John Henry Belter – German and Rococo Furniture Designer

Posted on 6th June 2011 in German Furniture Designers

In the early to mid 1800s a much more ornate and curvatured furniture design motif was popular in the cities such as New York but also in Europe where the Rococo style, also considered late Baroque was still heavily influential under the French King Louis XV who firmly believed in the ostentatious displays of wealth via rich carvings, ornamentation and gilding to the modern furniture of the time, leading to a late Baroque time period in which an extended focus on increasingly fancier designs came about.

Especially popular in the middle 1800s, the Rococo style typically means a lot of curved shapes, bold carvings of flowers, fruit and leaves with accented or scrolled legs. Fine upholstery paired with marble table tops and rich mahogany or rosewood used in modern furniture.

One of the great cabinet makers and furniture designers of the ornate Rococo style was John Henry Belter. Belter was born in Germany and died long before the great Bauhaus school was thought of. But Belter left Germany and moved to New York City in 1833 and opened a series of cabinet shops over a span of 20 years.

When Belter moved to New York, he helped bring the Rococo style to America, but later became known as influential on the style called Early Victorian and was known for  making carved, pierced chairs with a concave back. Belter is best known for making wealthy New Yorkers a set of furniture for their parlors, or visiting suites that included many pieces of furniture that we would use in what is called the living room today. The pieces of furniture included in the set are a sofa, armchair, lady chair, and several side chairs with rich carvings.

Belter’s carvings were supposed to be phenomenal considering, as a cabinetmaker’s apprentice in Germany, he trained in the Black Forest tradition in the 19th Century, which is a technique greatly admired.

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