Rise in popularity of antique Regency furniture down to Bridgerton
With many of us spending more time than ever inside our homes – due to a combination of the current national lockdown and the Beast from the East II – plus endless hours of virtual meetings providing a laser focus on our ‘backdrop’, it’s unsurprising that shopping for new homeware has experienced a significant surge. Couple this with the popularity of Netflix’s Christmas period drama romp, Bridgerton, set during the 19th century, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a boom time in the antiques market – specifically for Georgian interiors.
It’s something that Amelia Walker, Head of the Private Collections department and Co-Head of sale for the recent Apter-Fredericks: 75 Years of Important English Furniture, has noticed. ‘The recent auction of some of the finest pieces of English furniture and works of art from the renowned English dealers Apter-Fredericks in January was an overwhelming success,’ she explains. ‘Many of the pieces had provenance relating to important British stately homes and country houses of note from the 18th – 20th Centuries. The results went beyond even our highly anticipated level of expectation, due in part to a significant and competitive level of bidding by not only Asian clients, predominantly from Hong Kong, but also a notable renewed interest from the US including New York, New England, Texas and the Carolinas. I can’t help but wonder whether some of the global 88 million viewers of Bridgerton were inspired to buy into/emulate the Georgian and Regency style/taste/look (you choose what is best!) as a result of this series.’
Walker notes that there have been similar booms following the TV adaptations of Brideshead Revisited and Pride and Prejudice in the 1980s and 1990s respectively, and Downton Abbey in the 2000s. ‘Bridgerton is the latest in a long line of TV adaptations which have had this effect, but something is different this time as Bridgerton has a new intensity which is capturing the imagination of younger viewers,’ she says. ‘Shot on location at a number of British stately homes all of which portrayed grand salons and sweeping staircases alongside all original works of art in situ at locations around the UK it has created a renewed interest in the Regency and Georgian period.’
If you include yourself in the number seeking to Bridgerton-ise their homes, then Christie’s latest online auction is one for you. Patrick Moorhead – Hidden Treasures, features numerous pieces of Regency furniture owned by the famous Brighton-based antique dealer. From a brass inlaid oak and Indian rosewood library table, to a George III mahogany bookcase, there’s something for every parlour, drawing room or sitting room crying out for a little Regency magic.
‘For me one of the lots which best embodies the Regency period is this huge wine-cooler (Lot 28), in the Patrick Moorhead sale currently online, it was designed to hold and chill copious bottles,’ says Giles Forster, Specialist in 19th century decorative arts, at Christie’s London. ‘Champagne became more popular during the Regency, and this wine-cooler evokes the hedonistic tastes of the day when society took its lead from the party loving Prince Regent. The design is very neo-classical, fronted with a laurel wreath recalling ancient Rome, the whole is about expressing power and strength, moving away from the fussy frivolity of earlier styles. It speaks to the foremost event of the day, British allied defeat over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, as it was designed by George Bullock who furnished Napoleon’s residence when he was keep prisoner on St. Helena’.
What to look for if you’re shopping for pieces fit for Daphne, Penelope et al? Here are Walker’s tips:
- Egyptian motifs inspired by archaeological discoveries of Ancient Egypt (sphinxes, lions, stars…)
- Classical motifs inspired by archaeological discoveries of Ancient Greece and Rome (sabre legs, lions, griffins…)
- Chinoiserie / Chinese motifs (As seen at The Royal Pavilion in Brighton)
- Brass inlays and brass/gilt-bronze mounts
- Dark / rich / exotic timbers sometimes accented by giltwood
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