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Antiques & Collecting: Famous Cabinet Makers - Chippendale

PUBLISHED: 16:24 06 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:07 20 February 2013

A Chippendale style mahogany chair, value £370-£470

A Chippendale style mahogany chair, value £370-£470

Thomas Chippendale (1718-79) is no doubt one of the best known cabinet-makers. The son of a carpenter, he was born in Otley, Yorkshire, and was working in London by about 1748. He established his workshop in St Martin's Lane and called it 'The Cha...

His fame is world-wide because of his volume of designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, which was used by other makers both in England and America. First issued in 1734, it was reprinted in 1755 and an enlarged edition appeared in 1762. He was joined by his son, also named Thomas, who continued his father's business until 1796. During which time he was in partnership with Thomas Haig.

'The Chair' was a very appropriate name for the workshop because it is really for his chairs that Chippendale was and is best known. His chair designs ranged from the strongly geometrical to chinoiserie styles with sumptuous latticework and carving. His workshops also created many other pieces, ranging from cabinets, desks and tables to mirror frames, bookshelves and settees.

Some of Chippendale's work, especially in his later years, was of the finest quality, often showing the influence of the designs of Robert Adam. He supplied many of these pieces to well-known places like Nostel Priory in Yorkshire between 1766 and 1770, and Harewood House a few years later. He also supplied furniture to Badminton in Gloucestershire and Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire.

Chairs modelled on Chippendale's designs are still made today, especially sets of dining chairs which have not changed greatly since the early ones. However, all the furniture sold by Chippendale was accompanied by a receipt. This receipt is highly important proof that the furniture is an authentic product of his workshops. Nowadays pieces sold without this piece of paper - which has often been lost or destroyed - are not sold as 'Chippendale' but instead the term 'Chippendale Design' is used. The possession of a receipt adds great deal to the value;

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