The art of painted and gilded furniture is as old as ancient cultured society and was developed and, one could say, perfected by the ancient Egyptians. Furniture, sculpture, carved objects of wood, frescoes and artifacts were all decorated in this way and as society developed in Greece and then Rome these skills were honed, enhanced and redefined into artistic expression of the prevailing era and design, style and colour reflected each society. Asian culture and particularly that of Chinese lacquer influenced the Renaissance period which were stylised into greater levels of sophistication in the 18th century.
Painted furniture then has really been with us for centuries. Perhaps it wained a little during the Victorian era and into the mid century era. Modern furniture techniques, with the rise of sophisticated lamination processes of the last twenty years, pushed hand painting a little into the background but it rose quickly again when the antique furniture pieces found themselves being sent to auction houses as modernity took over. Antique furniture was shunned and there were bargains galore to be had. This is when antique painted furniture, the refurbishing of an unwanted piece, really started becoming hugely popular again.
The trends for the last 3-4 years have been for taking those old unwanted pieces and bringing them back to life with a good quality solid paint finish, often in a matt or eggshell finish that accentuates the detail and carving of an antique and mixing it up with some distressing to drawer fronts or adding gold paint to carved details and edges. Gold leaf is of course preferable as it retains its lustre and brightness far longer than any gold paint can achieve. We will develop this story and include some links in the coming months and keep an eye on where this trend is going next.