Rococo decoration in English furniture sprang from the French “rocaille” in the middle of the 18th century. It marked a wide deviation away from the principles which had governed designers during the previous two centuries towards a freer, lighter and more fanciful mode of decoration. Continuous curves were used in preference to a logically articulated system of verticals and horizontals. It appeared in its most characteristic form in England on sconces, mirrors, picture-frames and console tables, all elaborately carved and gilded by specialist craftsmen.
The credit for introducing the Rococo style to furniture in England belongs to Matthias Lock. The style was catching on in the 1740s, and in 1754 it became the predominant style with the publication of Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, in which the “modern taste” was applied to domestic furniture of all kinds. It was still the prevailing form in the third edition of the Director in 1762, but by then it was giving way to Robert Adam’s neo-classical style.