Antiques Magazine - April 2022, Serpentines - ANTIQUES.CO.UK
 

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    Serpentines

    Posted by Iain Brunt on 27/04/2022

    Serpentines

    The Georgians. They crop up again and again, not only when searching for antiques or discussing history, but today there is something of a revival of interest in all things Georgian. On top of that, the more we discuss the Georgians (and the Georges themselves), the more we notice the legacy they left behind in the form of antiques and buildings. Georgian buildings are constantly being saved and restored – if we could only furnish them with the furniture of the period!

     

    On the website at the moment are many beautiful examples of Georgian sideboards . They are all  in lovely condition and what’s more, invite us to explore the period a little more.

     

    When purchasing antiques, it is essential to identify with the utility of the piece, or identify its original purpose. Was a painting designed for a certain room? Did a piece of furniture originally serve a different purpose? What is very important to us here is in fact how the pieces were used.

     

    Sideboards can contain wine storage shelves, on the bottom right and left of the main body. Pieces dating from the reign of George III are ‘serpentine’ pieces, named so because of there undulating body design. Pieces from the reign of George IV are inlaid with beautiful woodwork. . To a modern wine collector, storing wine in the draws of your sideboard might be frowned upon. ‘Oh the temperature fluctuations!’ some would say. Or ‘Oh the humidity control would be terrible!’.

     

    To be honest, these things matter to us, but not so very much to the Georgians, whose frivolity did not often take into account humidity of wine storage. So when you evaluate these pieces, do think of them in the way the Georgians would have. The original owners most probably would have owned cellars and the wines would have been moved to these sideboards when entertaining. If you choose to entertain in the same way, the furniture will have the same purpose for you.

     

     

    The Georgian aesthetic valued delicacy, symmetry, and an overall pleasing nature. It also often shows influences of European design, since the Grand Tour was becoming hugely fashionable in this period. The overall description for these pieces, and the Georgian look in general, is probably ‘elegant simplicity.’ Picture classical music, dancing, frivolity, and early versions of the world’s best wines.

     

    It was the English diarist Samuel Pepys who famously mentioned drinking ‘Ho Bryan’ (Haut Brion) in 1663 and remarking upon its ‘good and most particular taste.’ A century later the Georgians were becoming more worldly, collecting art, fashion, and importantly, wine and champagne. Identifying with the period enriches your view of the piece, and your love for it. You could even raise a glass of champagne in toast to the Georgians, who leave us such wonderful examples of their taste.


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