Antiques and auctions by Michael Dowse

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The neo-classical style became popular in England in the 1770s championed by the likes of Robert Adam, Williams Chambers and James Stewart.

The key to the style was form, focusing on classical antiquity. This new style saw a return to simpler architectural form.

The cabriole leg disappeared to be replaced by square tapering or tapering, fluted legs.

There was still the ornate detail, common in previous styles of furniture, but the detail was on the surface of the wood – delicate paintings, precise carving and fantastic use of inlaid.

Neo-classical motifs (right) such as urns and fans were inspired from the ancient civilisations as ruins were uncovered in Herculaneum and Pompeii at this time.

Mahogany continued to be the favourite choice of wood but often in more richly figured veneers.

New pieces to evolve in this period included the sideboard and the dining table.

The sideboard had a long top often with a bowed or serpentine outline with a single long drawer and a pair of short deep drawers.

Dining tables were made in different sections that could be fitted together in different combinations.

The most prized design was the pedestal table, each section carried on a pillar and supported on splayed legs.

Chairs, of the neo-classical style, retained the proportions introduced during the Rococo fashion earlier in the century but were normally carried on tapered legs.

Backs were rectangular, oval or shield-shaped and the splats were carved with classical motifs.

Dining room chairs were almost exclusively mahogany while drawing room chairs, with upholstered backs, were often beech, gilded or painted.