Victorian Furniture: History & Styles

Instructor: Amy Jackson

Amy has a BFA in Interior Design as well as 19 years teaching experience and a doctorate in education.

''Less is more'' did not apply to the Victorian era. In fact, the Victorian era considered the more the better. More detailing, more furniture, and more luxury was the style of the time. This lesson will focus on the history and characteristics of Victorian furniture.

Victorian Furniture History and Styles

The Victorian Period in furniture dates from approximately 1830-1890. The reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) and her love of the ornate greatly affected design styles during this period. Most Victorian furniture is a mixture of many other styles including Gothic, Tudor, Elizabethan, Rococo, and Neoclassic, with Gothic and Rococo being the most common. True Victorian furniture is difficult to recognize because of this mixing of styles. The Victorian look was typically cluttered with dark furniture, heavy fabrics, and lots of china and glassware as accessories.

The Industrial Revolution transformed manufacturing processes and made the middle class more prosperous. New wealth required a means of showcasing this new status in homes. The manufacturing capabilities of the Industrial Revolution caused Victorian furniture to be the first style of furniture to be mass produced in order to fulfill the decorating needs of the newly prosperous. Direct contact between the individual craftsmen and the purchaser no longer existed. Furniture pieces were made by multiple persons, rather than a single craftsman creating an entire piece, which eventually cheapened the quality of craftsmanship.

Victorian furniture was a precursor to other styles such as Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts.

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