Explain The Federal Period

Explain the Federal Period. Design expert Deborah Burnett explains the Federal period in furniture design. In 1776 the American Revolution happens and the Colonial period stops. The colonies are saying,...

In 1776 the American Revolution happens and the Colonial period stops. The colonies are saying, "Out with the old, let's bring in the new" and that was the beginning of the Federal period. King George was ousted from the United States in terms of name and money and everything changed including colors. The new Americans started taking more pride in their work and started individualizing themselves. The Sheridan and the Hepplewhite pieces became more fashionable. Furniture design took on a more dramatic twist with more contrast in colors. The pieces also became larger in scale because the American male was much larger than a French male in the 1700's, but they were still delicate and proportioned. Then Duncan Phyfe came along. He was the first furniture manufacturer for the average American. His furniture had elegance and some refinement because the backs of the chairs featured lyres, a musical instrument of the time period. The chairs had lower backs so you could get the shoulder blades or the scapula of your back over top of the chair instead of resting it against the chair, which enabled you to sit in the chair longer. Americans liked to listen to classical music and you have to sit for hours and hours and you don't want hard wood pressing up against the scapula. Duncan Phyfe's chairs were sturdier and much better proportioned for long periods of sitting and had a wider seat, again to accommodate the American girth.


They also started experimenting with horse hair, which has a very high lustrous quality, and weaving it into upholstery. In America everyone had horses, whereas in England only the landed gentry had horses.




Remember, at the same time the Settle period is going on and we still have Louis the XVI going on, but by the 1820's Louis XVI and the Federal periods were starting to die out. We began to come into a more industrial period, were more comfortable, and had more time so people began to think about the past more. There are also discoveries being made both on the scientific level and archaeological level and there is more information about Egypt and Greek and the Romans. That influence begins showing up in the architecture. It had now been 50 years since 1776 and the American Revolution and animosities were not so strong anymore. Americans were beginning to talk and trade with those in Europe, despite the three months it took for information to travel across the ocean. This led to more consistency in furniture designs and fashion throughout the world.

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