A varied selection of the furniture evolved in the various countries under Baroque influence is given in these pages and will be discussed in relation to their practical use in our present-day interiors with each other and in connexion with furniture of the preceding Eenaissance movement. We shall also naturally wish to know whether under this system of International-Interperiod Decoration the combination may be extended still further and successive periods also be embraced with the two so far discussed.

It is the aim of these chapters not to lay down decorative dicta but to work out with the reader the problems that arise, all deductions being made from the existing facts. Clearheadedness is also such a desideratum that when we speak of the use of various pieces together we should stop and ask ourselves in each instance what we mean by "together" - directly adjoining, in the same room, or in the same house or apartment?

It is quickly evident that pieces of furniture placed side by side among the few furnishings of a small room might disagree, whereas they would only add a desirable variety in a very spacious room; also, that furniture of more decided differences might without incompatibility be employed in the various rooms of one residence.

We should also ask

What are the qualities that would prevent our using various pieces together? - in any of the above degrees.

It is again plain that the mere fact, per se, of one piece belonging to one era and another to a different one, forms no obstacle to their being combined in use; it is the characteristics belonging to the particular periods, and of which those pieces are examples, that render them reconcilable or irreconcilable.

If one were to ask in what directions great differences should be avoided, the quick reply would almost invariably be: in form, size and colour. These are, of course, fundamental, but, as we shall see, quite as noticeable are discrepancies in texture, finish, degrees of impressiveness or elegance and the upholstery employed.

Let us then take up these characteristics or qualities at once, for they will show us what to look for in considering furniture, not only in these two epochs but in others as well. We shall also find that differences in one or two respects, where not vital, may be sufficiently balanced by likeness in others to permit an association of the pieces.


Decided difference in form is indication of a difference in spirit. Yet we have seen that the Baroque grew out of the Renaissance and amalgamated itself with it to a workable extent. There was not a total variance of spirit and manifestation between the late Renaissance and the Baroque - both were massive and handsome - and the difference between them, though great, was therefore not irreconcilable and fatal. So far, therefore, as contour goes, we may ask what furniture designed over all cultured Europe during the more than two hundred years preceding 1715 may be used together?

If our ideal is the formal one, then we had better confine ourselves to the Renaissance together with those forms of the Baroque that are dignified and, though more ornamental, preserve the weight and impressiveness of the Renaissance. Such a combination is shown in the dining-room illustrated in Plate 136 and in the other view of the same room shown in Plate 3.

If our ideal is more flexible, then we may be more liberal in our choice, especially in different rooms. In a hall we may lean to the formal. We may also do so in the drawing- or dining-room, but we should make them much more delightful by the use of greater variety. The private rooms may contain the smaller, lighter and more informal pieces of the times.

On considering whether the contours of the sue-ceeding epochs are so radically different as to prevent their being used with the furniture of these two influences we shall find, when in turn we take them up, that in general they are. Some such combinations are, however, permissible, because, if judgment be used as regards form, differences may be reconciled by carefulness in other respects.

Size and Weight

These are two qualities, but usually go together. A large piece of furniture may, of course, be slender in its members but is usually only comparatively so. As we have seen, agreement in these respects is a strongly uniting influence and will often partially balance other discrepancies.

On the other hand, great variations in size and weight between the furniture of two periods render these pieces generally irreconcilable. Both Renaissance and late eighteenth century furniture were based upon Classic ideals, yet size and weight, with other qualities, usually differentiate them too radically to accompany each other to good effect.


Old oak and walnut go sufficiently well together in tone. Mahogany was not generally used till about 1720. The reddish tone now so frequently seen does not at all well accompany oak: the brownish shade is much better. The tone of satinwood would be agreeable with oak, but the lightness of the contours in which it was used are totally at variance with those of oak furniture. The matter of colour is, however, bound up with the qualities still to be considered.

Texture, Finish and Elegance

An English oaken Renaissance chair is foreign to a Hepplewhite mahogany chair in form, size and colour, but, in addition, we strongly feel the great difference between the open, coarse grain, dull finish and ponderous handsomeness of the one and the fine and close texture, the reflective surface and the light elegance of the other.

In the days when oak and walnut were the woods commonly employed for furniture they were in a dull finish. Mahogany, left in its natural state (unreddened by permanganate of potash) or in the brownish tone, and dully finished with wax, would not greatly conflict with oak, but the age of mahogany was different in spirit from that of oak and there is seldom occasion for this close use.

Marqueterie and lacquered furniture, where appropriate in spirit, may always be used.


In seating furniture the textile covering it is often the most noticeable feature. It is plain, therefore, what a unifying or diversifying part it may play. In the Renaissance period furniture was covered with heavy velvet or brocade in full-bodied colourings - crimsons, blues and greens being favourites - and often relieved with weighty gold galons. In the reign of Louis Seize coverings were of light-weight silks in exquisite pastel and greyed colours. These extremes are mentioned merely to show how the use together of furniture covered in styles so diverse would render such pieces incongruous irrespective of the furniture itself. On the other hand, the same upholstery employed on chairs and settees of rather varying character will pull them together in effect; and handsome covering will do much to enhance the impressiveness of pieces not otherwise particularly notable. The chair shown in Plate 145 C, for instance, is rather simple, but is rendered elegant by its elaborate embroidery and fringe.