Queen Anne style furniture is a style of furniture design that developed during and around the reign of Anne, Queen of Great Britain (1702-1714). Queen Anne furniture is somewhat smaller, lighter, and more comfortable than its predecessors, and examples in common use include curving shapes, the cabriole leg, cushioned seats, wing-back chairs, and practical secretary desk bookcase pieces. Other elements characterizing the style include pad feet and an emphasis on line and form rather than ornament. In Britain, the style of Queen Anne’s reign is frequently described as “late Baroque” rather than “Queen Anne,” while in the United States the term “Queen Anne” describes decorative styles from the mid-1720s to around 1760, although Queen Anne reigned earlier.
The cabriole leg has been described as the most recognizable element of Queen Anne furniture. Cabriole legs were influenced by the designs of the French cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle and the Rococo style from the French court of Louis XV . But the intricate ornamentation of post-Restoration furniture was abandoned in favor more conservative designs, possibly under the influence of the simple and elegant lines of imported Chinese furniture.
In addition to simple curvilinear lines and cabriole leg, Queen Anne chairs are characterized by vasiform splats and frequently featured a horseshoe shape. Other important decorative elements included carved shell and scroll motifs, often found on the crest and knees. Wingback chairs, variations on other Queen Anne-style chairs, are fully upholstered with the exception of the exposed wood legs and have sides folded inward to keep heat contained within the chair. All four of the cabriole legs legs sit on padded feet. The shoulders of the back droop slightly to give a more feminine look to the style, in contrast to the squared shoulders of the masculine King George wingback chair.