A whatnot is a furniture piece that emerged in the 18th century in France. It typically consists of a tier of shelves supported by turned posts or columns. The purpose of a whatnot is to display various curios, ornaments, or decorative objects.
In terms of design, the 18th century French whatnots generally followed the neoclassical style, characterized by clean lines, symmetrical shapes, and classical motifs. The turned posts or columns often feature intricate carvings or fluting, which add elegance and sophistication to the piece.
Whatnots were popular in both urban and rural French households, serving as a practical and aesthetically pleasing storage solution. They were often placed against a wall or in a corner of a room, making use of vertical space while maintaining a sense of organization and style.
The shelves of a French whatnot can vary in size and shape, allowing for the display of different-sized curiosities. Common objects displayed on a whatnot include porcelain figurines, small sculptures, vases, plates, and other collectibles. Some whatnots also had glass-fronted cabinets on the top shelf to protect delicate or valuable items.
Overall, the 18th century French etagere, or whatnot, represents a beautiful and functional piece of furniture, designed to showcase the owners collection of curios and add a touch of elegance to the interior design of the era.