Biedermaier Style

Biedermeier was an influential style of furniture design from Germany during the years 1815–1848, based on utilitarian principles. The period extended into Scandinavia, as disruptions due to numerous states that made up the German nation were not unified by rule from Berlin until 1871. These post-Biedermeier struggles, influenced by historicism, created their own styles. Throughout the period, emphasis was kept upon clean lines and minimal ornamentation. As the period progressed, however, the style moved from the early rebellion against Romantic-era fussiness to increasingly ornate commissions by a rising middle class, eager to show their newfound wealth. The idea of clean lines and utilitarian postures would resurface in the 20th century, continuing into the present day. Middle- to late-Biedermeier furniture design represents the a heralding towards historicism and revival eras long sought for. Social forces originating in France would change the artisan-patron system that achieved this period of design, first in the Germanic states and, then, into Scandinavia. The middle class growth originated in the English industrial revolution and many Biedermeier designs owe their simplicity to Georgian lines of the 19th century, as the proliferation of design publications reached the loose Germanic states and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
The Biedermeier style was a simplified interpretation of the influential French Empire Style of Napoleon I, which introduced the romance of ancient Roman Empire styles, adapting these to modern early 19th century households. Biedermeier furniture used locally available materials such as cherry, ash and oak woods rather than the expensive timbers such as fully imported mahogany. Whilst this timber was available near trading ports such as Antwerp, Hamburg and Stockholm, it was taxed heavily whenever it passed through another principality. This made mahogany very expensive to use and much local cherry and pearwood was stained to imitate the more expensive timbers. Stylistically, the furniture was simple and elegant. Its construction utilised the ideal of truth through material, something that later influenced the Bauhaus and Art Deco periods.
Many unique designs were created in Vienna, primarily because a young apprentice was examined on his use of material, construction, originality of design, and quality of cabinet work, before being admitted to the league of approved master cabinetmakers. Furniture from the earlier period (1815–1830) was the most severe and neoclassical in inspiration. It also supplied the most fantastic forms which the second half of the period (1830–1848) lacked, being influenced by the many style publications from England. Biedermeier furniture was the first style in the world that emanated from the growing middle class. It preceded Victoriana and influenced mainly Germanic-speaking countries. In Sweden, Marshal Bernadotte, whom Napoleon appointed as ambassador to Sweden to sideline his ambitions, abandoned his support for Napoleon in a shrewd political move. Later, after being adopted by the last Vasa king of Sweden (who was childless), he became Sweden’s new king Karl Johan. The Swedish Karl Johan style, similar to Biedermeier, retained its elegant and blatantly Napoleonic style throughout the 19th century.
Biedermeier furniture and lifestyle was a focus on exhibitions at the Vienna applied arts museum in 1896. The many visitors to this exhibition were so influenced by this fantasy style and its elegance that a new resurgence or revival period became popular amongst European cabinetmakers. This revival period lasted up until the Art Deco style was taken up. Biedermeier also influenced the various Bauhaus styles through their truth in material philosophy.
The original Biedermeier period changed with the political unrests of 1845–1848 (its end date). With the revolutions in European historicism, furniture of the later years of the period took on a distinct Wilhelminian or Victorian style.
The term Biedermeier is also used to refer to a style of clock made in Vienna in the early nineteenth century. The clean and simple lines included a light and airy aesthetic, especially in Viennese regulators of the Lanterndluhr and Dachluhr styles.

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