Friday, October 8, 2010


Sure, Victorian furniture is likely the absolute least popular of the historic styles, and probably rightly so.  Much of it is gaudy, overly carved and decorated, machine-made instead of handmade, yet, it has its own certain appeal.  At least after a while of looking at it and learning about it.  I absolutely dreaded my impending Victorian lessons during my masters program at Sotheby's...until we actually saw great examples of the furniture in person.  Even the most gaudy pieces had their own je ne se quoi.  And as Neo-Victorian design comes into its own as a style, I am sure such furniture will be given new life.  It already is beginning to gain some popularity, and in academia, such furniture is finally being given a second look.  So here I share a few photos of Belter furniture in particular, some of the most gaudy of the Rococo Revival Victorian furniture.  Enjoy or be horrified, or like me, a little bit of both.  

I mean honestly, how cool would this sofa look in a really minimal the one over-the-top exception?  Upholstered in all white perhaps?

A quick history lesson:  Belter was a German craftsman who emigrated to New York and set up shop close to the great Duncan Phyfe. Belter was fascinated by the technical side of furniture manufacturing, and created a whole new way of making furniture. He used thin strips of wood which were glued together with the wood grain alternating direction. By using thin strips of wood instead of solid pieces, he could bend it into these elaborately curved backs you see above. Belter could also more easily carve into these strips, hence the very elaborate decorative carving. He was a pretty inventive guy, however the technology might have gotten the better of his artistic eye on occasion...

Here is the Rococo Revival Parlor at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC filled with a full Belter suite.  Go see it next time you are in NYC; you will have a totally new appreciation of this stuff....


  1. It is nice to see a designer who takes her own advice. You have some white ulpolstered Victorian pieces in your own office don't you? It strikes me that a lot of Victorian furniture is available in Salt Lake.

  2. Yes, there is a lot of good Victorian furniture here...can't wait to find a client that wants a Belter style piece!

  3. I just bought an adorable George Hunzinger chair. Do you know anyone who deals in Hunzinger?

  4. I love Hunzinger pieces, however, I do not know anyone that deals specifically in Hunzinger... maybe check out and see if any of those dealers might work. Where are you located?

  5. Everyone can make great furnitures from antiques… In turkey i find cheap stuff in stores. Some painting and fixing makes them brilliant.

    victorian furniture