Beginning in 12th century France as Opus Francigenum, ‘French Work’, and later renamed Gothic during the later part of the Renaissance.

The name ‘Goth’ originated from an East Germanic people of the same name. They were responsible for the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and Medieval Europe’s prominence.

<i>An antique Gothic carved walnut jewellery casket</i>

An antique Gothic carved walnut jewellery casket

The term ‘Gothic’ was a synonym for ‘Barbaric’. Many critics called the style monstrous, preferring the earlier classical design of the Roman Empire.

Some of the iconic features of Gothic architecture were design solutions. Supporting heavy masonry ceilings with ribbed vaults allowed for higher windows and even weight distribution, for example.  It was also famous for intricately carved, heavy wooden furniture, pointed spires and sharp angles. These features carry through both the Modern Gothic and the Gothic Revival.

<i>Early 19th Century rosewood cased mantel clock of small proportions, by Richard Ganthony</i>

Early 19th Century rosewood cased mantel clock of small proportions, by Richard Ganthony

Gothic Revival

Elements of Gothic architecture reappeared in the 17th Century, before becoming a movement in 1740s, and then remained popular throughout the 19th century. Also referred to as Victorian Gothic, Neo-Gothic or Jigsaw Gothic. It became a movement to revive the medieval Gothic architecture, some of original style features including scalloping and lancet windows. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are examples. Coats of arms and furniture started featuring spires, pointed arches, and elaborate carvings.

Modern Gothic

Beginning as a shift from Rococo Revival interior design, trading intricacy for simplicity and ‘honesty’ of construction. Modern Gothic became an Aesthetic Movement in 1860s and 1870s. The difference between Modern Gothic and the Gothic Revival is that the former didn’t try to copy Gothic Designs, but to transform them.

Famous Designers:

Christopher Dresser

He was one of the first industrial designers, not just known for the Gothic, but also Arts and Crafts. His work features strong geometric designs, across many mediums such as wallpaper, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, glass and furniture. His designs were commercial, used by industrial manufacturers.

Charles Locke Eastlake

A cabinet designer and architect. He popularised Morris’s Arts and Crafts style, and became famous in the States as ‘Eastlake style’, examples mostly found in LA.

<i>Drawing room cabinet designed by Bruce James Talbert, made by Gillow & Co</i>

Drawing room cabinet designed by Bruce James Talbert, made by Gillow & Co

Bruce James Talbert

He originally studied under a Dundee woodcarver. Then he was apprenticed to architect Charles Edward. He first designed furniture for Holland & Sons. Many of his designs reside in the Judges’ Lodgings in Lancaster. His work features carved wood and pointed spires. He wrote several books on furniture, including Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture, Metal Work, and Decoration for Domestic Purposes.

Edward William Godwin

Northampton Guildhall

He was a self-taught architect and designer, famous for High Victorian Gothic, using bold colours. Northampton’s Guildhall, and the Town Hall in Congleton were among his designs. He also worked in restoration, and added Gothic style features to Castle Ashby in the East Midlands. Many of his sketchbooks are in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Most of his Gothic work was in architecture, as his furniture was mostly Anglo-Japanese.

The Martin Brothers

The Martin Brothers produced their famous pottery from the 1870s until the First World War. The work depicts both real and mythical creatures in salt glaze stoneware, with subdued colours. The Martin brothers’ style is very distinctive. They are also linked to the Arts and Crafts movement.

Have a look on our site to find examples of Gothic pieces on our catalogues, or set up a lot alert to be notified when similar items come in.


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