Chippendale Furniture

Named for its designer, Thomas Chippendale, this style of mid-18th century furniture is in great demand by collectors the world over. There are many imitators, but no substitutes for a genuine piece of Chippendale furniture. Combining several influences and cultures, Thomas Chippendale’s designs were sleek and elegant. Even today, many styles of modern furniture use his techniques. Decorators find its versatility to be invaluable when dressing a room, too. It is no wonder that this particular antique is such a hot commodity.

Thomas Chippendale was a cabinetmaker and furniture designer that made a name for himself by publishing his designs. These designs were published in 1754 and it started a style revolution. Entitled “Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director”, it showed a unique gift for assimilating different cultures into 18th century lifestyle. His vision was so unique and influential that the name Chippendale would become synonymous with any furniture made in the same era. Often, people make a mistake in thinking they have the real thing when they really do not.

The style of Chippendale furniture is an amalgamation of various looks. Before publishing “Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director”, Thomas Chippendale had worked with an architect named Robert Adam. Known for his Neoclassical design, Adam was a great influence on Chippendale’s work. Other influences included Gothic, French Rococo, and chinoiserie (that’s antique-talk for Oriental style). The combination of these influences made a distinct look.

Ways to distinguish a real Chippendale piece are difficult, even for a so-called expert. Characteristics of a Chippendale chair include the following: chair arms that are slightly curved outward or are flat, wood made of mahogany or cherry, cabriole legs with decorative knees, and a back that is shaped like a horseshoe, square, or trapezoid. As you can see, just a chair alone has many variations. To spot a genuine Chippendale is very rare not only because of the scarcity of the pieces, but because there are so many look-alikes.

To attempt to become a collector of Chippendale furniture, one would need deep pockets and good resources. There are a few modern craftsmen that create Chippendale furniture directly from the pages of Chippendale’s masterpiece, “Gentlemen and Cabinet-Maker’s Director”. One such artist is Joseph Hemingway of West Yorkshire, England. Chippendale himself had craftsmen build for his business from his designs, once his work became so popular. So, if you are interested in Chippendale-style furniture but can’t afford the real thing, check out Hemingway’s work. They are extraordinary piecesâÂ?¦ there is a reason why Chippendale’s name lives on today.

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