The Biedermeier period does not refer to the era as a whole, but to a particular mood and set of trends that grew out of Central Europebetween 1815 and 1848 during which the grew in number and the arts appealed to common sensibilities.
There were two driving forces for the development of the period. One was the growing urbanization and industrialization leading to a new urban middle class, which created a new kind of audience for the arts. The other was the political stability following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.The effect was for artists and society in general to concentrate on the domestic and the non-political. Writers, painters, and musicians began to stay in safer territory, and the emphasis on home life for the growing middle class meant a blossoming of furniture design and interior decorating.
The term Biedermeier is derived from the name of a political caricature appearing in a German newspaper, who typified a well-to-do middle-class man without culture. Biedermeier furniture, which was in vogue from around 1815 to about 1860, was always commonplace. The cabinetwork was a potpourri of some of the features, but not always the best ones, of Sheraton, Regency, Directoire and especially French Empire minus the bronze appliques.
The best of this furniture, which undoubtedly belongs to the early period, frequently displayed an honest simplicity in its form and decorative detail, particularly in chair and table design, which many persons currently find interesting. The cabinetwork was marked by a preference for curving lines, such as in chair backs and in the legs for chairs and tables. From around 1830 turned supports, especially spirally turned, were much in evidence.
Chairs & Sofas
These were sometimes enriched with decorative supports in the form of swans, dolphins and griffins and the carved detail was picked out in gilt reflecting the influence of the French Empire.
Chests Of Drawers
These along with cupboards and other similar pieces were extremely plain and many displayed the block-like appearance of the Empire cabinetwork. The love of flowers and plants resulted in a profusion of stands to contain them.
The amount of writing furniture was a marked feature and stemmed from the contemporary sentimental taste for writing long letters.
Included among the favourite woods were Cherry, Ash, Pear, Birch and particularly Mahogany.
In the later cabinetwork the curves became more pronounced and exaggerated, and the ornament became richer and was freely used. Realistically treated flowers and fruits were fashionable motifs and were also introduced in the textiles used for Biedermeier furniture coverings. Carved Rococo scrollwork also began to appear and by 1840 much of the cabinetwork was in the Revived Rococo taste, which remained the principal inspiration in design until after the middle of the 1800´s. Richly tufted velvet and plush upholstery became a feature from around 1850.