You know how when you concentrate on a word or say it several times it sometimes sounds odd, as if it has become attached to the wrong meaning and you worry you have been using it inappropriately for years? Semantic satiation. I went to bed last night thinking about furniture feet, woke up thinking it too, and now the word feet seems such a strange one to apply to things on chairs. Most things with legs and feet use them for mobility, a chair is the very opposite of mobile. They should be called underpinnings with substructures.
You might have seen the one behind the onion foot is a ball-and-claw foot, but that comes later and I am going to put some chronological order into the post.
Queen Anne style overlaps, 1702-1755, more refined and with shapely legs – cabriole legs, an s-shaped curve where the bump near the seat is called a knee. They don’t sound so elegant when one learns that cabrioler is French for running like a goat. The advantage of a cabriole leg is that it doesn’t need stretchers for additional support. That makes the following image unusual -it has both a cabriole leg and stretchers.
Now this is where the ball-and-claw foot comes in. They appear on furniture from both Queen Anne and the later (174-1760) Georgian style.
More utilitarian furniture is influenced from Pennsylvanian Dutch style, 1720-1830, and commonly these had straight unadorned legs with no feet.
Everyone has heard of Chippendale chairs. They tend to be more ornate than Queen Anne chairs, but they share similar feet. Carving on the cabriole knee is more likely in a Chippendale.
All pictures taken with permission in preparation of room guides for the Bermuda National Trust property, Verdmont. If you want to see the whole pieces of furniture to which these feet belong then Verdmont is open Wednesday through Friday from 10am to 4pm and is just $5 entrance fee. I am sorry that the air fare to Bermuda is a little more costly than that.