Eastlake Style

1 Jul
     
Eastlake Style

The Eastlake Style is named for Charles Eastlake (1836-1906), an Englishman whose Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details (1868) was highly influential in American design, by translating John Ruskin and William Morris’ ideas into a decorative vocabulary for the carpenter and builder. The Eastlake style’s importance is delineated by the use of geometric shapes made possible by modern machine techniques of the era. By making these intricate shapes with machines, it was possible to duplicate the exact complex patterns repeatedly, and in unusual places, such as the inside plates of a hinge. It’s important to realize, however, that Eastlake always emphasized “simple, elegant motifs” rather than the florid decorative excesses of high Victorian style, and the majority of the items labeled “Eastlake” appalled him, as he frequently wrote during his lifetime. This is particularly evident in the United States, where basic Eastlake motifs were usually multiplied into a dizzying geometric mandala of Victorian intricacy.

As the 20th century approached, there was then a revival of old forms in furniture under the name of the Queen Anne, although frequently spoken of by dealers, with absurd anachronism, as the Early English. While the articles made according to Mr. Eastlake’s instructions may be considered a reform, and the Neo-Jacobean a fashion, the revival of the Queen Anne seems to have sufficiently positive features to be regarded as a style. This revival is said to be the work of that knot of poets and artists and connoisseurs of bric-a-brac at whose head stand Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris, and the traces of Italian fancy and English quaintness combined in it declare that it might have been their work if it is not.

 

Its introduction was associated with a revival of Queen Anne forms in architecture, such as the somewhat Dutch character of country house with red brick trimmings and curved gables, to be found in the latter years of William and Mary, qualified by new invention and modern taste. Of course it met with opposition and criticism; for it seemed to have sprung into notice full grown, not like a growth answering a need, but like a surprise. Animated discussions concerning its merits and demerits, displaying equal acrimony and ignorance, took place in the meetings of the architects and others interested in such things, various voices declaring that nobody would credit Queen Anne’s epoch with any style at all, and that if the epoch had a style, it was not this; that this was a mongrel, violating classic rules while pretending to be a form of classic, and yet really not unsuited to Gothic surroundings; and that, being an attempt to unite the truthfulness, variety, and picturesqueness of the Gothic with the common sense of the Italian, it should be called the Free Classic, for it was in reality only a Renaissance, less strict and refined that the old Renaissance. A writer in The Builder said: “We are now offered in some quarters the revival of the furniture of the Queen Anne and Georgina Period, of which Chippendale and Sheraton were the leading makers. This type of furniture revels in curved lines and surfaces really unsuitable, as we have before said, to wood construction and which, in fact, seem designed to create difficulties of execution in order to overcome them.” But it is not all this bombe furniture referred to, with its curved lines and surfaces, that was chosen for the archetype of the new Queen Anne. It is true that Chippendale and Sheraton produced such designs, but they also, as we have seen, produced others more characteristic of themselves and of the period. The first portion of Chippendale’s One Hundred and Sixty Plates has examples of the rolling abominations of the Rococo, but the rest is a collection of simple and rather elegant shapes; and what resemblance there is between the Chippendale furniture and the Queen Anne is confined to the latter portion of his illustrations and the articles manufactured from those designs.

The revived Queen Anne and that which was purely home bred and national of the original style, revels in no curves whatever but is severely square and straight. Its lines are a rebound from the curves of two centuries. All of its articles stand well off the floor, upon strong supports, the construction perfectly apparent, the corners sharp, the panels many and small; it carries much plate glass, cut always with a deep bevel, and it has a great deal of carving in the face, that is, in such relief, of the conventional forms of fruit, flowers, foliage, birds, and animals, and their idealized suggestions; it uses but little metal in its heavy articles, but illuminates itself with numberless small and precious mirrors, with brass sconces and candelabra, and with rare china, and its mantelpieces overflow with sculptured beauty of column and capital and frieze. Some of the choicer traits of the Elizabethan occasionally appear in the carving of the cabinets; there is even a hint of the Louis Quinze in the long reedy legs that now and then uphold some light square object. Generally it was thoroughly eclectic, and if there was the least reminiscence of the Gothic in the tops of sideboards, buffets, and cabinets, there was also a general character of the Louis Quinze throughout the whole. But the style has struck the beauty loving eye wherever it has been seen. The Queen Anne was perhaps the most satisfactory American domestic furniture, being reasonable and sufficiently beautiful. It is quaint and picturesque, and has the simplicity and quietness of old work, without architectural pretension.

 
U.S. Domestic Use

STICK EASTLAKE VILLA

(1875-1895)
Inspired by the designs of Charles Eastlake, these homes include a square tower, incised panels, machine-cut friezes and decorative motifs. Stick Eastlake cottages and homes include these Eastlake motifs but have no tower.

Thanks to http://www.sharonkramlich.com/sfinfo/architecture/ 

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