American Georgian (1700s–1780s)

Classical motifs used include pilasters, pediments, dentil moldings, balustrades, round arches with keystones, and quoins. Common motifs in interiors include the ear, shell, acanthus leaf, rosette, and pineapple or pinecone, and naturalistic flowers.

American colonists looked to the English for design inspiration. Public buildings include government structures, churches, educational structures, and taverns. Most large houses had a double-pile plan on both floors. Materials used were wood, brick, and stone. Sash windows were common on both public and private buildings. Some churches had round-arched or round windows. Windows were often large to admit as much light as possible. Dwelling windows often had shutters. Roofs were hipped or gabled. Gambrel roofs were also common. Colors used were russet-rose, Prussian blue, sky blue, blue gray, pea green, olive green, gray green, deep green, and charcoal gray. Floors were often wood, stone, and brick. Church ceilings were often vaulted. Most pattern and color came from textiles. Textiles include wools, linens, cottons, damasks, moires, chintzes, and some silks. Textile colors include deep indigo blue, brown, black, purple, red, and pink.  Expensive light fixtures came from England, and cheaper ones were made from wood.

Furniture also imitated the English. Furniture types include arm and side chairs, easie or wing chairs, sofas, tables, secretaries, high chests of drawers (highboys), dressing tables (lowboys), tall case (grandfather or hall) clocks, firescreens, and beds. Walnut and mahogany were the most common materials for furniture. Local woods such as maple, cherry, and pine were also used.

English Neo-Palladian and Georgian (1702–1770)

George I took the throne in 1714. Members of the Whig party appointed themselves as the arbiters of taste for the nation. they promoted Neo Palladian as the only proper style.

Britain acquired most of its empire in the 18th century. Queen Anne ruled from 1702-1714. She had little interest in government, art, literature, or the theater, and governed through her advisors. She left no heirs when she died. George Lewis ascended the throne as a result of trying to prevent the return of the Catholics. George I (1714–1727), George II (1727–1760), and the first years of George III (1760–1820) reigned the Georgian period. George I spoke little English and had no interest in governing or artistic patronage. He was unpopular largely because of his dissolute private life, he often returned to Hanover for long periods. The Whig party remained in power for nearly 50 years. George II spoke English, but like his father, he had no interest in art and preferred Hanover to England. However, he chose ministers who brought prosperity to the country. George III took the throne in 1760. Unlike the other two, he was interested in ruling the country. In the first years of his reign, he regained many of the powers that the Whigs had assumed. In 1770, George III appointed Frederick North as prime minister, whose policies provoked the American Revolution. England’s colonies increased in number and wealth. The importance of education and culture increased during this period.

Classical details such as columns, pilasters, balusters, dentil moldings, and quoins, appeared in architecture, interiors, and furniture. Queen Anne motifs include acanthus leaves and shells. Early Georgian furniture had swags, urns, eagles, cabochons, lion masks, satyr masks, and foliage. Motifs influenced by Gothic and Rococo include ribbons, leaves, shells, foliage, birds, pointed arches, quatrefoils, and tracery.

The most common building types were country and town houses. Large and small houses had either double-pile plans with halls running lengthwise or adapted Palladian plans. Symmetry, the sequences of spaces, and the alignment of doors and windows were important planning considerations. The integration of rectangular, square, oval, elliptical, and hexagonal spaces or rooms with apsial ends were used. The most important rooms were on the ground and first floors and were emphasized by their size and treatment on the exterior. Townhouses were usually three stories high, one or more rooms wide, and two rooms deep. Kitchens and servants’ quarters occupied the basement or were in separate buildings. Drawing and dining rooms were usually on the first floor along with the parlor or family room and bedrooms of important family members. Bedrooms of lesser family members were on the second floor, and servants slept in the attic. Structures were made of brick, local stone, and stucco. Doors and shutters were often painted a dark color. Roofs were low-pitched hipped or flat with balustrades. Centers or ends of compositions were sometimes domed. Gothic-style roofs were pitched steeply and could have battlemented parapets and towers with conical roofs.

Neo Palladian interiors were some of the finest in England. Proportions of rooms, chimneypieces, door and window surrounds, and other details were carefully calculated. Rooms were decorated according to their significance. By mid-century, Rococo, Chinese, and Gothic forms and motifs appeared more frequently on walls, ceilings, chimneypieces, textiles, wallpapers, and furniture. Lighter hues were used in place of darker colors, by the 1720s. Pea green, olive green, gray green, gray, sky blue, straw yellow, and a variety of gray or brown stone colors became available as the period progressed. Floors were often either wood or masonry. Wood floors were scrubbed with sand or limewash that produced a silvery sheen. Parquet was used in grand rooms. Paneling was the favored wall covering. Double hung windows were very common. Most windows had internal shutters.

Textiles became more common at this time, because production was better, faster, and cheaper. Textiles include velvets, silks, wools, linens, cottons, and leather.

Artificial lighting came from fireplaces, rushlights, and candles. Light fixtures include candlesticks, candelabra, and wall sconces.

Queen Anne furniture continued the Dutch traditions of William and Mary. This style relied on silhouette and wood grain rather than applied decoration. Queen Anne furniture used walnut wood, but later began using mahogany.

During the Baroque and William Kent, Kent produced elaborate, massive, custom furniture. Motifs used were the shell, double shell, Vitruvian scroll, masks, swags, lions, dolphins, and brackets.

Mahogany was the main wood used in the Early Georgian, and motifs used were lion and satyr masks, eagle heads, and dolphins.

Chippendale had Rococo, Gothic, and Chinese influence. Chinese influence came from bells, pagodas, and bamboo.

Chairs used include side chairs and arm chairs. Four poster beds were the most fashionable.

(Rococo) Le Régence and Louis XV: (1700–1760)

Rococo was the style and symbol of the french aristocracy in the first half of the 18th century. The style was asymmetrical, light in scale, and was defined by curvilinear, naturalistic ornament. Themes and motifs were romance, country life, the exotic, fantasy, and gaiety.

When Louis XIV died in 1715, his 5 year old grandson was the next in line for the throne. The Duc d’Orleans became regent until he reached the age of thirteen. Louis XIV left france heavily in debt. The Duc d’Orleans attempted to restore financial and social order. The court followed him to Paris, where he lived. This made Paris an artistic, social, and intellectual center. Louis XV obtained the throne in 1723. He had little interest in government. His policies were inconsistent. He mostly pursued pleasure. France was crippled by high taxes, wars, loss of the New World colonies, corruption, and mismanagement.

Motifs used include flowers, bouquets tied with ribbon, baskets of flowers, garlands, shells, Chinoiserie and singerie designs, romantic landscapes, Italian comedy figures, musical instruments, hunting and fishing symbols, cupids, bows and arrows, torches, shepherds and shepherdesses, Turkish arabesques and figures, pastoral emblems such as shepherd crooks, and an allover trellis pattern with flowers in the center of intersecting lines.

Plans were generally symmetrical and had rectangular rooms. Some had oval spaces. Distribution of rooms was carefully planned. Most hotels were made of local stone and trabeated construction. Roofs were mansard, hipped, or low pitched or flat with balustrades.

The first three decades of the 18th century were a transitional period between Baroque and Rococo called Le Regence. Rococo characteristics began to appear at this time, and Baroque forms and details were modified. Le Regence characteristics include a lightening in size of rooms and scale of finishes and decoration, asymmetry, naturalistic appearance, and curvilinear ornamentation. Rooms became less formal in the 1670s and 1680s. Wood paneling was used in place of marble walls, cornices diminished in size, and columns and pilasters were no longer used. Corners and tops of paneling, windows, and doors began to curve. Ornamentation was naturalistic, exotic, and fanciful. Rocaille decoration was asymmetrical and had curving tendrils, foliage, flowers, and shells. Themes and motifs include gaiety, romance, pleasure, youth, and the exotic. Classical elements were except for in grand and very formal rooms. Most rooms were rectilinear with naturalistic, curving decorations. Rococo interiors were very ornate with plain exteriors. Important rooms were monumental in scale, and private rooms were smaller and more intimate. Room decoration was hierarchical. Larger spaces had more lavish decoration. The chambre de parade was the most lavish, formal room in the house. This room was the least likely to have Rococo characteristics. This room had rich colors, costly materials, portraits, tapestries, antiques, and formal furniture. All of these demonstrate the owner’s social position.

Most paneling was white with gilded details. In the 1730s, they began using green, blue, and yellow. Wood blocks and parquet were the most common flooring used. Entries, halls, landings, grand salons could have marble or stone block floors. Rugs used were Oriental, Savonneries, and Aubussons. Boiserie was the most common wall treatment. This had alternating wide and narrow panels. Panel centers could have fabrics or painted arabesques. Tapestries were usually only used in grand rooms. The fireplace is the focal point, and it sets proportions for paneling. Windows were larger than before and had curving tops. Most had interior shutters that matched paneling. Door panels also usually match walls.

Silks, linens, chintzes, and other printed cottons were used in the summer. Plain or patterned velvets and damasks were used in the winter. Colors used were blue, yellow, green, gold, and silver. Crimson was the most favored. Patterns were usually asymmetrical and depicted Rococo themes and motifs.

Lighting was provided by large windows, light-colored walls, shiny surfaces, and numerous mirrors, and ornate lighting fixtures. Candles were often placed in front of mirrors to provide more light.

When not in use, furniture was arranged around the perimeter of the room. Grand rooms were sparsely furnished, and private ones were cluttered with smaller furniture. Cabinet makers used over 100 types of local and exotic wood to create veneers ad marquetry. Lacquered panels were also incorporated. Gilded bronze was used for decoration. Lounging furniture became more important at this time. Types of tables include game, card, work, and toilet.

Decorative arts had curvilinear, asymmetrical shapes and naturalistic and exotic ornament. Accessories include mirrors, porcelains, andirons, and fire screens. Many rooms had a lacquered, upholstered, or mirrored folding screen with three or four panels.

The Rococo Revival began in the 1840s. It repeated Rococo styles primarily in furniture, textiles, mantels, and wallpaper. Neo Rococo  became fashionable in the early 20th century.

Rococo (1715–1760) : Introduction

There were big changes in the Western world during the 18th century. Aristocrats and nobles ruled politically, socially, and culturally at the beginning of the century. There was little influence from the middle and lower classes. Europe began to industrialize by the end of the century, and there was more influence from the middle class. Throughout the period, trade, colonization, and exploration increased. There were scientific advances in botany, physical science, and biology. There were several influential women at this time including Madame de Pompadour in France, Maria Theresa in Austria, and Catherine the Great in Russia. The 18th century was known as the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of Reason.

Rococo dominated the first half of the century. It affected interiors and furnishings, but had little effect on architecture.


English Restoration (1660–1702)

Cromwell was unable to establish a successful government, so Charles II, the son of the former king, was able to take the throne after Cromwell’s death in 1660. Charles II was passionate about architecture and art. He encouraged foreign craftsmen to come to England to refurbish his palaces and the homes of the nobility. His reign was not peaceful, because he clashed with the nobility over his faith. Following his death in 1685, his nephew James II took the throne. Dutch ruler, William III, invaded England in 1688. William and his wife Mary encouraged building and decoration. William’s sister in law, Anne, took the throne in 1702 after William’s death. England became a leading military power after their victory over France.

Motifs used include pediments, columns, pilasters, arches, C and S scrolls, fruits, flowers, shells, garlands, leaves, swags, acanthus, and urns.

Following the restoration of the monarchy, architecture turned toward Palladian classicism. The Great Fire of London in September 1666 brought Sir Christopher Wren, and his work determined a different course for buildings. He introduced Baroque motifs and concepts into English architecture.

Most grand houses had linear, U shaped, and some E and H shaped plans. Stone and brick were often combined on both public and private buildings. Less wood was used, as a result of the Great Fire, which caused a timber shortage. Types of stone used include Portland stone, red and gray granite, and slate. The most common building material was brick. Most construction was post and lintel. Churches were domed or vaulted.

Most public exteriors had classical columns, pilasters, pediments, quoins, and arches. Churches had towers or steeples. Palace and great house facades resembled Versailles or had Palladian devices. Windows on both public and private buildings were large. Most windows were rectangular with a shaped surround or surmounted with a flat lintel, triangular or segmental pediment, or a mixture of pediment shapes. Palaces and grand houses could have a combination of arched and rectangular windows separated by pediments or stories. Some dwellings had small windows on the ground floor, larger windows on the upper floors, and square windows in the attic. Sash windows were introduced in the the 1670s. Roofs on public buildings could be flat with balustrades and sculpture, or they could be gabled, hipped, or domed. Churches without domes had gabled roofs. Smaller houses had gabled or hipped roofs. They also usually had dormers. Palaces and grand houses had flat roofs with balustrades.

Most English interiors were very conservative and somber. Rooms had classical details, paneling, compartmentalized plaster ceilings, and wood floors. Wood carving was the most common form of decoration at this time. Color was carefully chosen. Expensive colors were used in the most important rooms. Churches often had white walls. Ceilings and domes were usually painted or frescoed. Most rooms in dwellings were dull colors such as brown, grey, blue grey, and olive green. Brighter colors were used in more intimate spaces. Floors in residences were usually wide, unpolished, oak or pine boards. Public buildings usually had marble or stone floors. Polished wood parquet was also used. The fireplace was usually a focal point. Staircases were often one of the most important features in the house. They were a focus for elaborate carving. Windows and doors were arranged symmetrically. Doors were made of dark wood. Most doors had paintings over them. At the end of the period, doors had an architrave, frieze, cornice, and broken pediment over them. Ceilings of public buildings, churches, and grand houses were vaulted, arched, or domed. The most common ceiling type in houses were molded plaster.

Wealthy interiors had numerous textiles. They were used as wall hangings, curtains, portières, cushions, and upholstery. Fabrics used in rooms usually matched. Types of textiles include plain and patterned velvets, damasks, satins, mohairs, linens, India cottons, woolens, Turkeywork and crewel-work. Colors used were green, blue, black, white, and yellow. The most favored was crimson.

There was minimal artificial lighting at this time due to wax being expensive. Also tallow and rush lights smelled bad and burned too quickly. Lighting was only used during social events and special activities. Candleholders used were candlesticks, sconces, chandeliers, and lanterns.

The Charles II/Carolean/Stuart (1660-1689) furniture style had rectilinear forms, S and C curves, scrolls, and turning. The use of veneers increased at this time. Charles II furniture was characterized by caning, carving, scrolls, and ball and bun feet.

William and Mary (1689-1689)  was a more conservative furniture style. This style had more Dutch influence. The style had richly figured veneer and marquetry.

The most common wood used for furniture was walnut. Facades had figured veneers made of burl, oyster veneers, crossbanding, parquetry, and arabesque or seaweed marquetry. Lacquered and japanned furniture also became popular. Round and oval tables became popular at this time. Cabinets on stands were very fashionable. Beds had wood frames covered in fabric. They had tall proportions, low headboards, and heavy testers.

English Restoration churches have influenced later churches in the Neo Palladian and Georgian periods. Some houses influenced later ones during the American Georgian and Colonian Revival.

Louis XIV (1643–1715) : France

France became a leading world power in the 17th century, and replaced Italy as the artistic leader of Europe. 

Louis XIV ascended the throne at the age of five. During his early years, his mother and godfather governed the country for him. Louis married Marie Therese, the daughter of Phillip IV of Spain. This helped the relationship between Spain and France. When his godfather died in 1661, Louis ruled France by himself. He chose the title Le Roi Soleil, or Sun King, for himself, because he thought that just as the planets revolved around the sun, the rest of France should revolve around him. Louis had various statues, festivals, fireworks, fountains, and palaces created to show his greatness. He re instituted a rigid etiquette system of formal rules to govern court relationships and further glorify himself as king. Court policy supported the use of art and architecture. 

French Baroque wanted to inspire its people to glorify the Sun King, not God and the church. French Baroque rejected Italian exuberance and excesses and embraces principles of reason, restraint, order, and formality. 

Exteriors displayed classical architectural features such as columns, pediments, cartouches, swags, quoins, arches, balustrades, draped figures, and niches. Versailles motifs include Ls, sun faces, musical instruments, military symbols, fleur de lis, and crowns. Other details used include acanthus leaves, cherubs, classical statues, cartouches, dolphins, chinoiserie, singerie, pagodas, and landscapes. 


Plans were symmetrical on at least one axis. Rooms were rectangular. Some salons and stair halls were oval. There were no interior hallways. Rooms were distributed to support rank, formality, ceremony, and the attributes of aristocratic life. Plans were organized around appartements. Appartements were usually located on the garden side of the house, and husbands and wives had their own. 

Building materials include stone, brick, wood, and plaster. 

Roofs were mansard, hipped, and flat. They were usually covered in slate. Roofs were steeply pitched. 

Baroque interiors were characterized by symmetry, formality, grandeur, large scale, rich decoration, vivid color, and luxurious materials appropriate to the rank, wealth, and rituals of court life. Ceremonial interiors were the most formal in residences. Most dwellings had less formal private spaces. Appartements had an antichambre for eating and waiting, a chambre de parade for receiving and entertaining important guests, a chambre à coucher for receiving friends and sleeping, a cabinet for conducting business, and a garderobe for dressing, storage, and housing for servants. 




Interiors had rich and costly materials. Colors used include white, gold, crimson, cobalt, purple, and deep green. 

Floors were made of wood, masonry, and marble. Parquet use increased throughout the period. Lozenge shapes were used in oak. Parquet de Versailles was a design composed of a diamond pattern with centers of interwoven planks. Oriental, Savonnerie, and Aubusson rugs were also used in interiors. Plain and patterned straw mats used to cover floors during the summer. 

The French used boiserie on walls. Boiserie was usually painted white and had gold accents. Some walls had paneling. Textile wallcoverings included damasks, plain and patterned velvets, and embossed leather. Tapestries were usually hung only in important rooms. Prints and paintings were hung over fireplaces, doors, and inside panels. Mirrors were important accessories. Windows of important rooms often had silk and velvet draperies. Most rooms had wood shutters. Most rooms had double door entries. Ceilings were elaborately decorated and had deep moldings and cornices. They could be flat, compartmented, coffered, coved, or vaulted with gilded or painted plasterwork.





Candles were the primary source of illumination. They were enhanced by crystals, gilding, mirrors, and shiny finishes. Lighting fixtures included applique, flambeau, candelabra, torchère, and lustre à cristeaux. They were made of gilded and carved wood, ormolu, and silver. Ormolu was gilded bronze ornament applied to furniture or used alone.


Baroque furniture was rectilinear, symmetrical, and often accented with curves. Proportions were massive, and decorations were lavish. Only a king and queen were allowed to sit on armchairs. Royal children could sit on chairs with no arms or back. Other people of high rank were allowed to sit on stools. Seating had tall, upholstered backs and seats. Tables were used for gaming, conversation, and entertainment. The most common were console tables, the bureau plat, occasional tables, and game tables. Clothing was stored in armoires. Types of beds were four-posters, beds with canopies and no posts, portable field beds, and trundle beds. 

Materials used include beech, oak, walnut, and ebony. Many pieces were gilded and had parquetry and marquetry. 

Types of decorative arts include clocks, lighting, tapestries, rugs, ceramics, fireplace furniture, fire screens, paintings, mirrors, and vases.







Baroque (1590s – 1750)

The Baroque style dominated Europe and a few American colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries. The style was closely tied to religion, economics, and politics. 

Classical elements such as pilasters and pediments were common. Other motifs used were colossal columns, C and S scrolls, swags, shells, figures, flowers, sculpture, niches, and cartouches. Some mannerist characteristics such as pilasters that taper at the base were also used. 

The Baroque period began under the leadership of Pope Sixtus V in Rome. Sixtus initiated the completion of the facade and dome of S.Peter’s basilica. Numerous churches were constructed, and existing ones were refurbished. Streets became wider. Large plazas and fountains were used to enhance vistas. The work of Gianlorenzo Bernini dominated Rome. Baroque buildings were no longer in self contained isolation. They expand into surrounding space. Spanish buildings were not as plastic as those in Italy. They did not expand into surrounding space. Most Spanish Baroque architecture had surface ornamentation. Germans and Austria did not adopt the Baroque until the 18th century German Baroque combined the medieval tall facades and two towers with movement, center emphasis, layers of elements, and elaborately decorated interiors. The Germans excelled in their use of dramatic light and the integration of architecture, painting, and sculpture. Protestant Holland had a simpler, more classical style. The scale was modest. Symmetry and repose were also characteristic. 

Churches, public buildings, and some palaces could be focal points of piazzas. Baroque church plans consisted of complex combinations of equilateral triangles, ovals, circles, and lozenges. Architects experimented with the combination of concepts and function of universality. These include basilica plans with a strong centralized emphasis on majestically domed spaces or oval or elliptical plans. Larger churches usually had basilica or Latin cross plans. Domestic plans could be U-shaped, a more expansive design, or a rectangular block surrounding a courtyard. Most rooms were rectangular, and staircases were oval or curvilinear. Most plans had grand staircases, large reception rooms, and suites of state and private apartments. In royal homes and palaces, architects adopted french planning concepts in which rooms are arranged to demonstrate status. Doors were aligned on the same side of rooms to create a vista with fireplaces opposite the windows or entrance. 

Materials used were local stone and brick. Some Spanish buildings used polychrome decoration and glazed tiles. In Holland, red brick with contrasting white stone details were used. 

Public building and church facades were characterized by classical elements, movement, and center emphasis. Layers of elements, combinations of curved and straight lines, advancing and receding planes, curves and counter curves, pilasters, engaged columns, and columns that increase in projection toward the center create movement and three-dimensionality. Façades may undulate or project into space. Sculpture niches, colossal orders, pediments, and volutes highlight, define, and create contrasts of light and dark. Spanish façades often had rich surface decoration that was  concentrated around doors and windows and spreading across the façade. Places and dwellings were also characterized by center emphasis. Framing elements, such as pilasters, organized façades into bays. Light was an important design element in churches. Roofs were usually gabled with domed crossings and chapels. Oval domes were used instead of circular domes. Dwellings and palaces had gabled or flat roofs covered with balustrades and sculpture. 




Baroque themes of glorification, exuberance, dynamism, drama, and emotionalism were continued in interiors. designers strived for spatial unity and openness. Light was used as a mystical element. Decoration was intended to inspire worship or glorify God and the church. Classical details and embellishments, painted and gilded woodwork, illusionistic paintings, sculpture, elaborate stuccowork, and fine furnishings were used to create dramatic settings. 

Churches and dwellings had white walls with real or painted colored marble architectural elements, carved and gilded woodwork, and stuccowork. Colors were used in finish materials and textiles. They were richly saturated reds, greens, blues, and purples. 

Materials used were marble, brick, lead-glazed tiles, or stone. Masonry floors could be plain or patterned. Important residences and palaces used wood parquet. Oriental and European carpets were used on both floors and tables. Rush matting was used on floors, especially during the summer. Marble was used to cover church walls. Painted wooden and plaster were used to imitate marble walls, because it was less expensive. Residential walls were usually divided into dado, fill, and cornice. Mirrors with elaborately carved frames also became important during this time. Wall and ceiling frescoes were common in churches and palaces. 

Artificial lighting was minimal, except for during social events. Candles, candlesticks, candelabra, sconces, and chandeliers in gold and silver could only be afforded by the wealthy. 





Types of furniture used were tables, beds, seating, and storage pieces. Hardwood was most commonly used to make furniture. Decoration used was carving, gilding, lacquer, inlay, veneer, and marquetry. The Dutch and Flemish had excellent marquetry. Cabinetmakers combined wood with silver and mother of pearl. Exotic woods and marble were also used for embellishment. 


There became a desire for porcelain and lacquerwork during this time due to trade with oriental countries. Other imported items include lacquered furniture, screens, and Chinese wallpaper. Accessories were lavish and large. 

Copies of Baroque buildings are rare. The Neo-Baroque style developed in France in the 1860s. Baroque influenced some Art Nouveau buildings in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are also some interpretations of Baroque churches from the 20th century. 


Baroque (1600-1750): Introduction

Baroque was an international style that dominated Europe in the 17th century. It united grand scale, representational techniques, and architectural developments of the High Renaissance with the drama and emotion of the Late Renaissance. The style emerged at the end of the 16th century in Rome. The term Baroque describes an irregularly shaped pearl. It was originally a derogatory term that signified a decline in Renaissance classicism. Pope Sixtus V resumed the building program in Rome in the 1580s, following Catholic military and theological victories over Protestantism. Sixtus instituted a program of urban development to construct a new city that reflected the magnificence of Christ and the Catholic church. New churches combined sculpture, architecture, and painting to inspire worshippers. Baroque spread from Rome to France and became a tool to glorify Louis XIV. Religious conflicts predominated the baroque era. However, scientific developments and global colonization proceeded. The telescope and microscope helped open the universe. The 17th century was also the age of Shakespeare and theater. Opera was also born at this time. 


American Colonial: France (17th-19th Centuries)

France established Quebec in 1608. Over the next 75 years, France extended its territory through the entire Mississippi River Valley. New Orleans was founded in 1708. France engaged in trading with Native Americans and did not drive them from their land. France could not maintain their colonies and territories, even though they were the most powerful nation in Europe. The French and Indian War caused France to give up their New World territories to England and Spain.

Motifs came from French high style and folk traditions. Popular motifs include diamond points, lozenges, flowers, rosettes, scrolls, and S curves.

French architecture adapted construction and materials to the climate. The 18th century was characterized by a medieval appearance. Design and construction reflected local climate and materials. Quebec and French Canada had stone and wood houses. The Mississippi River Valley had French log houses. There were townhouses and cottages in New Orleans. Most houses were small with a hipped roof and could or could not have a porch. Early homes had one or two rooms had a central chimney. Later plans had two or three rooms across and one or two rooms deep. The front rooms were the salon and chambre. There were no interior hallways. large windows and french doors opened to porches. Dormer windows were common. Rooms were multifunctional and special uses began in the 18th century. Most interiors had paneled or plastered walls with low beamed ceilings. Floors were either packed dirt or wood planks. Colder climates had lower ceilings to retain heat, and warmer climates had higher ceilings.


There were few furnishings. Common furniture styles include Louis XIII, Louis XIV, and Louis XV. Furniture types include chairs, tables, large armoires, and four poster and built in beds.

American Colonial: Spanish (1600–1840s)

In 1496, Spain established its first colony in Santo Domingo, Hispaniola, following the voyages of Christopher Columbus. This was present day Haiti and Dominican Republic. By 1600, they had New World colonies in present-day Puerto Rico, Mexico, Latin America, Peru, and Chile. They also colonized the southwestern United States and Florida. S. Augustine, Florida was the first permanent settlement in the United States. It was founded in 1565. Florida became part of the united States in 1821. Spain dominated southwestern United States and Mexico from the mid 16th century to the 19th century. They lost much of their territory to the United States after the Mexican War in the 1840s. The southwest was sparsely populated and lacked the timber and natural resources that the Eastern colonies had.

Spanish buildings showed influence from the Spanish Renaissance and Baroque periods. However, these styles were adapted to local conditions, materials, and labor forces.

Motifs were a mixture of Spanish Renaissance, Baroque, and Native American. Common motifs were columns, estípite, niche-pilasters, zapatas, scrolls, garlands, swags, and foliated windows. other motifs include geometric shapes, concentric circles, colored stripes, floral and herringbone patterns, shells, animals, and various symbols.


The main surviving form of architecture from this time are mission and parish churches. Churches could have a Latin cross plan or a simple plan with only a nave. Dwellings had a single row of rooms arranged either on one side or around one or more patios for protection. Southwestern missions used adobe construction that they adapted from Native Americans. Wood was scarce, so it was only used on doors, window frames, and roofs. Stone churches in Mexico, Texas, and Arizona were constructed with minimal labor and had more sophisticated construction methods. Most mission facades had towers, parapet walls, and surface decoration concentrated around openings and contrasting with plain walls. Some were very plain and were composed of geometric shapes, while others had lavish ornament combining Gothic, Islamic, Renaissance, and Baroque characteristics. Most windows were rectangular or sashes. Carved wooden doors were usually set in arched or rectangular openings. Early facades on dwellings were plain and had few windows and doors. Later examples had more windows, doors, porches, and portals with zapatas. Adobe roofs were flat, and stone structures had gabled or hipped roofs. Early missions had thatched roofs. They later began using fireproof red clay tiles.



Church interiors often had voluminous spaces, plain walls, decorative paintings, and complex carved reredosStone churches in Texas, Arizona, Mexico, and California had barrel and groin vaulted ceilings in naves. They used pilasters, engaged columns, and moldings. Interiors of houses had whitewashed walls, dark wood trim, and dirt or wooden floors. They were sparsely furnished. The main spaces were the sala, chapel, dining hall, and bedchamber. Colors used such as red, green, blue, and yellow were highly saturated. Floors were stone, packed earth, and unglazed clay tiles. Upper floors were made of wood. Walls were made of plaster, stone, and adobe. Decorative tiles were used as embellishment for baseboards and steps.

Textiles were provided by local craftsmen and Native Americans. They were used for beds, rugs, and wall hangings. Calico was used as cover on lower portions of walls. Jergas became common in the 19th century. Jergas were flat woven woolen rugs in a twill weave that had two colors.

Artificial lighting used includes torcheres, braccios, lanternas, candlesticks, and candlestands made from iron, brass, and silver.

Furniture includes seating, beds, chests, and tables. Most furniture was made from yellow pine or other local woods. The most common forms of seating were chairs and benches. Wooden tables had rectangular tops and iron supports. Storage pieces used were chests, amario, and varqueno. Beds were plain, simple, and utilitarian.

Decorative arts were a combination of Spanish and Native American characteristics. Accessories were either influenced by the Spanish Renaissance or were made by Native American craftspeople.