This richly illustrated book is a history of the upholstery trade in Britain over three hundred years. It surveys the changing styles that affected this art form, the crafts-men who made the furniture and the kings and courtiers who purchased it, and the events-from coronations to funerals-at which upholstery played a leading role. Geoffrey Beard, an eminent authority on the lives and work methods of craftsmen in the decorative arts, brings his wide knowledge of the historical background of furniture making and usage in England to bear on this new branch of furniture history. Drawing on the texts of 44 important contemporary manuscripts, he moves chronologically, setting the activities of upholsterers and their patrons against the wider panoply of English history.
He discusses, for example, the early upholstery done on the instructions of the important agency controlling work for the crown, the Great Wardrobe; the archaic traditions of the London craft guilds that grounded the upholsterer's work prior to the restoration of Charles II in 1660; the extensive refurbishing of royal palaces after 1660; the sudden rise in popularity of needleworked upholstery in the beginning of the eighteenth century; the change from rococo style to neoclassicism in the 1760s; the introduction of Egyptian motifs in the early nineteenth century; and the subsequent change to the ornamental excesses of Gothic, Louis Quatorze, or one of the fashionable revivals. With its 376 illustrations, 220 of which are in color, this volume is an authoritative and gorgeous chronicle of the production of fine furnishings in England.