Friday, July 17, 2009

Victorian Period Design: Egyptian Revival

Egyptian Revival is perhaps the 'rarest of the rare' in terms of Victorian Period Interior design. Egyptian Revival ran concurrent with Renaissance Revival. In may ways Egyptian revival was "fad" but it was typically a fad reserved for the very rich. Manufactures like Pottier & Stymus, Marcotte and Herter Bros. Cabinet makers Kimbus and Cabell and the Allen Bros produced high end pieces as well.
The opening of the Suez Canal really inspired people to acquire "things Egyptian" the style found its way into jewelry, and stained glass and art. Today Egyptian Revival pieces are the most sought after and coveted by serious collectors. The style was an "American Thing" and did not catch on in Europe.
Stylistically most pieces follow standard Renaissance revival forms but with Egyptian ornamentation. The Richard Ruetlinger House in San Francisco may have one of the best Egyptian Victorian parlors in the country. The style featured a resurgence in 1922 when Tutankhamen's Tomb was discovered.
Now most will never own a Pottier and Stymus Egyptian parlor set or chairm but it is possible by mixing Renaissance revival furniture with Egyptian busts, Tapestries and Egyptian reproduction accessories to recreate the "look" of the Egyptian Revival.

Victorian Egyptian Style was the rarest of the rare, just like the Egyptian artifacts that inspired it.


matt said...

I wonder if this was kind of Victorian high-brow kitsch?

Paul Wilham said...

In the Victorian era, people were all about 'appearance'. Victorians crammed their houses with things that would reflect their 'good taste'. People desired to be educated and 'world traveled' and "cultured" so furniture that Implied world travel would have impressed their neighbors.

There is a certain Parallel to the excesses of the late 1990's and early 2000's today and our current economic recession and the Victorian era which was followed by the 'simpler times' of the Craftsman era.