20 Apr 2021
October 13, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Chairs,Antiques Advice — Richard

Rococo and Neo-classical styling couldn’t be more different; one is flowery and loose, the other rigid and rectilinear, so attributing a designer to a certain style should be comparatively easy. However, Thomas Chippendale adapted his designs as did both George Hepplewhite and Thomas Sheraton, so it can be quite difficult to identify mid to late 18th century dining chairs where all three were merging styles to keep ahead of the market.

Chippendale, although renowned for Rococo styling and the use of the cabriole leg, by 1760 had already began using plain square legs on the cheaper versions of his dining chairs. The leg also began to narrow and taper as design moved away from Rococo styling which really only existed in Britain between 1750-60. The backs of chairs were also altering fundamentally from the elaborate ‘ribband’ backs and intricately carved splats of Rococo and earlier Chippendale, to the Neo-classical oval, heart and shield shapes of Hepplewhite and the famous decorator Robert Adam which incorporated the wheatsheaf and urn classical motifs of antiquity rather than floral Rococo carving. These chairs were now much lighter than both Rococo and the earlier Palladian designs of William Kent. Chippendale continued to move away from Rococo working under the influence of Adam. Mythological motifs by the female painter Angelica Kauffmann were also incorporated by Adam into the overall designs of pieces. Thomas Sheraton was also producing chairs which incorporated the Prince of Wales feathers, another favourite Neo-classical design of Hepplewhite which also reflected the Regency period. As the century wore on, Sheraton’s designs became much plainer and more reminiscent of what we think of as his designs today.

It is therefore difficult to differentiate between all of these great 18th century furniture designers. However, should you wish to purchase period and revival antique dining chairs , Preston antique dealers can advise.

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