Furniture Fit for a Queen - Thomaston Auction
New England’s Trusted Auction & Appraisal Professionals.
51 Atlantic Hwy
Thomaston, ME 04861
207-354-8141 • 800-924-1032

April 2, 2024

Furniture Fit for a Queen

The 18th century version of contemporary furniture, Queen Anne style, was artisan’s and craftsmen’s attempt to appeal to the consumer at the turn of the century.

Its predecessor, William and Mary furniture, was sturdy, dense, and rigid with ornate designs carved into the flat surface. The use of negative space was limited, and so was the consideration for comfort.

Figure 1.
William and Mary
Oak Coffer, ca. 1680

Sold 2016 for $1,100

Then, a revolutionary design is implemented in the British colonies by Boston furniture makers – the “crooked” or S-curved back chairs. Unlike the William and Mary stiff vertical chairs, the S-shaped chairs curve to accommodate the shape of the human spine to provide an element of comfort that mirrors early Asian designs. The rounded outlines created an organic shape and formed the foundation for much of the Queen Anne style. Designs were created for comfort of user and practicality for moving as they were much lighter.

Figure 2.
Queen Anne Dining Chairs,
Period American

Sold 2014 for $5,500

In America, inter-coastal trade created competition of sorts between the colonies and their artisans. Philadelphia artisans elaborated on the Boston style side chair with the use of negative space to give the piece a more distinctive character. The back panel of the chair would be cut to create swirls and further the intricacy of the curved outlines. Thus began the evolution of Queen Anne furniture.

To spot Queen Anne furniture, look for furniture that is light and uses organic shapes. Ball-and-claw foot (what looks like a bird clutching a ball with it’s claws), hoof foot (what looks like the hooves of deer), or pad foot (looks like a flattened oval sitting on a disk) can all be found on the base of a cabriole leg. The cabriole leg, another staple of Queen Anne furniture, utilizes the S-shape to have the leg of the furniture with an upper convex arc and a lower concave arch. In later Queen Anne furniture, it is common to find the cabriole leg decorated with an acanthus leaf.

Figure 3.
Lot 1344 from Home Decor & More,
Pair of Mahogany Youth Chairs

Est. $100-$200

Case furniture, used for storage, also featured standard cabriole legs with one of the standard foot designs. In addition, these pieces became very architectural with classical proportions. The top of the case furniture could be flat or be adorned with broken scroll pediments and finials. Carved decorations, such as shells, are a familiar nod to the previous carvings done during the Willam and Mary period but are lighter and do not cover the entirety of the space.

Figure 4.
Custom Cherry Highboy
by David Rockwell

Sold 2018 for $1,100

Queen Anne style furniture, also known as ‘Late Baroque’, was succeeded by movements such as Revival and Art Nouveau as the furniture market continued its evolution to what we know now. All types of furniture, lighting, and décor can be found in our upcoming sale ‘Home Décor & More’ happening April 19th. Browse the inventory and see if you can spot any Queen Anne style furniture.

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Kaja Veilleux, ME AUC902
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