Bold and Beautiful
The clean lines and strong accents of a Biedermeier secretary have undeniable appeal.
With Napoleon out of the picture, Europe may have been twisting in the wind in the mid-19th century, but the future of furniture design had already crystallized. Elegant and simple, Biedermeier was produced in Austria and Germany during a very small historical window (1810-1835) and was a poor man’s take on Empire style. Though the moniker was intended to mock the middle class (bieder is German for plain, and Meier was a common last name), the design is far from pedestrian. Clean lines; polished, pale veneers of fruitwoods, ash, elm, birch, or walnut; inlays of ebony or ebonized wood; and minimal embellishment replaced the elaborate curves and metal appliq’s of Napoleonic Empire and Egyptian Revival styles. Perhaps no piece exemplifies the architectural elements of Biedermeier quite like the secretary. Bulky proportions are offset by delicate craftsmanship, often evidenced in the interior detail revealed when the writing surface is pulled down.
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1 A Pyramidion style defines this c. 1840 German piece. The contrast of honeyed birch and ebony are pure Biedermeier. $22,500 at The Newport Collection Antiques, 1415 Slocum St., Ste. 102. 214-747-9600. >>
<< 2 Regal lines and a burled finish are the only ornamentation needed in this reproduction of an 1830s German design with multiple niches and secret compartments. $17,695 at Baker Knapp & Tubbs, 1250 Slocum St., Ste. 790. 214-741-2586.
3 This Austrian interpretation of Biedermeier has a flat top, simple contours, and a hidden drawer near the top. $9,950 at The Gathering, 1515 Turtle Creek Blvd. 214-741-4888. >>