American Furniture By E. T. Joy

marked by concave, 'sabre-shaped' curves. The stiles of the side chair are sabre curved; the stiles turn forward as seat rails which repeat the concave curves; these curves are repeated again in the sabre-shaped front legs; and again, at least somewhat, in the concave curved rear legs. The back may contain a cross-bar or a splat of either lyre or vase form. Every line and outline of the chair is curved except the seat. Add curving arms to this form and you have the Directory arm-chair, which sometimes, as in a library chair, is partly upholstered. Directory sofas are in the shape of a broad, squat lyre which rests on short sabre-curved legs, the upper out¬ward curves of the 'lyre' transformed into outrolling arms.

The wood of these chairs and sofas is mostly mahogany. As to decoration, reeding is sometimes added, or a little carv¬ing such as cameo-cut leaves, wheat-ears or 'sheaves of lightning'. The master of the Directory style in America was Duncan Phyfe, whose finely harmonious proportions and curving rhythms have been fully praised. Aronson, for example, said: 'There is little in any furniture, American or European, to excel in beauty or technique the grace of these interpretations'.

Empire: when the war of 1812 between England and the United States was ended (1814), few Americans were in the mood to follow the classical Regency furniture style then the vogue in England. They turned, instead, to Napoleon's classical style - French Empire - for which they had cared little until then. This style was marked in America, as in France, by largish, bulky furniture in cube or rectangular forms, which gained a showy effect from sumptuous veneers of mahogany or rosewood. As usual, the Americans interpreted the style with much freedom, leaving out most of the Roman and Egyptian motives so dear to Napoleon. There were no gilded bronze mountings as in France, only a little brass ornamentation, and few, if any, Egyptian sphinxes or Roman allegorical figures and military symbols, such as fasces and laurel wreaths. In brief, the adaptation followed the traditional Ameri¬can tendency to be simple and inornate.

While many of the chairs combine motives borrowed from other periods - for example, sabre-curved stiles and side rails from the Directory together with reeded or ringed-and-collared straight round front legs from Sheraton - the characteristic American Em¬pire chair has a downward sloping, loop-like top rail, a vase-shaped splat with a hood fitted between it and the top rail; concave-curved front legs, often with pro-jecting knees, and raked or sabre-curved rear legs. American Empire sofas also show motives from other periods, such as Directory 'roll over' arms. But as a rule the whole conception and construction of the sofa is more massive, and the squat-lyre form outline curves tend to become swan-neck or cornu¬copia curves, a tendency emphasized by carving them to resemble swan necks or cornucopias. The legs of these sofas are scrolls or, later, winged legs with animal feet (representing the Egyptian griffin).

Animal feet, with or without wings, also characteristically, are found on bureaux, wardrobes, sideboards, pier tables, etc. In many American Empire bureaux (chests of drawers) the top drawer overhangs the lower drawers and the overhang is supported by columns, some plain, some variously orna¬mented with ring turnings, reeding, or carving, such as quilted or 'pineapple* designs. The columns and overhang also appear on American Empire desks, secre¬taries and sideboards.

In some cases, prob¬ably late examples, vertically elongated scroll supports are used instead of columns. Another feature often found on American Empire cabinet pieces is the treatment of the top drawer as a broad, convex-curved 'torus' moulding. Frequently the sides of such cabinet pieces are panelled. A type of chair and sofa not previously mentioned now made its appearance: the ancient Roman curule seat, formed by joining two half-circles back to back, X-shape. Other singular forms such as sleigh-shaped beds and 'Grecian' sofas became popular. A new development in mirror frames also appeared. The columns at the sides became larger arid heavier yet were used decoratively rather than struc¬turally. Instead of delicate reeding, they

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