue
76 - Issue 75