The drawing is stamped “Meubelfabriek ‘Hellas,'” which means “Hellas Furniture” in Dutch (as well as Afrikaans, a Dutch dialect spoken in South Africa). Hellas, a reference to ancient Greece, is presumably a description of the neoclassical Grecian style of the design or perhaps the name of the furniture company offering the beds. The drawing was likely either an original design for a specific client, or used generally for selling the beds to prospective clients by showing various available designs.
The term Biedermeier refers to a style that arose in German-speaking countries in the first half of the 19th century, specifically between 1814 and 1849. This was a period of political reform in which the middle class asserted itself against the authority of the aristocracy. The style was characterized by classical motifs such as columns, lyres, paw feet and other features carried forward from the neoclassical Louis XVI and Empire styles. Wood veneers — often mahogany or blond birch — were arranged with the grain matched to create symmetrical surface designs, sometimes highlighted by ebonized moldings. Biedermeier style has periodically been revived from the late 19th century to present.
Stamped lower right “Meubelfabriek ‘Hellas'” and numbered 693. Inscribed in ink upper right “222.” Inscribed in pencil lower center “31.19.0/ 800._”.
Provenance: James Lamantia, Jr. (1923-2011). At the time of his death, Lamantia was Emeritus Professor of Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans. He was also a practicing architect, and an artist.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, wear, soft creases.
Cullison, William R. III, and Lamantia, James. An Eye for Architecture: Architectural and Decorative Drawings from the Collection of James Lamantia. New Orleans: Southeastern Architectural Archive, Tulane University Library, September 16 to October 31, 1984.
Leichter, Heinrich. “The True Biedermeier.” Ritter Antik. http://www.ritterantik.com/ritter_antique_worth_knowing.php (15 October 2012).