Sunday, September 17, 2017

American Furniture Styles: Empire Style and Duncan Phyfe

By Gretchen Sawatzki

After the American Revolution, New York became the sphere of design influence for American furniture trends. During the post-revolutionary period, several cabinetmakers from across Europe emigrated to North America to set up shop including one of the most prominent cabinetmakers of the era, Duncan Phyfe (1768 - 1854).

By Duncan Phyfe (Brooklyn Museum) [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons


Born in Scotland, Phyfe brought the taste of European furniture making to his New York shop in 1794 drawing inspiration from Federal design. After 1800, Phyfe began to design furnishings with a French influence leading to the Empire style trend of the early 1800s.

The Empire Style (1815 - 1840) originated as an elaborate Neoclassical style in post-revolutionary France drawing on Roman and Egyptian symbols, long sleek lines, and grandeur.

Curule chair. Image By User:FA2010 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


The Empire Style can be identified by:
 - Roman and Egyptian symbols including acanthus leaves, lyres, reeding, ribbons, and animal feet.

Popular furniture forms in the style include:
 - Curule chair
 - Chairs with a lyre back splat


Sources:
  Brooklyn Museum
  Buffalo Architecture and History

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