Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The modernity of Neoclassical style

Neoclassicism was very much a reaction to over the top ornateness of Baroque and Rococo styles. It was a movement to return to the 'purity' of classical (Roman) architecture and decorative arts. It started in Britain and France, and moved across Europe, and encompasses the styles of Directoire, Empire, Biedermeier, and Federal in America - among others.

Neoclassical furniture fits perfectly in to our modern sensibility. The furniture of these styles is wonderfully simple and elegant, and doesn't need to shout at you to make a statement.

Elle Decor - Designer: Paula Caravelli 
Elle Decor - Tribeca loft of artist Nabil Nahas
Both of these contemporary rooms use Neoclassical style with modern effect - Biedermeier style (top photo) and Empire (bottom photo). The warm woods and clean shapes are perfect for mixing styles of old and new. 

Doyle New York American Furniture Sale Nov. 18th - Lot 121

This is a positively gorgeous example of American Neoclassical design. The curved arms and the detailed carving of the mahogany are so elegant. Love those paw feet! This sofa is offered in the Doyle New York American Furniture sale with an auction estimate of $1,200 - $2,000. It's 2nd quarter 19th century. 
Doyle New York - Lot 189A

This is another wonderful example of American Neoclassical. This is also in the Doyle New York sale, and has an auction estimate of $600 - $900. Again, the shapes are to die for. The curves of the arms, the angle of the back, and the intricately carved legs make this a work of art that you can sit on!

Biedermeier is probably my favorite style in this category. The blond mixed with the black ebonized wood is so chic. They look almost Deco to me, and have such an artistic quality. This example (a pair) of Biedermeier bergeres from the 1st half of the 19th century were sold at a Christie's auction in New York for $4,541. They are made of fruitwood and ebonized wood.

This pair of Biedermeier walnut side chairs from the mid-19th century sold for $2,706 at the most recent New Orleans auction. The winning bid was well above the auction estimate of $45 - $700 which is a testament to the popularity of the style. The curve of the back and the color f the wood set these chairs off.

This pair of Biedermeier fruitwood chairs is offered in the upcoming Bonhams sale November 21st in San Francisco. They have an auction estimate of $400 - $600. Aren't the curly cue backs marvelous?

This is a lovely, simply designed Italian neoclassical carved giltwood mirror. It's offered in the Stair Galleries sale of Dominick Dunne's estate November 20th. It's 39.5" tall x 12.75" wide, which makes it a great shape for narrow spaces between things. The carved laurel leaf is the perfect neoclassical touch. This has an auction estimate of $400 - $600. 

Elle Decor - Designer: Darryl Carter

I've had this photo in my blog before, but it is the perfect closing example of using Neoclassical in a modern room. Darryl Carter's book The New Traditional outlines exactly the ethos of mixing modern and traditional, or in this case Neoclassical!

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