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Monday, December 12, 2016

The Difference Between Hepplewhite & Sheraton Style Furniture

There are many, many differences in the furniture styles of George Hepplewhite and Thomas Sheraton. These two furniture artists of the mid 18th century each had a style to their own but today I'll focus on a quick and easy way to distinguish between the two styles that won't fail you very often.

It's the legs! Both furniture makers got their influence from the styles of England (as did everyone back then) and the differences are hard to spot except in the case of the legs.

Short and simple. Hepplewhite kept his legs SQUARED and tapered while Sheraton almost always used a turned style (still tapered) on his furniture. Some examples will follow. This rule applies to pretty much any piece you are looking at from chairs to sideboards.

Here are a couple of Hepplewhite sideboards as examples of the squared, tapered legs that are typical of George Hepplewhite. Both of these sideboards are circa 1790. The first one has a bit of Sheraton style in the intricate inlay, but the style of the legs overrides the Sheraton influence and this piece surely qualifies as Hepplewhite. As I mentioned before, there is a lot of subtlety in determining older pieces, so it's good to have a rule of thumb to go by.

antique hepplewhite style sideboard

antique hepplewhite sideboard

These old photos we had to scan and the detail isn't as nice as I'd like (you can click the images to enlarge), but you can see the detail on the legs that the Sheraton style furniture has compared to the Hepplewhite. Both are tapered, but Sheraton style furniture features turned legs with a lot of detail. Many time the legs have "knees" for a little extra flash. Again, I want to be clear, this is not the only difference between the styles, far from it. This is just the easiest way to quickly and pretty accurately figure out if you are looking at a Hepplewhite piece or a Sheraton piece.

antique sheraton style sideboard with turned legs

old sheraton sideboard - 1790

As I mentioned before, this little trick works all pretty much all types of furniture these two created and below is a good example of a Sheraton (on the left) style curio/writing desk next to a Hepplewhite (on the right) style curio/roll top writing desk. You can spot several style differences between the two but what jumps right out? The legs! The Sheraton on the left features turned and styled legs while the Hepplewhite piece sticks to the squared off legs.

Sheraton vs Hepplewhite Desks

If you've got anything to add, or if I'm dead wrong, let me know in the comments! :)



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