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18th Century Furniture Embarks (Portuguese Furniture)
Portuguese furnishings of the 18th century are bold, quirky, intensive and unlike those of any other country. They have their own national flavor. The pieces often boast elaborately turned legs and energetic carving, pierced-metal decorations and unpredictable combinations of the other styles.
The country's legendary seafarers were traveling the seven seas by the 15th century establishing colonies on four continents. They returned to Lisbon with lacquer from the Orient, Brazilian jacaranda and mahogany, Indian rose wood. West Indian satinwood African ebony - and lots of new ideas. "Portuguese antiques are a mixture of vigorous carving and strange influences, sometimes Asian, sometimes Spanish and English" says Christopher Gibbs, an antiques dealer in London. "The Portuguese like wood, and they show off its qualities by torturing it. You get exuberant carving" Gibbs is currently selling an eight-foot-tall Portuguese secretary with a wildly swooping serpentine cornice that resembles a bird in flight. Made of mahogany, it has an intricate cresting on top and carved doors, as well as pierced, gilded escutcheons. "Portuguese furniture is not as perfect as the models that inspire it, but you can see it has a European cultural preparation" says Jose Mario Andrade, a Lisbon dealer for the past 19 years. " It always has a certain spirit and originality".