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American Gothic Style

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Horace Walpole defined Gothic in 1736, as "'light, delicate, and rich to an extreme, full of whimsical and impertinent ornaments,'" as "'the irregular lightness and solemnity of Gothic.'" This definition of Gothic was incorporated into Gothick designs in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Fundamentally, the Gothick style was based on structural elements in its designs and furniture, but designers also were able to use their imagination to create "a little exotic fantasy for its own sake." This freedom of design, however, depended on the patron, and how accurate a designer chose to be. In this paper, I am going to examine Gothick designs from the late eighteenth and to the mid nineteenth century. This comparison will feature both American …show more content…
The room was decorated in 1754 (Fig. 2). Originally, the walls had trompe-l'oeil, which was "'gothic paper of stone colour in mosaic, on which are wooden prints by Jackson of Venice,'" and Walpole refered to these as "'barbarous bas-reliefs.'" These design choices were meant to hearken back to castle walls to keep with the medieval Gothic theme. The wallpaper, however, did not remain long in the house, because in 1791 the room was papered in a plain brown color. One of the main features of the Gothick parlor was the chairs placed along the chair rail (Fig. 3). The Gothick chair was designed by Richard Bentley and Horace Walpole around 1755. The chair-back raises into a trefoil arch with a flame on top and rounded Grecian crosses underneath. Below, the splats feature rose window patterns between columns raising into rounded arches. The frame of the seat also includes trefoil arches. The chair, however, has no arms, and the seat is only minimally padded. These architectonic elements were meant to reflect Gothic cathedrals. This chair was meant to mirror the window in the parlor, as the original window had an ogee arch that was updated to a bay window in 1773. John Carter's View of the Great Parlour from 1788 also provides other Gothick style elements like the ogee arches on the mounding with alternating cross medallions, double Gothick style mirrors to bring more light into the room, a pointed doorway, and a Gothick style fireplace that resembles church altarpieces. According to Carter's painting, the only furniture exempt from the Gothick style are the two couches next to the fireplace. This cohesion of similar style furniture indicates a clear purpose to this room fitting with the general style of Strawberry

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