Gothic like the classical style, raises its head again
and again, and this shows its strength.
Time period 1200 to 1300.
Evolution - Gothic style began in france around
1150. It was due Normans who also ruled Sicily, and
sicily being under Islamic (called “Saracenic” by
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOTHIC STYLE
Gothic is symbolised by tall, slim, pointed arches
which came from the islamic east.
Tracery was another important feature which seeped
from architecture to furniture.
Domestic gothic furniture was modest and not much
of it has survived except three legged stools.
WOOD USED IN FURNITURE
Various kinds of woods were used depending upon
Oak was the chief timber in Northern Europe and
In southern france, spain and italy, many other
woods were used such as lime, apple and pear,
walnut and cypress.
Many types of stools existed during the gothic
period. X shaped stool of antique origin was
More common was 3 legged stool, with very stout
legs, cut and turned, joined by seat, rails and
stretchers, and tapped by a wooden or rush seat
whose triangular shape.
Some times one of legs was extended upwords and a
cross bracket attached to it to work as backrest.
In the 15th centuary, a new type of stool called slab-
It had a flat top of plank supported at both ends by
planks of which the edges were often shaped in a
manner that remained of buttresses employed in
A piece of wood was cut out of the base in a way as
to form a trefoil agival or cusped gothic arch.
Benches were made in the same style. The whole
look through is very islamic.
Thrones seems to be more common than simple
These were seldom moved because they were very
heavy. For e.g. the coronation chair in west minster
abbey which is highly architecture in its form.
Then another of the same level and an excellent
example of portugese ornate furniture is the throne
of D’ Afonso V of 1470.
But the throne which beats these two in being more
architecture is the silver throne of king Martin of
Most of chairs were made of wood and were
sometimes furnished with high backs, curving
forward at the top to form a canopy.
All these forms symbolically equalled our own
chhatra, umbrella over the simhasans of the kings.
Among the simple chairs, the most common was
the tub chair.
TABLES AND DESKS
Gothic tables were of two types dormant or fixed
The movable tables were usually boards on trestles.
Most writing desk were boxes with sloping top to
allow convenient writing and were highly portable.
They often had panelled construction with elaborate
decoration and flamboyant tracery.
In the middle ages people hoarded plates as some
indians hoard gold.
Later the craze was for silver drinking vessels called
in england livery ports.
As they were the pride of the house, soon furniture
makers provided an item of display for them: the
Enclosed presses came into existence in the 12th
century for use in churches and were used for secular
purposes in the later part of middle ages.
Chests or coffers were the most widespread and
popular items of gothic period.
The ones with the flat top were used as a seat, a
bench, a table, and sometimes as a bed apart from
being used as a receptacleand for storage.
Earlier, the chests were made by hollowing out a
tree trunk and sometimes reinforced with iron
This is the reason the chests were also called trunk.
A slice cut from the top acted as a lid. This again is
the origin of a curved laid on the chests.
The curve also hepled in warding off water and
The decoration was adapted from architecture.
It was constructed stoutly and simply from planks
of oak and covered with wrought iron scrolls which
increased its strength and security with the extra
decorative advantage of relieving the plainness of
Many types of beds existed during the gothic
Some had simple box like construction, otherwise
were the fixed type which had drapped testers
hung from the ceiling cords (canopy).
Some beds had half testers which were formed by
headboards extension, called demi-celours, half
Canopies were most important component of a bed
and denoted the rank of its users like chhatra,
umbrella, in indian tradition .
There were three types of canopies: celour, full
canopies : demi celours, half canopies and :
sparver, conical canopy.
Canopies were also used over seats of honour and
thrones as we have seen and where definitely
imported from the east.
In many places the apartment with the bed was
used for holding caurt, and the real bed was in a
small room attached with it for sleeping purposes,
the bed acting more like a throne.
Childrens also needed cradles and all the trappings
of beds were transferred to cradles.
Like the adults, the children were provided with two
cradles, one for show and one for actually sleeping
Time period 1515 to 1547.
As italy was the origin of the renaissance, italian
influences penetrated france, were assimilated and
emerged as a style in themselves.
New types of wood were employed and the filtered
in ifluences from german, spanish and flemish
styles were used for detailing.
CHARACTERSTICS OF EARLY RENAISSANCE
The cabinet established its place, chairs became
more comfortable and light, armless chairs with
cushions of sraw were introduced.
Carving was employed almost on all the surfaces.
Pilasters were in vogue.
The diamond shape, elaborated into starsand other
geometric shapes, was a favourite and remained so
for a century and later in the provinces.
Time period 1560 to 1610.
Disapperance of the Gothic style, disruption by wars
of the logical evolution of furniture design, and the
emergence of a definite middle class resulted in shift
from urban to provincial.
CHARACTERSTICS OF HIGH RENAISSANCE
The period of louis xiii (1610 to 1643) had furniture
gaudily splendid, monumental, overpowering and
showing off the power of just emerging
imperialism, and was the climax of high
The woods preferred were walnut and ebony.
Panels, columns and pilasters of semi-precious
stones or moulded stucco panels were introduced
Marquetry, turning and flemish carving were in
Turning was employed not only for legs but for
By adding a false front, the cabinet was turned into a
bureau, the name derived from the cloth used to
cover the writing table earlier.
Chairs were made law, perhaps to accommodate
the current elaborate head-dress and fluffs .
Instead of loose cushions, they were incorporated
in the chair, i.e. they were upholstered in leather
and decurative brass or silver nailheads were used
for fitting fouteuil also appeared.