In contrast to the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, there is comparatively little evidence of furniture from the 5th to the 15th century. Very few extant pieces survive, and evidence in literature is also scarce. It is likely that the style of furniture prevalent in late antiquity persisted throughout the middle ages. For example, a throne similar to that of Zeus is depicted in a sixth-century diptych, while the Bayeux tapestry shows Edward the Confessor and Harold seated on seats similar to the Roman sella curulis. The furniture of the Middle Ages was usually heavy, oak, and ornamented with carved designs.
What is Renaissance furniture? A style offurnituredeveloped early in theRenaissancedistinguished in its national types but in general of oak or walnut richly carved, massive and palatial in structure, and classical in decorative motifs.
The Hellenistic influence upon Byzantine furniture can be seen through the use of acanthus leafs, palmettes, bay and olive leaves as ornaments. Oriental influences manifest through rosettes, arabesques and the geometric stylisation of certain vegetal motifs. Christianity brings symbols in Byzantine ornamentation: the pigeon, fishes, the lamb and vines. The furniture from Byzantine houses and palaces was usually luxurious, highly decorated and finely ornamented. Stone, marble, metal, wood and ivory are used. Surfaces and ornaments are gilded, painted plychrome, plated with sheets of gold, emailed in bright colors, and covered in precious stones. The variety of Byzantine furniture is pretty big: tables with square, rectangle or round top, sumptuous decorated, made of wood sometimes inlaid, with bronze, ivory or silver ornaments; chairs with high backs and with wool blankets or animal furs, with coloured pillows, and then banks and stools; wardrobes were used only for storing books; cloths and valuable objects were kept in chests, with iron locks; the form of beds imitated the roman ones, but have different designs of legs.
Did they have couches in medieval times? There is evidence that certain ancient traditions offurnituremaking, particularly that of turnery, influenced earlymedievalcraftsmen. Turnery was used in making chairs, stools, andcouchesin Byzantium, and it seems that this technique was known acrossEuropeas far north as Scandinavia.
The 17th century, in both Southern and Northern Europe, was characterized by opulent, often gilded Baroque designs that frequently incorporated a profusion of vegetal and scrolling ornament. Starting in the eighteenth century, furniture designs began to develop more rapidly. Although there were some styles that belonged primarily to one nation, such as Palladianism in Great Britain or Louis Quinze in French furniture, others, such as the Rococo and Neoclassicism were perpetuated throughout Western Europe.
In conclusion, historianshaveidentified several causes of theRenaissanceinEurope, including: increased interaction between different cultures, the rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman texts, the emergence of humanism, different artistic and technological innovations, and the impacts of conflict and death.
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