Chippendale style of furniture is named after famous London cabinet-maker Henry Chippendale. Chippendale furniture is known for its amalgamation of several different furniture styles, which was the first of its kind. This style of furniture was very famous during the mid 18th century and today they are considered as antique furniture of great value. This style of furniture blended three distinct furniture styles namely Chinese, Rococo and Gothic to create a unique and harmonious style. Some of the best and most valued pieces of Chippendale furniture is the Chippendale chairs with its characteristic broad seated design along with carved legs and pierced splats.
Chippendale furniture History
Chippendale furniture is named after British cabinet-maker Henry Chippendale who was born in 1718 in Yorkshire England. Son of a carpenter John Chippendale, Henry Chippendale received his early training in woodworking from his father. In 1754, he published a book named The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director that featured his designs in detail. His designs were unique for those times and showed his genius in crafting and designing ornate yet elegant pieces of furniture. He established a workshop of his own in London where he crafted some of his best works. Chippendale style of furniture became world-renowned and very soon there were copies of his furniture style that were seen in Europe and America. His furniture workshop was taken over by his son Henry Chippendale Jr, where it flourished and became well renowned.
Chippendale furniture Style
The style of Chippendale furniture is a blend of some of the most distinct furniture styles. Three furniture styles namely French Rococo, Chinese and Gothic. It was for the first time that three distinct and widely disparate designs and styles were blended to form one single piece of furniture. It was so well received at that time primarily because it made a welcome break from the style of ornate furniture that was predominant at that time. This style of furniture made a welcome departure from the heavy Baroque style of furniture that was prevalent during that period. It was less formal but no less awe aspiring. The amalgamation of all the different furniture styles, was done in such a way that each individual piece of furniture was harmonious and was a true piece of art.
The wood that was used in making this style of furniture was a dark wood, mainly mahogany. The richness of mahogany with its deep brown color tinged with red, end itself well to intricate carvings, which was one of the most distinguishing characteristics of Chippendale furniture. Cabriole legs as well as the claw and ball foot styles are some of the hallmarks of such furniture. Cabriole legs consist of furniture legs, particularly chairs and tables that have a graceful curve instead of being straight. This S-shaped curved leg design often terminates in what is known as claw and ball foot which is carved in such a way that it looks like a bird’s claw clutching a small ball. Instead of having a plain wooden back, Chippendale chairs had carved backs that were highly ornate. Pieced splats were another Chippendale style furniture characteristic and are one of the most prized antique furniture styles today. Another notable characteristic of this furniture style is the use of latticework and fretted cornices that was seen in china cabinets and bookshelves. Mirrored frames with gilded bird patterns and Chinese pagodas and flowers are also classic Chippendale furniture style.
If you are lucky enough to inherit Chippendale furniture, then it is wise to get it appraised and take good care of it. They are highly prized antique furniture now and genuine Chippendale furniture is hard to come by. Make sure that you do antique furniture research before buying any such furniture piece to know whether it is genuine.