Our stock of antique and 1900s Gustavian sofas sourced from Sweden are a great representation of the furniture of the Gustavian period. Please call/email us for prices quoting the SKU number.
Antique Swedish Gustavian Sofas and Settles
Antique Gustavian sofas and styling have set the benchmark for beauty, elegance and comfort. They have been endlessly copied and reinterpreted by modern designers for the good reason that they are a perfect design.
The actual Gustavian period runs from the 1780s-1820 approx under the reign on King Karl Gustav - hence the name.
Many people suggest there is a similarity between between the French Louis XVI style furniture and the Swedish Gustavian - this is correct. Kark Gustav spent his teenage years at the Versailles court of Louis the Sun KIng and clearly drew on the influences he was surrounded by when he began commissioning his own furniture once he returned to become King of Sewden. As is always the way, his design ideas became the fashion and Gustavian sofas and furniture were born.
The main difference with the Swedish Gustavian style is that it is more subtle than the French Louis XVI style in execution and rather less 'in your face' although it shares the same carved ornamentation and styling. This is why Gustavian sofas and chairs are so popular. They have all the elegance in the world without being overly showy.
In terms of design, you will find that Gustavian antique sofas feature a common vocabulary with other Gustavian furniture. They will have either turned or pyramid legs with deep fluting to give them a great visual appeal usually topped by a carved rose motif. The front rail will often be carved cane work with exquisite detail or sometimes a roundel pattern or egg and dart. The top rail again will be heavily carved with roundels or cane work and very often feature a beautifull hand created central motif: this could be carved roses, a shield, musical instruments etc. They can also have small phineals too as added decoration.
In some of the simpler pieces especially the settles, they forgo the carved rails for plain wood fronts in a more country style look with less overall carved detail so it gives you a wealth of choice depending on your prefered style.
The handmade frames are often birch or pine and the carvings mostly wood or occasionally gesso. The seats are either flat bench seats with a stuffed seat pad on the earliest and more country style antique sofas whereas the more heavily decorated ones feature fully sprung seats with 5" copper coil springs, webbed supports & horsehair pads for maximum comfort.
You find 2 seater sofas at 120cm wide, 3 seater sofas at 142cm wide, 4 seater sofas at 160-170cm wide and 5 seater sofas at 200cm + in a variety of shapes: roundbacks, square backs, open arms, curved closed arm settles and love seat, round or square legs.
In terms of seat depth, they will vary from 55-80cm depending on construction and the back height will be approx 90-110cm with teh sitting height at about 50-60cmcm tall approximately.
Most antique Gustavian sofas are in painted finishes often in a white or grey colour. From around 1900 they tend to be found more often in the classic Gustavian grey green and of course many have significant gilt finsihes opr giled detailing. You see many earlier Gustavian sofas sold as 'scraped back to the original paint'. Its worth noting that this is really just a modern paint effect as the original paint would have been a full rich coat of natural pignment chalky paint that would have looked nothing like the'scraped paint' look pioneered by antique dealers in the 1980s. There is nothing wrong with it but its not REAL. So bear that in mind when choosing your sofa. Its no more genuine than 'shabby chic' repainted finishes in truth.
Rarely you also find them in natural wood finishes although this is more unusual.
We offer a full upholstery service for all our Gustavian antique sofas and couches. We only use the best quality materials including natural fibre and black and white webbing and our master upholsterer has 35 years experience with top grade antique pieces, so do let us know if you want that included in our price quote – we will tell you the amount of fabric and gimp that we need.
The antique sofas also take repainting very well and we often repaint our Gustavian sofas for clients in colours of their choice to match their interiors. So if you hav a colour in mind lets chat about it - ina modern environment a repainted Gustavian sofa can look amazing! Jet black, electric pink, turquise and silver? Its up to you.