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Biedermeier periods

Biedermeier Furniture

Dear Diva Readers,

Biedermeier Furniture Sofa

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>When it comes to antique furniture, different styles often reflect what was happening during the era. Much like today in the post 9/11 era we’ve seen a shift towards comfort and coziness in the home, in earlier times shifts in politics, reigning monarchs, industrialization, and war had a lot to do with the way furniture was made and the materials that were used to make it. The Biedermeier style is a fabulous example of this – it emerged in central Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. Since Napoleon had conquered most of Europe, his defeat at Waterloo in 1815 brought many changes, including a shift in preference from popular French Empire style to a more clean-lined look that is still popular today. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”

Biedermeier Furniture chest

Biedermeier Furniture Pair of Chairs black leather

During this time of peace, a growing urban middle class shifted its focus towards home making and interior design – there was a focus on today what we’d call nesting. However, the mood during the early Biedermeier period was still cautious, and is reflected in the simpler forms of furniture, essentially Empire style stripped of its ormolu mounts and gilding toning it down a bit. As Mies Van der Rohe said, “Less in More.” Pieces were also made more on human scale and were created to be functional as well as beautiful. While these pieces had less ornamentation, they were not devoid of detail -(God, I’m full of quotes today… wasn’t it Mies who said, “God is in the details?). By 1830 craftsmen began to include simple carvings of sphinx, swans, lion paws, acanthus, and lyres.

Biedermeier Furniture small table

Biedermeier Furniture light wood table

While Empire pieces were usually made from dark mahogany woods, Biedermeier furniture was typically made of lighter woods such as birch, ash, pear, and cherry giving the styles a decisively different feel. Viennese craftsmen began to use local timber, often finishing pieces with walnut veneer over a soft wood frame. They also started using original designs rather than taking inspiration from French, German, and Italian designs. Sometimes black poplar or bird’s eye maple were used and artisans would adorn furniture with gold paint rather than gilding them. While bronze appliqués were popular on Empire pieces, less expensive stamped brass wreaths or stars could also be added to Biedermeier pieces.

Biedermeier Furniture table with bronze appliqués

As politics changed from 1815-1848 furniture makers gradually shifted from a utilitarian mindset to a more romanticized style, where straight lines became curved and simple finishes became embellished with inlay and other decorative elements. The serpentine shape began appearing in chair arms and table legs. Pleated fabrics became popular and were used in upholstery as well as on walls, ceilings and in alcoves. As craftsmen travelled throughout Europe looking for work, they brought traditions from their native lands and incorporated local styles, which is why we see so many variations of Biedermeier furniture. A slight alteration to a chair leg, a curve of a table’s foot, an experimental finish— all of these elements make the Biedermeier style so interesting and diverse.

Biedermeier Furniture secretair

After WWII Biedermeier furniture became popular in Britain and America, and its influence can even be seen in the early 1920’s when Art Deco came into fashion. Today, many furniture makers still take inspiration for modern furniture lines from the Biedermeier style because it has clean lines and is popular with city-dwellers throughout the world. It’s no wonder this style has endured for over a century—we still long for perfectly proportioned pieces that offer functionality and are aesthetically pleasing too.

Biedermeier Furniture day bed

If you would like information on our antique buying tours or buying services, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to help you source the pieces you’re looking for!

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Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

The Diva’s Dish on Naarden’s Art and Antiques Weekend

top:5px;float:left;color:white;background:#781300;border:1px solid darkkhaki;font-size:100px;line-height:90px;padding-top:1px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>When I went to the Kunst & Antiek Weekend in Naarden-Vesting a few weeks ago, I had such a good time that I decided it would be downright criminal to neglect to divulge the details of my diva-licious day! Plus, you know me… I love to share shopping secrets and on that particular day, my pocketbook was stuffed to overflowing as I collected business cards, pamphlets, brochures and magazines.

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This fair is a great source for antique shops, art galleries and boutiques

While the Art and Antiques Weekend is great to visit, in my opinion it is even better to use as a resource for compiling your own personal database of shops, galleries and boutiques you would like to visit in the future. Going to this show is much like enjoying a wine tasting – it tempts your taste buds for more. All this to say, I didn’t spend one euro more than the 12.50 Euro entrance fee – however that fee might end up costing me thousands in the long run as I revisit all the stores and websites on my list!

While I can’t share a full list of all the shops servicing the show, I will share a few of my favorite finds – the best of the best of Naarden’s Art and Antiques Weekend. First off is the eponymously-named Anouk Beerents Antiek Spiegels, whose owner is as exceedingly charming as her inventory of 18th and 19th C gilt and silver-leafed antique mirrors. I was immediately bewitched upon entering her stall and her laughter was delightful as I danced around the many mirrors, unable to take my eyes off my reflecting reflections.

“You should see my atelier” she enticed as I pirouetted past one mirror and into another. Her studio in Amsterdam, located on the Prinsengracht, is so big that she has more than 300 mirrors in inventory. Although the warehouse is only open by appointment, she does offer an incredible perk, saying “just drive into Amsterdam, and pull your car directly into my studio!” Now that is what I call on-site parking!

Just next to Anouk’s stall was another shop bearing the name of its owner — Robert Schreuder’s Antiquair. Robert charmed me immediately by commenting on my new purse and regaled me with a tale of his recent visit to the Louis Vuitton museum outside of Paris, a place I hadn’t realized existed. His stall was beautifully decorated with an assortment of antiques and he spoke with a friendly and engaging smile that encouraged me to linger. Unfortunately, Robert doesn’t have a shop address you can pop into and visit at will, as he is, in fact, a hobby-antiquaire while keeping his day job as a high-powered attorney. He spends his weekends assembling a remarkable collection of furniture from the Neoclassical, Empire and Biedermeier periods and amassing an assortment of antique Grand Tour souvenirs. You can visit him at one of the many upcoming fairs where he’ll be displaying pieces from his collections. Better yet, make an appointment to visit him in his private atelier in Amsterdam nearby tos/ig/Top-5-Amsterdam-Parks/Photos–Amsterdam-s-Best-Parks.htm” target=”_blank”>Sarphati Park. I have half a mind to give him a call to make an appointment and take a second look at his French mahogany writing desk (dated around 1830) and priced at 5,700E.

Perhaps more in my price range was the English Davenport Desk (complete with secret drawer right out of a Sherlock Holmes novel), also from the 1830’s, selling for 3,600E at S. Van Leeuwen’s. S. Van Leeuwen’s is located in the north end of The Hague, nearby the Royal Palace, in a beautiful 18th C mansion. For almost 100 years they have been selling a delicious inventory of high-quality 17th and 18th C antiques as well as collectibles from the 19th C.

Another vendor from The Hague who caught my attention was the Galerie Het Cleyne Huys, a modern art gallery specializing in Dutch artists. A significant amount of their wall space was devoted to the works of Corry Kooy who simply stole the show with her portraits and travel impressions. The prices on her pastels and oil paintings were such a good deal that I considered purchasing one on the spot. Ultimately, I decided to wait and attend one of her upcoming shows at the gallery so that WG could have a say in the decision.

Amsterdam’s Dolf D. Van Omme’s 19th – 21st C European Fine Arts dazzled me with their collection of high-end art. Prices started around the 2,000E price point and moved judiciously towards the teens and twenties as the pedigrees improved. Of particular interest was the work by Leo Gestel and Piet van der Hem. While I know Antiek de Eikelhof more for their 17th C Dutch, English, Spanish and French commodes, armoires and bureaus, it was their paintings at the fair that caused me to pause for more than an instant. A well-versed clerk explained the difference in the paintings and informed me which artist was undervalued and what was a good investment piece. While I’ve never visited their store in Marienheem, I’m certainly adding them to my list of “Must See’s” in the future.

Last, but not least, I cannot neglect mentioning two of my favorite jewelers at the fair – Le Camee and Ans Hemke Kuilboer (Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 67, Amsterdam). Anyone who knows me well knows that I love Ans Hemke Kuilboer, and an afternoon in Amsterdam’s Spiegelkwartier is not complete without trying on a few baubles in her shop. I was delighted to find her at the fair! Sadly, Le Camee doesn’t have a shop in town. They only “do the fairs” but I’ve been assured that they’ve already signed up to have a stall at InterEvent’s next fair, Authentiek, held in the Paleis Het Loo on April 17 – 20.

At the end of the day I was exhausted from all that hard-core Antiques Diva research. You must know it’s hard work being a diva! In fact, I was so worn out from all that window-shopping I had half a mind to rush over to Het Arsenaal to check out the services in their day spa – Beauty Results.

After all, a Diva’s work is never done!

Until next time, Happy Shopping!

The Antiques Diva™

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