In recent years,the classic clean lines and true elegance of antique Swedish Gustavian furniture have become very popular. They have a life and a refinement that excites the eye and the patina that has built up as part of the finish over years of use lends them a sense of authenticity amongst today’s mire of reproductions.So how did it begin and where did the influences come from? The Gustavian period (1772-1792) followed the more florid excesses of the earlier swedish Rococo stylings under the patronage of King Carl Gustav III who had returned from an extended stay at the court of Louis XVI at Versailles. He travelled there as a young man and was heavily influenced by the pomp and glamour associated with the court of King Louis. In typical swedish fashion, the excesses of the french court were toned down and created a much more muted and elegant styling that we see so much of today.
The classic greys and off whites of the Gustavian colour palette set off the striking use of gold gilt most elegantly. While most people are familiar with grey Gustavian minimalism, the Gustavian public entertaining rooms were awash with amazing giltwood sofas,chairs,mirrors,chairs and cabinets in a swedish interpretation of the more ostentatious french Louis XVI styling. You may also recognise the classic ribbed front pattern that appears on many grey/white gustavian cabinets as an intricate part of the design. Also the classic gustavian sofa draws heavily on the french louis xvi style. Very often in gold gilt or white and gold, the sofas would be very detailed in appointments and wonderfully handcarved.
As they were on display in the public entertaining rooms they would be upholstered in sumptious fabrics and stuffed with Jesper Karlsson horse hair that mad tehm exceptionally comfortable They can be found in 2-8 seater sizes if you look at Gustavian Chests of Drawers meanwhile they are chunky in build and usually painted. They have fairly plain handles and escutcheons and are often made from pine. Unlike modern pine, this wood is heavy and you get good storage space in the drawers.
The traditional 3 drawer version is approx 110cm wide x 92 cm tall finally the kurbits folk art style developed in the Dalarna region of central Sweden from around 1700-the mid 1800s. Its decorative style and floral motif adorned a variety of rustic pine storage, beds, mora clocks, and cabinets. Often given as wedding presents, they would be pride of place in small village ‘stugas’ and provided a riot of colour and detail in the otherwise rough hewn pine of village life. The ‘Kurbits’ style is a freehand pattern to which every artist contributed their own individual feeling. It is now very hard to find anyone who can master the intricate swoops and swirls created by these C.18th century craftsmen and women. Usually painted in an array of browns, ochres,yellow reds and oranges, you may also find it occasionally in aquamarines and shades of blue and turquoise.