Following the Jacobean Period, the William and Mary era brought in a new era of furniture design. The William and Mary furniture period was relatively short lived, from 1688 to 1702, but marked significant design changes from the previous era.
Just as the Carolean Period, the last wave of the Jacobean Period, was heavily influenced by the French, the William and Mary design was influenced by the Dutch.
As a part of the history William was the grandson of Charles I (Jacobean Period) and Mary was the daughter of James II (Carolean Period). William had been the ruler of Holland and Mary had lived there long enough to be comfortable with the people and the culture. When the two married and moved to England to assume their roles as rulers they carried with them the ideas of the Dutch.
The Dutch loved home and comfort. Hence, they developed a furniture style that reflected their love of home. When William and Mary assumed the throne in England they not only imported the comfortable lifestyle but also the furniture. Additionally, the couple brought artisans to England from Holland.
Queen Mary had interests in furniture, needlework and loved collecting fine china. The English people were influenced by their queen and her tastes. Of course, this more comfortable style was well suited to the “middle class” of the era. The average man and woman could identify with the furnishings. William and Mary furniture caught on rapidly following the Jacobean era of rigid and heavy furniture.
Instead of the heavy oak of the past, William and Mary style furniture was often made of the lighter walnut. The transition to walnut had actually begun in the late Carolean era but was full force under the reign of Queen Mary. The styles were simpler and more suitable to everyday life as was the lighter wood.
While maintaining the rectangular structure of the previous period, the lines were much cleaner.
To learn the eight basic characteristics of William and Mary furniture read more here.