Thomas Chippendale (1718-79), one of the finest English furniture designers certainly of the 18th century, was himself heavily influenced by the designs of the French Rococo. There are still in existence some very fine examples of now extremely rare French Louis XV, heavily carved and gilded wooden armchairs (fauteuil) dating back to c1740 upholstered with tapestry work that would have certainly formed part of Chippendale’s designs.
The fauteuil of this period remains as one of the most elegant armchairs ever made. It was generally constructed of walnut and as stated often heavily gilded and painted. The seat was overstuffed and the whole chair upholstered with Gobelins tapestry work. Although very few of these chairs survive today, good 19th century copies were made in both England and France. Chippendale’s designs also had the upholstered backs and part covered arms of the fauteuil with elaborately carved woodwork in his own interpretations of the French Rococo style. One of the key recognisable qualities of Chippendale’s chairs was the elaborately carved cabriole legs with the claw and ball feet. His armchairs would mainly be made of mahogany as there were shortages of walnut at that time in England.
Chippendale’s version of the French Rococo armchair can still be found but they also are becoming rare and therefore expensive. As with the French fauteuil, there have been many revivals of the Chippendale armchair as well and good Victorian examples can be found through antique furniture dealers. If you are looking for antique chairs in Preston, then a good antique furniture dealer in Lancashire or nearby should be able to help whether it is Chippendale or otherwise.
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