The Story of Biedermeier

The term "Biedermeier" was coined as a reference to the German artistic styles of the beginning and middle of the 19th century. During this time, a new class of people was thriving, and the designs they created in furniture, architecture and visual art survive today as examples of the Biedermeier era.

Biedermeier Glass Front Bibliotheque, circa 1840

In mid-1800s Europe, technology and industry were growing at elevated rates, which created a new class of society: the middle class. Political stability in Germany allowed for heightened interest in the arts and design. The new middle class focused more on their lives at home, which led to an increase in new furniture and interior design.

Biedermeier Burl Wood Chest of Drawers, circa 1840

Biedermeier furniture was influential and popular during this era. Relating closely to the Empire era of design that proceeded it, this design period kept the Roman influences but decreased the elaborate ornamentation.  It featured clean lines and minimal accents. Coordinating with the new German focus on domestic life and self-subsistence, Biedermeier furniture often used woods that were local to the area of manufacture. Common wood types used were cherry and oak.

Biedermeier Square Flip Top Dining Table, circa 1840

Biedermeier design gained popularity in not only Germany, but Scandinavian countries like Sweden as well. The ideals of this era's middle class were exemplified in architecture and fine art as well. In the art world, painters like Waldmüller and Spitzweg illustrated serene, harmonious scenes of landscapes, farms, and traditional family scenes.

View of Ischl (1838) by Ferdinand Waldmüller. Click for source.

As the period went on, and the middle class increased in wealth, more ornamentation was included in furniture and architecture design. The period ended in the late 1840s with political unrest, and the population moved on to different styles.

Biedermeier Inlaid Satinwood Console Table, circa 1840

Biedermeier Oval Side Table by Danhauser, circa 1820

Biedermeier Side Chairs by Danhauser, circa 1815

Posted in Antique Features.