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It is impossible to spend any significant time in Barcelona without feeling the influence of Antoni Gaudí. Being easily influence, I couldn’t get enough of his work and am truly fascinated by him and his works.
For those not so influenced (or aware), I offer the following paragraph copied and pasted from a Wikipedia article:
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet; (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect from Reus and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works reflect an individualized and distinctive style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família.
Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
As an introduction to Mr. Gaudí, we will explore some of his furniture then. In time, several of his buildingswill be explored.
Much of this furniture was designed for specific buildings. It is firmly in the Art Nouveau style with its organic fluid lines with direct references to nature.
Reproductions of these and other Gaudi pieces are still available.
I am not sure if the following furniture is designed by Gaudi but it does exist within Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera. This was the last civil work designed by Antoni Gaudí and was built from 1906 to 1912.
The furniture may not be Gaudi but it is era and style appropriate and in Barcelona.
Shortly, we will examine some of Gaudi’s s iconic buildings.
There is a fairly common type furniture, many variations with the word setback almost always being in the name. Usually made in two pieces, stacked with the upper section being shallower than the lower. They often look as if they could exist as two pieces of furniture. The base of the upper section is the same as or reflects the base of the lower section as in the following examples:
I ran across this piece in a Raleigh antique/consignment shop. I believe mistakes were made in stacking:
(Although this style is fairly common, I still had to go through 8,000 picture to come up with these the three exemplars. I really need to get an intern.)
I go to all these auctions so you don’t have to. As our fearless leader says, “Believe me”. It’s not always enjoyable but it is necessary. I do what must be done.
Take an auction from the fourth quarter of 2016. The weather was miserable and I didn’t want to go. But I knew I must. And how was I rewarded? I walked in and this is the first thing I saw:
An end view provides you with important construction details should you want to make one of your own:
I did see one of the nicest gout stools I’ve seen in a while:
I will be saving the examination of this book for a time in the future whenI will compare it to the original 1917 volume as to form and content:
The genesis of this blog was a visit to Atlanta in February of 2012. I attended the Cathedral Antiques Show, which I think is the finest antiques show I have ever attended. Nothing but the best with prices and hors d’oeuvres to match.
A dealer there had a game table I had read about but never seen. It has a mechanism for table support that is unique. It was a gorgeous table with a high level of appropriate decoration. The dealer was anxious to show me the table and explain in great detail the history and construction of the table. It was amazing.
Only problem was that the show had a rather strict “no photography” policy. The dealer was sympathetic but was more concerned about his status as a dealer than my blog. That I wasn’t writing yet.
I finally found another table of this design at an auction a few weeks back. I can finally share this different table with you, my loyal reader.
But first, a prime on game table technology. The game table or card table for the purposes of this blog refers to a relatively small table with a folded top that opens to reveal a flat surface that is meant for playing cards or other games. There are many forms and variations of this table including:
The one-legged table:
I have not seen a two-legged table. It could be that there is a trestle table with a folding top, but I’ve not seen it.
A three-legged table might be possible but, again, I’ve not seen one.
What comes close is actually a four-legged table:
In this implementation, the fourth leg pulls straight out of the rear apron to support the top.
A variation of this table:
Then we advance to the four-legged table. This variation has a hinged or gate leg that swings out to support the top:
This table needs two legs to make it happen:
(I was looking for through my library for a picture of this type table without luck. Then I went over to an auction Wednesday to preview on online auction and found this one being readied for the next auction.)
Let’s not forget the five-legged table:
This is an example of the table for which I have been searching for these five long years:
English Queen Anne Card Table
Description: Mid 18th century, mahogany, mahogany veneer, shaped top with molded edge, opening to reveal felt lined interior, skirt with herringbone line inlay, cabriole legs featuring acanthus carved knee, raised on pad feet.
The side view led me to believe that I had found it:
Using my spiffy camera with live view and rotating/swinging back I was able to shoot up and see what lay beneath:
There was a mechanism that unfolds and allows the back apron to fall back well over 18″ to support the top:
This view shows the board that slides in the groove to lock the back legs into place.
This blog has been five years in the making. Was it worth it? We’ll know when awards season arrives.
The two better local auction houses each had an 18th century Bible box in the same week’s auctions. As best I can recollect, neither has had a Bible box before. Both of them having one in the same week is really unusual.
The first one up is this:
Eighteenth Century English Bible Box Desk
Description: Mid 18th Century; 10.75 inches height, 23.5 inches width, 16 inches depth; made of old English oak, has fully carved front panel of interlocking scrolls, interior has two upper fitted drawers, has original hand forged butterfly hinges, and locking clasp, constructed with hand forged rose head nails, overall condition is outstanding and original.
This one could be used as a writing desk. The lid is plain and it has a pencil ledge.
And the other auction house had:
English Relief Carved Bible Box
Description: Mid-18th century, oak, top and hinged lid with chip carved edge, wrought iron hinges, the lid is relief carved and dated 1740, open interior with three upper horizontal divisions, front with relief carved stylized dragons.
This one has a carved lid:
Not useful as a writing desk unless you just plan on writing Post-Its.
The first one has two drawers in the gallery:
Oddly, the drawers are not dovetailed:
The second box has a divided gallery:
The first one has a single board back with some interesting bead details:
The second has a single board back without decoration:
Front edge has decoration on the first:
Plain edges on the second:
One of them followed me home.
Actually, I had to go back and get it.
A Morris chair is an early type of reclining chair. The design was adapted by William Morris’s firm, Morris & Company, from a prototype owned by Ephraim Colman in rural Sussex, England. It was first marketed around 1866.
Morris chairs feature a seat with a reclining back and moderately high armrests, which give the chair an old-style appearance. The characteristic feature of a Morris chair is a hinged back, set between two un-upholstered arms.
Morris chair is a fairly flexible term. If you add the word Style, it becomes positively elastic.
Below are two from a recent auction. The first is considered a traditional Morris chair:
Morris Style Reclining Arm Chair
Description: Circa 1900, mahogany and pine, transitional mission style frame, later paisley upholstered cushions.
For some reason the auctioneer listed this under Furniture – English and Continental.
It has a robust back adjust mechanism:
The other is more of the “Mission” or the “Craftsman” Morris chair. This one is listed under Furniture – American:
Morris Style Reclining Arm Chair
Description: Circa 1900, later blue upholstery, oak frame, adjustable back with iron support bar, raised on shaped feet.
This back adjustment seems a bit less robust:
The content of this blog feels a bit light. I am obligated to add a few more chairs from the same auction. Third up is this chair just ready for you and your designer to make your own:
Queen Anne Wing Back Chair Frame
This lot has sold for $310.
Description: 18th century frame, oak and other hardwoods, with later front cabriole legs.
One way to get rid of all the vermin in your horsehair stuffing.
And one last chair to round things out. Or, in this case, a pair of chairs:
Pair of Transitional Carved Arm Chairs
This lot has sold for $400.
Description: Early 20th century, mahogany, floral needlepoint over upholstery, bowed arms terminating in eagle head, legs with acanthus carved knee and ball and claw foot.
One of a pair, the other looks just like it.
What really amused me about these chairs are the carved arms:
Yet more interesting(?) things from a recent auction.
There were three very different low boys at the auction a few weeks back. It is unusual to have that many low boys at one auction. They are as follows:
George II Inlaid Low Boy
Description: 18th century, oak, pine secondary, top with banded veneer bordered edge, single long drawer above three side by side short drawers, shaped skirt, on cabriole legs with ball and claw feet.
Size: 29 x 31.5 x 18.5 in.
English Queen Anne Low Boy
Description: 18th century, oak and elm, pine secondary, upper long drawer above three side by side short drawers, boldly scrolled skirt, cabriole legs with pad feet.
Size: 28.75 x 30 x 19.5 in.
Henry Ford Museum Reproduction Low Boy
Description: Colonial Manufacturing Co., with label and tag to interior of drawer, “Number 326 Mahogany Savery Low Boy”, upper long drawer above three side by side drawers, central with shell carving, fluted canted quarter columns, on cabriole legs with shell carved knee on ball and claw feet.
Size: 30 x 36 x 20.5 in.
I will mostly ignore the impostor for this blog. It has machine cut dovetails, believe it or not. The only interesting thing about it is the carved shell on the center drawer:
We will now compare parts of the two remaining low boys starting with the aprons and some drawer area details:
Some carcass detail:
All low boys have legs:
The cabriole leg continues up:
And edge treatments:
There was actually a fourth low boy at the auction:
Edwardian Inlaid Low Boy
Description: In the Queen Anne taste, circa 1900, mahogany, mahogany veneer, rectangular top with herringbone and sawtooth inlays, upper long drawer above a central hinged cabinet door flanked by two small drawers, shaped skirt, tall tapered legs with pad feet.
Size: 33 x 36 x 23 in.
And a fifth one at this weeks auction:
Description: Circa 1760, white pine secondary, top with molded edge, upper long lipped drawer above three side by side lipped drawers, shaped skirt with drop finials, raised on tall cabriole legs with pad feet.
Size: 32 x 35 x 21.5 in.
I will cover these later.
It just doesn’t really matter.
At the recent auction I saw and was mildly amused by this:
Primitive New England Hanging Cupboard
Description: Late 19th century, white pine, distressed green painted surface, hinged paneled doors with shelved interior, over two drawers.
Not really that interesting a piece. Out of force of habit, I looked at the drawer construction and it became more interesting. But only slightly:
The front dovetails are the then trendy thin pins. Looks to be around 1:6 or 9°. Or so. Fairly consistent leading me to think they were highly skilled or used some form of gauge.
The rear dovetails are fewer and coarser with the fairly extreme 1:2.4 or 30°. Darn near vulture tails in miniature.
Makes one wonder. Front dovetails as a means to show the skill of the maker and the rear pins more utilitarian? Putting the effort where it can be seen by prospective customers. Front pins made by the more skilled and rear pins by the lesser skilled, a division of labor?
It is fairly common for the drawer bottom to extend out the back of the drawer to become the back drawer stop.
I liked the turned knob and molding:
Dovetail angles. It doesn’t really matter, does it? Still, one can cogitate…
Today’s parable of the movement of wood concerns this George III Linen Press:
Description: Circa 1800, two-part form, high-grade burlwood mahogany veneers, mahogany, pine secondary, applied arched cornice with ebonized line inlay above a vertically veneered frieze, upper cabinet with two hinged doors, center with an applied reeded brass mount, each door featuring a rectangular panel with an inset square to each corner, interior with four pull-out linen drawers, base with two over two graduated cockbeaded drawers, raised on French bracket feet with a shaped skirt. (Thus sayeth the auction house.)
The maker of this press made an interesting choice when they made the doors. A large, wide board would have been a bad idea. The wide board would move and be highly unlikely to stay flat. A four-panel board would have been a common construction for a press in that era. Or any era. What is unusual is that they veneered over a four-panel door. A bad idea:
If you have ever read about, seen a video about or (God forbid) actually made a panelled door, you know that if you are using real wood for the panel, you don’t glue the panel to the frame. With our 20th/21st century sensibilities we know that the panels will move, expand across the width of the board. If glued, the frame may crack or glue joints may fail.
I have to believe that a 19th century cabinetmaker would have known about wood movement and the perils therein. Yet they choose to glue veneer to a panel that is guaranteed to (and did) move. With the expected results. To their credit, they did a really good job gluing the veneer down. No glue failures here. And the doors still exist in one plane, no warps. Impossible to say how long the veneer held it together.
Now, on to the drawers. I do like the pulls. They seem to be original:
The dovetails again are unique:
They seem to have left a pin off. Then again, symmetry is so overrated.
I know I said I would be finishing with the Barcelona Design Museum but there is just so much to process that I need to take a break from it until I figure out how to properly report on it. That and I am in week three of a cold I brought back from the Philippines. Oh, yeah, I was in the Philippines for about a week. I got per diem so it must have been for work. That’s the difference between a business trip and a vacation. If you get per diem, it’s a business trip. If you choose where you’re going, it’s a vacation. Something to be said for both.
Fortunately, the local better auction house has provided me with topics so plentiful that I should be able to enlighten and amuse you for quite a while. Eh?
First up is this American Hepplewhite Sideboard:
Description: Early 19th century, probably Mid Atlantic, mahogany, mahogany veneers, white pine and poplar secondary, concave central section with single drawer above two small cabinet doors, flanked by rounded corners, with cabinet doors, raised on square tapered legs. Size 38.5 x 64 x 23.5 in. (From the auction house.)
The curves were what caught my attention. There are many ways to bend or curve wood. We learned from a recent plantation visit that you can bend certain species by soaking them in a river for one year per inch of thickness to make the wood pliable. If you don’t have a convenient river, you can use steam for a more practical one hour per inch.
Then there is bent lamination in which thin layers of wood are glued and placed in a form of the desired shape. (Think freeform plywood.)
If you want to know about kerf bending, you can look it up.
If you can’t bend, you can always make it look bent or curved. There is the brute force method requiring a block of wood that is large enough to contain the curved part and cutting away the parts that fall outside the curves. This method leaves a lot of wood on the shop floor assuming, you can locate a block of wood that is large enough to contain the part. Then you need a saw (hand or powered) that is large enough to accommodate the blank.
A common variation is stacked lamination in which you do as above but one inch in height at a time. Start with a one-inch block of wood: work it to the desired contour. Glue another block atop it and contour to match. If you are into power tools, typically it’s a pattern router bit with bearing or a flush trim bit with bearing. And a router.
Repeat until you reach the desired height.
The downside of this technique is that, unless you like the striped look, you need to veneer it. Not a problem if veneering is where you are going. I can see some modern studio furniture using this technique unadorned.
Breadboard ends on the curved door provide stability and hide the end grain:
The center doors are also stacked laminations, just in the opposite direction. The interesting feature is how the gap between the doors is handled. Typically when doors meet, there is some device to minimize the gap between the doors, a rabbet, a molding or one door overlapping the other. On this server they used beveled edge. The doors do not meet with a 90° butt joint, they are angled:
I’ve seen this in other case pieces but this is the first time I’ve seen it used on curved doors.
No blog of mine can be considered complete without an examination of drawer construction. The veneer hides the truth but I believe the drawer front was cut from a thick block of wood:
The thickness of the drawer front does provide for some really interesting through dovetails:
As we saw in recent blog, the thick veneer allows the maker to use through dovetails instead of the fussy, annoying half-blind dovetails.
Olot is the capital city of the comarca of Garrotxa, in the Province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain on the European continent of the third planet of a star located at Sector 001. Approximately.
This blog is about the beds of Olot or more accurately, the headboards of the beds of Olot created in the late 18th century. Reading badly translated articles, by 1787, there were six workshops specializing in making headboards, making 300 to 500 per year. There was no master bedmaker but rather a collaboration between carpenters, carvers and painter/gilders. The articles also claim that some of these headboards were even shipped to the Americas in spite of their bulk and delicate nature.
From the wall in the exhibit:
The beds/headboards speak for themselves so I offer them without comment.