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Thomas Chippendale (1718-79)

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Thomas Chippendale was the most celebrated cabinet-makers of the Georgian period. His lasting influence and reputation is largely due to his 1754 publication, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, a book of 160 Rococo, Chinese and Gothic furniture designs. This publication was made available by subscription and became so influential in Europe and the American colonies that 'Chippendale' became a descriptive term for any furniture resembling the designs in his book. In addition to original Chippendale furniture, the Royal Collection contains a number of pieces attributed to William Vile that show the influence of the Director designs.

While no evidence of a Chippendale commission has come to light in George III or Queen Charlotte's accounts, payments to Chippendale totalling £134 15s 6d have been discovered in the surviving portion of the 1764–6 accounts of the Duke of Gloucester (brother of George III). This payment is thought to refer to a suite, consisting of a pair of armchairs and a pair of sofas. The suite was later enlarged by the addition of 13 single chairs in two sizes and a pair of bergères for George IV.

When Thomas Chippendale died in 1779 his business was taken over by his son Thomas Chippendale the Younger (1749–1822). In 1820 Thomas the Younger was commissioned by antiquarian John Children to create an elaborate commemorative armchair for the Prince Regent (later George IV) from the wood of the famous elm tree from the battlefield of Waterloo.

In 1911, Queen Mary and Sir Charles Allom of White Allom and Co. created the Chinese Chippendale Room at Buckingham Palace. 'Chinese Chippendale' or 'Chinese rococo' was a style of richly carved decorative work inspired by the publications and work of Thomas Chippendale. This style fell out of favour in the 1770s but regained popularity in the 1830s and a full-blown revival took place in the first three decades of the twentieth century with Queen Mary in the vanguard.


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