Queen Victoria is the longest reigning monarch in English history. During her period of rule, from 1837 to 1901, which is known as the Victorian era, the British middle class gained in numbers as the economy improved. Upwardly mobile families wanted home furnishings to match their new status. Mass production entered the furniture factories and the embellished style preferred by Queen Victoria heavily influenced the design of the furniture. Mahogany, rosewood and oak were primarily used. The Gothic influence dominated design in the early years of the Victorian era. Victorian chairs had a variety of design elements, especially as the era progressed in years.
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Victorian dining chairs were the least embellished home furnishings of the era. Mahogany curved top rails were tapered down to the seat, which then flared into a wide cushion, making sitting easy for women wearing long dresses and crinolines. Instead of traditional cabriole legs, a baluster was placed between the legs for further support.
The Grandfather Victorian armchair has a high, spoon-shaped back. Usually upholstered in tapestry or velvet, the arms are rolled and covered with fabric. Cabriole legs perch on top of either round or bear-claw shaped feet and porcelain casters. The porcelain caster is indicative of Victorian construction.
The Victorian tub chair usually features a rounded button back upholstered in velvet. Mahogany is the preferred wood for such a chair. The arms are rolled and upholstered and the legs curve gently from the seat down to the short, round feet and porcelain casters.
Deep Seated Chair
The deep seated Victorian chair is totally upholstered. Arms are rolled and highly cushioned. The seat is cushioned and deep and the back is covered completely. A skirting board drops below the seat to the heavy chair feet.
The wing chair has been used in homes for more than 250 years, but mass production put it in the forefront of Victorian home furnishings. The wings of the sides were originally designed to protect the sitter from drafts. The curved top was elaborately carved and matched the carvings on the cabriole legs. As the lengthy era progressed, a plainer version became popular. However, the legs still maintained the rich carvings. Upholstery depended on the room in which the wing chair was placed, with leather preferred for smoking rooms, billiard rooms or libraries. Damask and velvet were used in the formal rooms.
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