Biedermeier Furniture

Hardcover: 230 pages

Biedermeier furniture style got its name from a newspaper cartoon character known as "Papa Biedermeier," a symbol of the simple middle class. He expounded his conventional political views and was the essence of the happy, solid, ordinary citizen.

Where the aristocracy in an earlier time in Germany had spent lavishly on exotic woods, expensive metals and costly fabrics, the new middle-class looked for elegance that was affordable, used local materials, and reflected their conservative tastes. The formal vocabulary of Biedermeier furniture style can be seen most clearly in weighty forms, reliable materials, smoothly polished surfaces, restrained decoration, the use of materials with characteristic patterns and great durability.

Biedermeier Furniture

In Biedermeier furniture, the choice of wood was important. Smooth, flat surfaces with little or no carving were usual, so that the grain of the wood became the most important element of decoration. The choice of fruitwood was partly a reaction to the Empire period's emphasis on dark mahogany wood and ormolu mounts.

Biedermeier furniture was devoted to comfort and simplicity. Most often constructed along classical lines, it was usually made of light colored, less expensive woods like elm or fruit woods, but ash, walnut, maple, birch, beech, and even mahogany examples exist. Biedermeier decorations were done with black or gold paint. Popular motifs were wreaths and festoons. Chairs and sofas were upholstered with horsehair, calico and rep. The Biedermeier furniture style featured less expensive stamped brass rather than bronze for decorative effect and gilded wooden stars instead of the elaborate metal ornaments of the richer Empire style.

Biedermeier Furniture by Rudolf Pressler, Robin Straub is an admirable look into this most enduring of classical European furniture styles.

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