Colonial/Colonial Revival FURNITURE....................Rococo style................. Federal style................. Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary
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Thomas Chippendale was a furniture maker of the mid to late 18th century. He was probably born in 1718, but there is no record of his birth, only his baptism in that year. He was the son of an Otley, Yorkshire, England carpenter and most likely an apprentice to his father.
There are no records of his early life and training, but by 1753 he was established in London as a furniture maker.
Claim to fame
In 1754 he published the first of three editions of his Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, a catalogue of English furniture design. This book is probably the major reason he is one of the world's best-known furniture makers. Prior to the publication of Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director in 1754, no cabinet maker had ever issued his designs comparable to the lavish volumes produced by professional architects.
Chippendale's varied output 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.
Most of his work uses solid mahogany wood with elaborate hand carving.
Chippendale Styles in England
"The eighteenth century included the five great styles of English furniture, that is, the Queen Anne, the Chippendale, the Adam, the Hepplewhite and the Sheraton. It is for this reason termed the "Golden Age" of English cabinet making.
"Several styles which became fully developed in particular periods, for example, the Chippendale and the Empire, actually began earlier than their names would indicate. Certain features of the Chippendale style, for example, made their appearance some years before Chippendale himself made furniture; and some features of the French Empire style are seen in furniture made before the Empire of Napoleon arose." - Edgar G. Miller, Jr., American Antique Furniture, 1937, Vol. 1, p. 35
"During his long life as a craftsman, Chippendale saw at least five important styles develop and some of them wane, and all of these he either greatly influenced or at least did distinctive work in them. When he began as a journeyman, the early Georgian style was in vogue. Later followed the 'French taste' [Rococo], the Chinese style, the Gothic style, and, during the latter half of his working period, the classic [Neoclassical] style, given its English expression by the London architect, Robert Adam." - N. I. Bienenstock, "Thomas Chippendale," in The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, reprinted by Dover Publications, Inc., 1966
England - Georgian period
- Georgian style side chair - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
England - Rococo period: In the Director, most of the Rococo pieces use a French whorl (reverse scroll) foot. All of the legs are cabriole.
There are no examples of claw-and-ball feet (considered old fashioned) in the Third Edition, yet virtually all American Chippendale pieces that are Rococo have claw-and-ball feet. Most of the designs in the Director are too ornate for American taste.
- Sofa - Plate XXXI, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director (French style [reverse scroll feet] Rococo style)
- Cornice for a Venetian (Palladian) window - Plate XXXVI, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director (Rococo style)
- George II Chippendale mirror - Dana Tillou Fine Arts
- George II (?) Chippendale mirror - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
England - Gothic period
- Gothic Library Bookcase - Plate XCVII, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
England - Chinese period: A period in Chippendale's work, in the mid-18th century, when he was greatly influenced by chinoiserie, Chinese motifs, and the work of Sir William Chambers.
- Three Chinese chairs - Plate XXVIII, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
- Chinese bed - Plate XXXIII, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
England - Adamesque period: 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. In America, Adamesque is known as the Federal.
- One of three chairs - Plate IX, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
- One of two French chairs - Plate XIX, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
- Library Bookcase - Plate XC, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
- Library Bookcase - Plate XCI, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
- A desk and bookcase - Plate CVII, Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
- Harewood House. Illustrations, text for major house commission
Chippendale Styles in America, 1750-80
Proportions Broad but delicate.
Essential elements Curved and elaborately carved parts. Carved motifs such as scrolls, shells, and acanthus leaves. Cabriole and Marlborough legs. Claw-and-ball feet. Fretwork decoration. Yoke-shaped top rails with upturned ends on chairs. Pierced chair splats sometimes with Gothic arches, flora, and trefoils. Upholstered seats with straight sides. Some gadrooned skirts on tables and chairs.
Secondary woods Maple, pine, ash, cedar, beech, tulip, or others
- Marvin D. Schwartz, American Furniture: Tables, Chairs, Sofas and Beds. 2000
American Chippendale was more conservative than its English counterpart and reflected earlier 18th century trends such as claw-and-ball, which were already out of fashion in London.
Cabriole legs are an essential feature of this period.
Designs had the light proportions of the Queen Anne period, but were generally more opulent.
Intricate chair backs, including the ladder-back, now became popular. Mahogany was by now the favored wood.
During this period different regional preferences became apparent. Craftsmen in Newport, Rhode Island, for example, followed the classical style more closely, with fluted and reeded columns and legs, whereas their Philadelphia counterparts produced more elaborately carved Rococo pieces.
Examples from Buffalo:
- Illustration at top of this page: Rococo side chair. Philadelphia, ca. 1765. Mahogany, white pine and yellow pine secondary woods. (Rococo style) On display in the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in 2003
- Rococo highboy - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Rococo highboy -Private collection, Amherst, NY Transitional
- Rococo lowboy - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Rococo side chair - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Reproduction Rococo tilt-top tripod table ( style) - Kittinger Furniture Company
- Reproduction Rococo highboy - Kittinger Furniture Company
- Reproduction Rococo bench - Kittinger Furniture Company
- Reproduction Rococo "Presidential Fireside Chair" - Kittinger Furniture Company
- Rococo side chairs made in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston - Winterthur Museum
- Rococo highboy - Winterthur Museum
- Rococo tilt-top table - Winterthur Museum
- Rococo settee - Fairmount Park Woodford House, Philadelphia
- Rococo fret-carved mirror - Amherst Humphrey House, Genesee Country Village, & Museum
- Rococo lowboy - Fairmount Park Woodford House, Philadelphia
- Rococo fret-carved mirror - Fairmount Park Woodford House, Philadelphia
America - Chinese period: Using Chinese and Japanese furniture as models is known Chinoiserie
America - Federal (Adamesque) period: In America, because of intense patriotism and anti-British sentiments, the Adamesque style is known as Federal.
For this period, the following were used:
Examples from Buffalo:
- Federal side chair - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Federal side chair - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Federal side chair - Appleton House/Medaille College President's Residence
- Federal Country Chippendale side chair with rush seat - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Federal chest of drawers - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Federal desk - Ansley Wilcox Mansion / Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site
- Federal tilt-top piecrust table - Dana Tillou Fine Arts
- Federal slant top desk - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Sofa - Private collection, Amherst, NY
- Slant-front desk - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Reproduction Federal armchair - Kittinger Furniture Company
- Slant top desk - American Antique Furniture, Orchard Park, NY
- Mirror - Winterthur Museum
- Federal highboy - Winterthur Museum
- Federal tilt-top table - Winterthur Museum
- Federal wing armchair with crest - Hosmer's Inn, Genesee Country Village, & Museum
- Federal mahogany ladder-back side chair - Fairmount Park Woodford House, Philadelphia
- Federal side chair - George Wythe House, Williamsburg, Va.
- Federal bookcase - Independence Hall, Philadelphia
- Federal andirons - Independence Hall, Philadelphia
- Rhode Island block-front chest-on-chest - Winterthur Museum