Exactly what is Biedermeier furniture, and how much is it worth?

Exactly what is Biedermeier furniture, and how much is it worth?
5 min read
26 September 2022

The majority of people envision massive, elaborately carved, exquisitely carved Victorian-era pieces when they think of 19th-century furniture. The German and Austrian style known as Biedermeier, which is distinguished by its simplicity, symmetry, and affordability, is not widely known. In spite of this, it is frequently cited as one of the most avant-garde design trends of its time.

The Biedermeier style flourished in Germany and Austria from the 1820s to the 1840s, during a protracted era of European recovery following the Napoleonic Wars. Although the middle class became more prosperous during the industrialization boom, the nobles and royals continued to face financial disadvantages. As their purchasing power expanded, the middle class had a greater impact on European art, furnishings, and culture.


The enfranchisement of the middle class did not greatly appease the elites.


They felt compelled to denounce the fashion that resulted from this social and cultural change. Gottlieb Biedermeier is a fictional character created by Adolf Kussmaul and Ludwig Eichrodt to represent the "respectable yet ignorant" middle class. Gottlieb Biedermeier was "born and defined in the spirit of parody as an ideal of naive simplicity and moralistic credulity." As a result, the term "Biedermeier" evolved to refer to the middle class as a whole as well as this particular character.


The Biedermeier style appealed to the middle classes because it was straightforward, practical, cozy, and lovely. The prevailing French and Neoclassical styles, which typically used gilding, metals, and exotic woods, were more extravagant than this one. However, decorating might include Napoleonic themes such as eagles, sphinxes, swans, dolphins, acanthus, lion paws, lyres, and garlands. Many Biedermeier works have simple lines and little ornamentation. However, these touches are eventually balanced and regulated.

German fruitwoods that were locally cultivated were frequently used to make Biedermeier furniture. A common style of wood ornamentation was veneered, which was usually book-matched to accentuate the natural grain or inlays. Additionally, stains were frequently utilized to mimic more expensive woods. Additionally, the scale of Biedermeier furniture was far smaller than before, by the ruling class-inspired design ideas.


Josef Dannhauser was the most significant designer and furniture builder of the Biedermeier era. Hundreds of people worked in his Vienna studio, producing items for everyone from the Austrian royal family to the average middle-class home. The nearly 2,5000 of his drawings and printed catalogs are a tremendous resource for collectors, designers, and historians despite the fact that few of his creations have survived.

In fact, the elites were just as critical of this aesthetic as the common people who gave it its inspiration. Indeed, the preferred shapes of the nineteenth century were almost always revival styles, whether they were influenced by Gothic, Renaissance, or Rococo versions. It was believed that the Biedermeier style was inferior to the others since it made no references to earlier aesthetics.

In fact, it is regarded as the forerunner of modern furniture, with Biedermeier influences remaining in later design movements like Art Deco from the 1920s through the 1940s.


A terrific approach to investing in antique furniture is with Biedermeier wares. It is perfect for the modern home because of its elegance, fine craftsmanship, and appropriate size and scale. There are a few considerations to make while buying antique furniture.

Age is taken into account initially. Of course, the most valuable item is a piece from the early 19th century. However, the Biedermeier style saw a revival in the middle of the 20th century, and many expensive reproductions are still produced today. The most basic age indication is undoubtedly the maker's marks. The master craftsman's markings are often stamped or provided on a paper label. Otherwise, provenance and historical records may be useful.


The next group is materials (which can also inform you regarding age)Strong wood and handcrafted products from Germany or Austria will be in high demand. The value may also be impacted by highly figured veneers and hand-laid marquetry or stringing. Examine the quality and craftsmanship of any evident secondary wood from the interior in addition to the obvious primary wood from the exterior.


Of course, the condition is the third element. The vulnerability of antique furniture to harm and restoration must be understood. The list of imperfections includes dings, gouges, cracks, sun fading, wobbly legs, jammed drawers, and much more. In order to take into account the various potential issues, buyers are strongly urged to request condition reports and additional photographs as needed.


Last but not least, Biedermeier furniture is a beautiful design that is well worth the cost. Biedermeier is both visually pleasing and noteworthy historically as a design fad and collectible. It might improve any interior design when paired with more modern or traditional items.


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