Leeds City Museum is opening an exhibition to showcase the craftsmanship and design skills of Yorkshire furniture maker, Thomas Chippendale in the year of his tricentenary.
The exhibition is already open to the public and will run until June 9th. It contains original documents and drawings from one of the country’s most celebrated furniture designers, with many of these pieces going on display to the public for the first time.
Thomas Chippendale was born 300 years ago in the Yorkshire town of Otley on June 18th 1718. In 1748, Chippendale moved to London where he designed his furniture. He mainly made furniture to order, but also supplied fabrics and soft furnishings including window pelmets and mirrors.
Chippendale’s best furniture pieces are ornate and expensive. For example, a bed frame for Nostell Priory cost £250, a vast sum in the eighteenth century. His workshop also produced plainer and less expensive furniture like linen presses, chests and tables. These were often bought by the gentry for their below stairs servants to use.
In 1754, Chippendale published his ‘Director’, which is a book of furniture designs. This made it easier for other cabinet makers to copy his designs. Some furniture labelled as Chippendale was not made by Chippendale, but this does not necessarily mean that they are low quality.
It may be possible to find genuine Chippendale furniture at Lancashire antique shops alongside more available items such as Victorian Burr Walnut Davenports and inlaid Edwardian furniture. Lancashire buyers will find that there are many fine English designers influenced by Chippendale.
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