Restoration Style (1660–1685)

Restoration Style, also named Carolean style, was used in England during the restoration of the Charles II monarchy.

Black and white portrait of Charles II with a straight mustache and long, luscious locks.
Portrait of Charles II; from a picture once in the Oak Room at Cashiobury

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History of Carolean Style

The Carolean style, or Restoration Style, emphasizes English decorative arts, which became popular after Charles II came back to the throne in 1660. His return from exile on the continent brought the elimination of the Puritan severity in the country. A completely new taste for magnificence and opulence, as well as the introduction of Dutch and French artistic influence, created a whole new sensibility.

A white stone bust of Charles II.
Charles II portrait bust, Honor Pelle, 1684- Victoria and Albert Museum

Image source: by Yair Haklai

Restoration Period Masterpieces

Squerryes Court in Westerham is a beautiful estate of red bricks that was built for Sir Nicholas Crisp, who purchased the land in 1680. It is a manor house that was designed in the Restoration period.

Squerryes Court in Westerham, Kent: A red-brick building with large white windows on the first and second floors. An arched, white door sits in the center and blue skies fill the background.
Squerryes Court, Westerham, Kent.

Image source: by L2F1

Ham House in Richmond was restored in the 1670s by the Duke of Lauderdale. The architect was William Samwell, and the ceilings were richly adorned with baroque murals by Antonio Verrio.

Old Father Thames Statue Outside Ham House in Richmond London: A large, dark-stone estate with a variety of large windows. A small statue sits outside the front of the mansion.
Old Father Thames Statue Outside Ham House, Richmond – London.

Image source: by Jim Linwood

Charles II wanted architect Hugh May to supervise the modernization of the Royal Apartments in Windsor Castle, where the largest baroque style Apartments exist in England. The extravagant appearance of these new interiors was heightened by expensive textiles and wonderful tapestries, which were exposed when the King and Queen lived in residence.

St Georges Hall, Windsor, which was destroyed in the great fire of 1992.
St George’s Hall, Windsor Castle, which was destroyed in the great fire of 1992.

Image source: by Ian A Gratton

Characteristics of Restoration Style

These are the main features of this style:

  • Curving Forms – Flowing forms were a feature of the Restoration style. Particular carvings and high-relief decorations created a sense of dynamism that was gracefully contained by the symmetry of the overall design.
  • Rich finishes – Ornate, rich finishes were very popular. Gold and silver were used to embellish wood and leather.
  • Spiral Columns – Spirally twisted forms were used to create supports
  • Natural Motifs – Fruit, flowers, and acanthus leaves were used to decorate furniture.
Small desk with folding top (bureau brisé), Marquetry by Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt (Dutch, 1639–1715, active France), Oak, pine, walnut veneered with ebony, rosewood, and marquetry of tortoiseshell and engraved brass; gilt bronze and steel, French, Paris
Small desk with folding top , ca. 1685 Marquetry by Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt (Dutch, 1639–1715, active France), French, Paris

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A walnut armchair with ornate flourishes and a modern velvet cushion.
Armchair ca. 1685–89-Walnut; modern velvet, British

A closeup of the dark walnut armchair's head flourish.

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