In the 18th century, furniture design and usage were revolutionised by the introduction of mahogany. This strong and elegant wood allowed for intricate and delicate designs that were previously impossible with oak and walnut.
One area that saw significant transformation was Georgian dining room furniture, where oak gate-leg tables and country furnishings were replaced with resplendent planks of rich mahogany, laid side by side to achieve extending dining tables of colossal proportions. Along with these new dining tables came other dining furniture, including exquisite mahogany dining chairs, serving tables, sideboards, dumbwaiters, and table accouterments such as fine porcelain, ceramics, cut glass, silverware, and chandeliers.
Georgian dining involved a multitude of foods, sweetmeats, and drinks served, which often meant that dining took a considerable amount of time. The meal would typically consist of three courses: soup and fish, followed by cooked dishes, and completed by meats. After this, a dessert of jellies, sweetmeats, ices, and fruits would be served.
Duke de la Rochefoucauld
The dominant style of Georgian dining during the 18th century was ‘service a la francaise’, which dictated that the entire meal be laid out on the table so that all components were within reach of each member of the dining party. Guests would either help themselves or be served by a footman. ‘Service a la Russe’ was introduced in Paris by the Russian Ambassador in c.1810. This was different as the table was largely empty of food dishes, and instead of serving courses individually one after the other. By the end of the 19th century, this was the most popular way of dining.
Sociability was integral to Georgian dining, and the dining table was one of the most important items of Georgian dining room furniture. The Duke de la Rochefoucauld commented that “Dinner is one of the most wearisome of English experiences lasting, as it does four or five hours.” However, the flexibility offered by Georgian Dining Tables allowed for a formal event that could be enjoyed by all.
In conclusion, the Mahogany Revolution transformed furniture design and usage in the 18th century, particularly in the dining room. Georgian dining room furniture was an important part of socialising during this time, and the theatre of dining provided people with the stage to exercise their wit and social skills. The dominant style of Georgian dining was ‘service a la francaise’, which dictated that the entire meal be laid out on the table. By the end of the 19th century, ‘service a la Russe’ had become the most popular way to dine. The dining table was one of the most important items of Georgian furniture, and the flexibility offered by Georgian Dining Tables allowed for a formal event that could be enjoyed by all.