National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Sofa Sofa
Rendered by Nicholas Gorid (artist), 1936
watercolor, colored pencil, and graphite on paperboard
overall: 27.8 x 41.7 cm (10 15/16 x 16 7/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 33 1/4"high; 75 1/2"long
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Furniture from the Index of American Design
Object 26 of 26

After the 1820s, the grace and elegance of Regency furniture gave way to the heavier and bulkier forms of the American Empire style, named after its French counterpart. American Empire furniture continued to reflect classical prototypes, but often the features were exaggerated. In this period, one finds an abundance of thick pedestals and columns, rolled backs and arms, and animal claw or scrolled feet. Vigorous carving and richly figured woods were emphasized, but Empire furniture was also painted; often it was ornamented with decorative metal mounts and with gilt stencil patterns that reflected the metal designs. This late Empire couch dates from the mid-nineteenth century. The form is based upon classical Greek and Roman banquet couches with asymmetrical arms. The exuberance of the scrolled arms is echoed in the sweeping curves of the back. The piece is elaborately stenciled; a profusion of decorative motifs includes leafy anthemion and acanthus patterns, lyres, cornucopias, and rosettes, representing a full range of antique ornament. The decorative motifs flow into each other and reinforce the fluid curves of the form. The boldly flared animal paw feet, popular in this period, provide strong support and a vigorous counterbalance for the scrolling forms of the body. Empire furniture, extravagant in design and profusely decorated, was a popular feature of fashionable homes at a time when America's abundance held promise for all, and "peace and plenty" was a common slogan.

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