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Buy Spanish Baroque, Spanish Colonial, Spanish Colonial Revival Antique Furniture at Work of Man

Ever Wonder About the Difference Between Spanish Baroque, Spanish Colonial and Spanish Colonial Revival Furniture?

Baroque” was a style of art, music, architecture and furniture that flourished throughout Europe from the late 16th Century to the mid 18th Century. The term originated from the French language meaning “irregularly shaped” and transcended into meaning anything extravagantly ornamented and overly ornate complex forms. Baroque came to Spain as the dominant design style in the early 17th Century to the middle of the 18th Century.

During that time period Spain was focused on its “New Spain” colonies in North, Central and South America. Introducing the Old World styles of the time were very much a part of the Spanish colonization - just as England’s colonization of the “New World” introduced the English styles.

When these styles were reproduced in the colonies they were disadvantaged by the lack of technological and supply chain advantages enjoyed by the mother country. Couple that with indigenous artisan craftsman who possessed different skill sets, new “colonial” styles emerged. Just as American colonial furniture derived from English designs, Spanish Colonial furniture derived from Spanish Baroque designs popular at home at the time. 

When evaluating these styles of furniture consider the following main points:

  • What are the primary and secondary woods?
  • How ornate is the overall design of the piece?
  • How detailed are the carvings?
  • Were the carvings executed with a skilled hand?
  • What type of joints were used in the construction?
  • Were any parts of the piece painted? 

Spanish Baroque

Spanish Baroque furniture made in Spain during the Baroque period, tends to be made of the harder woods such as walnut, oak and elm since they were abundantly available in Spain at the time. The overall design of the piece would have been lavishly ornamented. Carvings in Spanish Baroque furniture were more profuse, more detailed and executed with a higher skill level. Connections of wood joints tended to be done with mortise and tenon joints held together with hand cut pegs. 

Spanish Colonial

Spanish Colonial furniture made during the same time period is found to be made of primarily pine and oak - both of which were, and still are, abundant in Central America. The overall design of the piece would have been much simpler. Much of this furniture originated for the missions and their surrounding settlements which emphasized a simpler personal lifestyle so more concentration could be devoted to the church. Carvings in Spanish Colonial furniture were less pronounced, not as detailed and executed with a lesser skill level than its continental counterpart. The connections of wood joints in Spanish Colonial furniture also utilized mortise and tenon joints held together with hand cut pegs but were not executed with the same skill level. One distinguishing characteristic of Spanish Colonial furniture is that you will often find “polychrome finishes” - i.e. parts of the piece - primarily carvings -are further decorated with applied paint to highlight the carvings. We have two such pieces in our collection: 


  • AF1-371: Polychrome Decorated Carved Spanish Colonial Oak Refectory Table Circa 1750

Spanish Colonial Revival

Spanish Colonial Revival furniture emanates primarily from California and Florida around the turn of the 20th Century through the 1930’s. This furniture was mass produced using the modern machinery and technology available throughout the 20th Century. The construction, materials, craftsmanship, finishes are vastly different from examples of their earlier counterparts - Spanish Baroque and Spanish Colonial furniture. The Spanish Colonial Revival furniture was for a long time considered to be “reproductions” but now that early examples are surpassing the 100 year threshold they have started to become antiques in their own right.

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