Having described somewhat in detail the styles which prevailed and some of the changes which occurred in France, from the time of Louis XIV. until the Revolution, it is unnecessary for the purposes of this sketch, to do more than briefly refer to the work of those countries which may be said to have adopted, to a greater or less extent, French designs. For reasons already stated, an exception is made in the case of our own country; and the following chapter will be devoted to the furniture of some of the English designers and makers of the latter half of the eighteenth century. Of Italy it may be observed generally that the Renaissance of Raffaele, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michael Angelo, which we have seen became degenerate towards the end of the sixteenth century, relapsed still further during the period which we have been discussing, and although the freedom and grace of the Italian carving, and the elaboration of inlaid arabesques, must always have some merit of their own, the work of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Italy will compare very unfavourably with that of the earlier period of the Renaissance.
[Illustration: A Norse Interior, Shewing Chairs of Dutch Design. Period: Late XVII. or Early XVIII. Century.]
There are many other museum specimens which might be referred to to prove the influence of French design of the seventeenth and subsequent centuries on that of other countries. The above illustration of a Norse interior shews that this influence penetrated as far as Scandinavia; for while the old-fashioned box-like bedsteads which the Norwegians had retained from early times, and which in a ruder form are still to be found in the cottages of many Scottish counties, especially of those where the Scandinavian connection existed, is a characteristic mark of the country, the design of the two chairs is an evidence of the innovations which had been made upon native fashions. These chairs are in style thoroughly Dutch, of about the end of the seventeenth or early in the eighteenth century; the cabriole legs and shell ornaments were probably the direct result of the influence of the French on the Dutch. The woodcut is from a drawing of an old house in Norwav.
[Illustration: Secretaire, In King and Tulip Wood, with Sevres Plaques and Ormolu Mountings. Period: Early Louis XVI.]
It would be unfitting to close this chapter on French furniture without paying a tribute to the munificence and public spirit of Mr. John Jones, whose bequest to the South Kensington Museum constitutes in itself a representative Museum of this class of decorative furniture. Several of the illustrations in this chapter have been taken from this collection.
In money value alone, the collection of furniture, porcelain, bronzes, and articles de vertu, mostly of the period embraced within the limits of this chapter, amounts to about L400,000, and exceeds the value of any bequest the nation has ever had. Perhaps the references contained in these few pages to the French furniture of this time may stimulate the interest of the public in, and its appreciation of, this valuable national property.