Thomas Chippendale

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Chippendale, Thomas

(chĭp`əndāl'), 1718–79, celebrated English cabinetmaker. His designs were so widely followed that a whole general category of 18th-century English furniture is commonly grouped under his name. Chippendale's Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, an illustrated trade catalog first published in 1754, was widely influential in England and America. Among the numerous pieces stamped with his style, it is possible to assign unquestionably to his own workshop only those for which the original bills still remain, as in the case of Harewood House and Nostell Priory, whose furnishings were created by him. While he based his work upon the general Queen Anne and Georgian characteristics of sober design and thoroughly fine construction, retaining many of the early 18th-century details, Chippendale's distinction was to introduce many other forms. For these he used three outside inspirations—Chinese, Gothic, and contemporaneous French rococorococo
, style in architecture, especially in interiors and the decorative arts, which originated in France and was widely used in Europe in the 18th cent. The term may be derived from the French words rocaille and coquille
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. The first two resulted naturally from the general mid-18th-century enthusiasms for chinoiseriechinoiserie
, decorative work produced under the influence of Chinese art, applied particularly to the more fanciful and extravagant manifestations. Intimations of Eastern art reached Europe in the Middle Ages in the porcelains brought by returning travelers.
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 decoration and pseudo-Gothic architecture. Chippendale's name is emphatically identified with the extensive variety of chair types that he developed—from geometrical to Chinese, lattice, or sumptuously carved and interlaced forms. Chippendale's varied output also included desks; mirror frames; hanging bookshelves; settees, with which he was especially successful; china cabinets and bookcases, frequently with fretted cornices and latticework glazed doors; and tables with delicately fretted galleries and distinctive cluster-column legs of Gothic inspiration. The last phase of his career shows the influence of the designs of Robert Adam. Chippendale's style, quickly imported to America, was imitated by a number of expert cabinetmakers.

Bibliography

See studies by A. Coleridge (1968) and C. Gilbert (2 vol. 1986).

Chippendale, Thomas

 

Baptized June 5, 1718, in Otley, Yorkshire; buried Nov. 13, 1779, in London. English cabinetmaker.

Chippendale settled in London around 1738, where in time he established the unique Chippendale style. Chippendale’s furniture designs, which favored the use of mahogany, combined utility of form, comfort, and clarity of structure with delicate lines and intricate patterns. The designs combined motifs of Chinese art, the Gothic, and the rococo. In the 18th century, furniture in the Chippendale style was known throughout Europe, including Russia. In 1754, Chippendale published his album of furniture designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director.

REFERENCE

Lowe, J. Möbel von Thomas Chippendale. Darmstadt, 1955.