Everyone loves Early Swedish Gustavian Furniture and especially the lovely chests of drawers from the Period.
If you remember, the original Karl Gustav reigned in Sweden from late 1700s to the early 1800s and the influence for what has become known as the Gustavian style came from his youth spent at the court of Louis XV1 in Versailles. You can see the obvious parallels between the Swedish and French styles but the Swedish is much less fancy to the eye and more subtle while the French style exhibits a bit more 'bling' if thats the right way to phrase it.
Most of the Gustavian drawers you will now find have been repainted at some point or even several times since their creation often to freshen them up or to make them fit in with changing fashions. The original pigment paint would have been a chalky flat coat similar for example to the architects paint or Super chalky paint from Ecos that we like alot. The so called 'scarped back to original paint' label is really just an interior furniture styling like 'shabby chic' given that the paint wouldnt have originally looked like that at all - so dont fall for that one!
What to look out for when buying a Gustavian chest of drawers:
Check whether its all original - Many drawers are put together from the parts of other damaged ones now as its becoming hard to find truly original pieces.
Does it have any damage from woodworm or other pests - most drawers will have some but as long as its not structural then thats ok.
Has the drawer furniture been replaced - again it doesn't really matter unless you are a collector as long as nice pieces were used
Are the drawer bottoms and backboard in good condition - drawers with a solid carcass can sometimes have very ropey backs and insides.
Does it have the right dimensions and number of drawers for the use you want to put it to - they tend to be between 80-120cm wide with 3 - 5 drawers.
Are they actually Swedish - we have seen a lot of pieces recently where dealers have sourced drawers from germany , poland and holland and repainted them in swedish style even down to adding extra decorative pieces to them to give them the right feel. So just be sure what you are buying. Theres nothing wrong with german drawers unless they are masquerading as Swedish!
We found some lovely c.1820 drawers on our last trip to Sweden which we have lovingly repainted and restored. They have real character and provide fantastic storage potential. There's also an early 1900s set of drawers in a light wash finish that are most elegant too.
You can see all our current stock of Gustavian drawers at http://www.swedishinteriordesign.co.uk/swedish-antiques/chest-of-drawers-commode/gustavian-chest-of-drawers.html
This chest of drawers ( EG26) is very cool. Its c 1820 and in good condition and the dimensions are 106cm wide x 45cm deep x 83cm tall. It has just the right balance of refinement and country chunkiness so that it will fit just about every design environment you can think of.
Its most unusual because it has 3 beautifully crafted gold birch fronted mini drawers inside the top with little brass knobs. A great and unusual feature.
This gustavian chest of drawers ( EG25) is again c. 1820s and in good condition. It has a different pedestal from the other drawers and features 3 full depth drawers for excellent storage and has been repainted in a lovely chalky white that really brings out the character of the piece.
This early 1900s Gustavian chest of drawers is most elegant with slim legs and an overhanging top edge and has been refinished in a light wash to allow the stunning wood grain to come through with the original drawer handles and escutcheons. It has a lighter feel visually than the earlier 1800s drawers and still provides great storage space.
We also have this lovely early 1900s smaller Gustavian drawers with the classic fluted pyramid leg shape and original swedish blue paint too.
So you can see even within the genre of Gustavian drawers there is a lot of variation in shape and stylistic detail to choose from.