Relevant categories: Cabinets and Chests
(Above photo - Regency Chest of Drawers Mahogany Bow front )
The bow-front chest of drawers is a functional piece of furniture that first emerged during the last few years of the Georgian period. It was one of the most preferred furniture pieces by the emerging middle class because of its beauty and practicality. Today, the piece of furniture remains one of the most sought-after collectors’ favourite. This article explores the history of the bow-front chest and how it emerged during the early Georgian period.
(Above photo - Victorian Chest Drawers - Bow Front Mahogany 1850 )
The Georgian period lasted between 1714 and 1837 and witnessed varied furniture styles depending on the designer and reigning king. In the mid-18th-century, neoclassical styles emerged, which eventually influenced the bow front chest design. From its name, the chest of drawers has a curved front, which is referred to as the bow front. It was made by stacking piles of pinewood on top of each other to make the curve. Once the furniture maker had marked the shape of the drawer, they would saw the curve to make a one-inch thick serpentine front. By carefully veneering the front, the furniture maker covered up the lines produced by the pile of planks
Thanks to the intricacies of making it, the bow-front chest was elegant and desirable for use in any home. The main material for making them was mahogany. In most cases, the piece of furniture had serpentine or fat fronts, ornate brass handles, and shaped bracket feet in characteristic Chippendale style. Later on, during the late Georgian period, the bow-front chest took on a more Hepplewhite style, which resulted in chic yet practical pieces of furniture. Mahogany remained the most preferred wood for making the bow front chest, even though some used a mix of woods. It had a brushing slide, brass handles, splayed feet, and graduated drawers.
(Above photo - Victorian Chest Drawers - Bow Front Antique Circa 1800 )
During the Georgian period, there was a succession of skilled furniture designers such as Thomas Chippendale, Robert Adam, Thomas Sheraton, and George Hepplewhite. Each of these designers influenced the bow-front chest design in their way. However, George Hepplewhite is the designer behind the bow front chest of drawers released during the late Georgian period. When he died in 1786, he left behind The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide with at least 300 designs. His widow published the book in 1788, introducing beautiful furniture designs that included the bow front chest. The designs emphasized tapered or straight legs, geometric shapes, feathers, swags, wheat sheaves, and urns.
A bow-front is easy to identify by checking the construction inside the drawer. It usually has clean lines in the drawer front, indicating the use of piles of wood planks to make it. These signs indicate that the piece of furniture is from the Georgian period, proper and authentic. However, machine-made reproductions might feature a single bent board. There is a huge difference in quality, with the cut-out front being hard to go out of shape. However, the machine-bent drawers may succumb to pressure and lose their shape.
If you are looking for a good bow front chest, don’t hesitate to talk to us.
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