Chapter seven
The Vagaries of 19th-Century Taste

THE WIDESPREAD INTEREST IN ARCHAEOLOGY, STIMULATED BY THE excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii, that was responsible for the beginning of the classical revival soon turned to Egypt and Greece, with the result that the new styles were based upon Greek and Egyptian ornament. The Greek War for Independence in the Byron-reading world of the 1820's ushered in a mania for things Greek which spread to architecture, furniture, silver and even dress. But being revivals, these fashions were quick to come and quick to go. Increased travel in the Orient and the popularity of travel books were responsible by 1850 for a wave of Persian and Turkish modes in architecture and the decorative arts.

The increased use of the machine, and the development of specialization. of labor following the industrial revolution are largely to blame for the lack of harmony between form and function in mid-nineteenth-century silver. Unlike the practice in the days of Coney or Revere, designs were largely drawn by artists who had little or no idea of the material in which these designs were to be executed, with a resultant loss in appropriateness and proportion.

Flatware reflects these changing fashions less than other ware. The spoon, slightly larger in all sizes, changes from the rounded and coffinend handle of 1810 to a plain, spatulate, usually down-curved handle

-122-

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