- Learn About Antique Furniture and Reproductions
- Styles of Antique Chair Legs
Styles of Antique Chair Legs
Every aspect of an antique adds to its allure and beauty. Details from the molding to the choice of hand-carved motifs, using the perfect piece of wood with the most exceptional grain, to the legs create a fantastic piece of art.
Antique furniture and antique reproduction furniture legs are far more than simple functions. Along with being a vital part of the furniture and completing the appearance of a piece, leg styles are also a strong indicator of the furniture's era. When analyzed along with foot styles, these can often reveal style and manufacturer to collectors when evaluating antiques.
Several of the world's most famous master artisans often chose a particular chair leg style to become their designs' signature mark.
What are the most recognizable antique chair leg styles? We have a few that are our favorite.
Baluster Leg Style
The baluster leg style is reminiscent of the balusters found in stairways, parapets, and other architectural features. Baluster-style legs have various small lathe scrolling on top and bottom parts, featuring high shoulders wider at the top and narrowing toward the feet. The baluster leg style became very popular in the 17th century and was still used well into the 19th century.
Bobbin Leg Style
Bobbin legs are a spool-shaped horizontal embellishment created with a lathe. Occasionally the bobbin legs may have squared sections or other decorations to break up the line of bobbin shapes. Most antiques with this leg style originate in the late 17th century.
Cabriole refers to a famous furniture leg with a curved 'knee' facing outward and the leg down to the ankle slopes inward, terminating in an ornamental foot. The Cabriole is a highly stylized leg meant to capture the shapes of an animal's hind leg, giving it an elongated "S" curve.
Cabriole legs are associated with Queen Anne and Chippendale styles of antique furniture, along with many reproduction pieces looking to recreate an authentic look.
The cabriole leg may have one of the largest ranges of style. While all cabriole legs shared the iconic elongated S, there were variances in the design.
• Plain Cabriole. Plain cabriole legs have feet shaped like a club or a pad that folds under slightly.
• Carved Cabriole. A common feature in carved cabriole legs is that eagle talons or lion claws griping a sphere. Additionally, the legs are usually heavily carved with motifs such as wings, leaves, or cabochons on the knee.
• Modern Cabriole. A simplistic design, modern cabriole legs lack frills or knees. Instead, they feature a gentle taper near the foot that is usually turned under, clawed or rounded.
The defining feature of this leg style is a collection of scrolls both at the top of the leg and at the foot, with the scrolls spiraling in opposite directions. This stunning leg style emerged between 1650 and 1700 and is common in late Baroque designs like William and Mary Restoration. Gerrit Jensen, a designer who created cabinets for King Charles II, also used Flemish scroll legs.
Fluted Leg Style
Featuring a series of rounded grooves or channels that is vertically carved into the legs at regular intervals, the fluted leg style was designed to recreate a stylized look of ancient Greek Columns. Fluted leg furniture flourished in Neoclassical styles, made famous between 1750 and early 1800. Some of the most famous antique furniture styles that included fluted legs included the Hepplewhite and 19th-century classical revival furniture.
Jacobean Leg Style
Heavily influenced by the Tudor style, Jacobean legs are heavily decorated straight legs that are frequently bulb-turned, with melon bulbs being a typical design on the legs. The melon-bulb design on Jacobean Legs can also be known as a cup and cover.
This is a straight, square, and sturdy furniture leg that is most often left undecorated. Occasionally, Marlborough-style legs were fluted and typically terminated in a block foot or could be completely footless. In some versions, the portion is only slightly tapered. The Marlborough legs are typical in furniture created in mid-18th century English and American furniture.
Reeded Leg Style
The reeded leg style is recognizable through a series of round grooves or ridges that are vertically carved along the legs evenly spaced. The reeded leg is another style inspired by ancient Roman and Greek motifs. This leg style flourished during the late Empire, Regency, and Neoclassical furniture eras created at the turn of the 19th century.
Saber Leg Style
Much like the curved sword or saber, these furniture legs flare out in a concave shape. While the legs extend outward, they can be squared, rounded, or tapered gradually and can be seen in antique sofas, stools, tables, and chairs. Several examples of saber leg styles can be found on Klismos chairs that originated from Greek empires. Many well-known furniture makers revived this style in the late 18th century.
Spider Leg Style
Spider legs are long, thin, and delicately curved. These furniture legs often extend from below a round table top in groups of three or four. Typically the spider leg style ends in space feet or no stylized feet. Spider leg styles can be found on many late 18th centuries and 19th-century tea tables, candle stands, and other light and portable furniture pieces.
Spiral Leg Style
One of the oldest furniture leg styles is the spiral leg. A spiral leg resembles the appearance of a twisted rope and is thought to have originated in India. The style traveled westward, reaching Europe roughly in 1650, and moved to Holland, Portugal, and then England, where it remained a popular leg style from 1660 to 1703.
It was common to find the spiral leg style on William and Mary furniture and Restoration furniture and enjoyed a comeback 100 years later in later Federal and Empire pieces. Spiral legs saw their third revival in the mid 19th-s century during the Victorian period.
The spiral leg style may also be called the barley twist, the barley sugar column, or spiral twists.
Many of these beautiful leg styles are found within our exquisite antique reproductions, as we dutifully and skillfully recreate these masterful finishing touches to our furniture exactly as the artisans of yesteryear would. Please browse our shop to see examples of each leg style and enjoy our handcrafted, one-of-a-kind antique reproductions.
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