"Victorian" is often referred to as a style, but don't make the mistake of confusing a style with an era. Victorian furniture refers to pieces made during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). In an era that embraced both mechanization and Romanticism, furniture of this period was both mass produced and carefully handcrafted resulting in an era known for its many styles.
Common Victorian Era Styles:
1). Gothic Revival (1830-1860)
Inspired by the Medieval cathedrals of Europe, the Gothic Revival style utilizes pointed arches, trefoils, and quatrefoils in its design. If it looks like something you'd find in a church, it's probably Gothic Revival in style.
|Gothic Revival style railing.|
2). Rococo Revival (1840-1860)
A departure from symmetry and order, the Rococo Revival style is best identified by its lavish embellishments of shells, scrollwork, C-scrolls, S-scrolls and acanthus leaves. Inspired by French design, the Rococo Revival style is considered very feminine using curves and natural forms. If it's heavily carved, embellished, or even gilded it's probably Rococo.
|Rococo Revival style parlor table.|
3). Renaissance Revival (1860-1890)
A reaction to the feminine Rococo Revival style, the Renaissance Revival style emerged around the time of the Civil War and is considered masculine in design. Using cartouches, animal and humanoid figures, burled woods and incised motifs, the style was implemented in the most masculine rooms of the home - the dining room and bedroom. Furniture for these rooms are large in scale with heavy details emoting masculinity.
|Renaissance Revival style dresser.|
4). Aesthetic Movement (1860-1890)
A rejection of revivalism, the Aesthetic Movement was a style all its own that thrived on the notion that beautiful objects could enhance one's life. Aesthetic Movement pieces used bold colors inspired by lacquered wares in Japanese art, floral motifs, flat surface decoration (like painting), ebonized wood, and marquetry. If it looks like a fusion of Japanese and American design, it's probably a piece made during this movement.
|Aesthetic Movement ebonized table.|