Sheraton Style Furniture
Popular and in vogue in England, and subsequently in America,
from approximately 1790-1820, Sheraton style furniture is still
very popular today. Developed and promoted by Thomas
Sheraton, this style, characterized by a marked linear simplicity,
rounded legs and almost severe character contrasted sharply
with the preceding more voluptuous Chippendale style.
Sheraton, born in England, was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker
and worked as a journeyman cabinetmaker subsequently
publishing a four volume set of design books called “The
Cabinet Maker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book” in 1791.
Although English in origin, the Sheraton style rather quickly
jumped the Atlantic Ocean to America, where driven by big
city demands for the latest fashion, American furniture makers
and craftsmen adapted the style to American tastes. The
Sheraton style was further developed in America and propelled
to its zenith by highly accomplished cabinetmakers. John and
Thomas Seymour and Samuel McIntire were located in or near
Boston, Massachusetts and its surrounding communities and
Duncan Phyfe’s shop was in New York City. All four individuals
are acknowledged masters of the Sheraton art form and their
work is highly sought after by collectors.
Sheraton style furniture is characterized by its form and by the
woods used in its manufacture. Hardwoods, especially
mahogany, were used in the body of American Sheraton style
pieces and contrasting inlays, typically ash, birch or rosewood
provided the contrasting designs which often included lines,
urns, swags, ribbons and floral motifs. Tables and chairs would
typically have straight round, tapered, legs terminating in
cylindrical, tapered or rectangular feet. The result is an
elegant, light appearance that seems to lift the object off
the surface upon which it sits.
The hardware used to highlight and functionally enhance
American Sheraton style furniture typically consists of relatively
lightweight back plates with pulls, stamped brass lions heads
and other devices. Gone were the heavy prominent winged
brasses that characterized Chippendale style furniture.
An excellent book that provides superb detail about the
identification, characteristics and construction of Sheraton
and other styles of 18th century furniture has been written
by Jeffrey P. Greene. The title of the book is American
Furniture of the 18th Century: History, Technique and Structure
(Hardcover) and is available at an excellent price by clicking on the
blue link. American Furniture of the 18th Century: History, Technique, and Structure
Please take the opportunity to view the following video to learn more.
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