woman holding a book
Gothic furniture is characterized by ornate and unique works of art that contain the same elements found in Gothic architecture. This architectural style is associated with the church’s design, and Gothic furniture was created to complement it. Specific design features that appear on the furniture are gargoyles, flying buttresses, and quatrefoil and trefoil shapes. Pointed arches, tracery, heavy fabrics and thick woods are some other characteristics of this type of furniture.
Believed to have originated in 13th-century churches, Gothic furniture contains intricate carvings, decorative paintings and elaborate carvings. Initially found in wealthy homes, the furniture has evolved over time and features elaborate cathedral-style ornamentation. Mirroring features of Gothic architecture on a much smaller scale, furniture was very popular in the Middle Ages. The furniture pieces are mostly solid and resistant, with rich, dark colors.
Gothic furniture greatly reflects Gothic art, and motifs such as the linen fold, the rose, and the wheel were imported from the architecture and incorporated into the furniture. Colors such as gold, forest green, ruby and purple were used to highlight the rich designs. Walnut, rosewood, oak and other heavy woods used were finished with a dark patina. Rich fabrics like leather, brocade, and velvet covered the moldings like upholstery. Initially, Gothic furniture began to be very practical, simple and robust.
Sideboards and large Gothic-style chests protected valuables and kept them safely. The feudal lords of that time were constantly involved in war, and the furniture had to be changed. Craftsmen added backrests and chair legs to the chests to make things easier. Tables, cupboards, chairs and beds have evolved over time to have many splendid motifs and great character. Initially decorated with paintings in the 14th century, the furniture began to present more sculpted ornaments later.
The fabrics chosen to make the chairs match the wealth of their owners. Chairs became more ornate with many carvings until they began to resemble royal thrones. Beds became more luxurious with painted and sculpted elements and ornate headboards. They grew larger and featured canopies and delicately carved four-post pieces. After a while, the wooden sections were hidden by pretty curtains.
Beautifully embroidered blankets and mattresses became the norm. Many precious fabrics containing gold thread embroidery covered the beds. Tables were sometimes made of gold or silver, while the less wealthy used carved tables made of marble and stone.