10 Apr 2021
January 31, 2011 - Filed under: Victorian Dining Chairs — Richard

The largest collection of Thomas Hope furniture for almost a century has been put on sale in a New York gallery. Thomas Hope was one of the most important furniture designers in Regency England, but many of his finest pieces are now on display in America.

When people in Cumbria are asked to name an important Regency influence on antique desks, the answer may be Chippendale, Hepplewhite or Gillow’s. However, many believe Thomas Hope to be greater than any of these, his flamboyant and classically inspired designs recreated in Lancashire’s Victorian dining chairs long after his London death in 1831. The one downside of his elaborate, overtly aristocratic style is that it became so badly copied by mid-Victorian mass-production. Indirectly, he could be said to have ushered in the Arts & Crafts furniture movement.

Thomas Hope took his inspiration from Renaissance Italy, Ancient Greece and Rome, all of which he visited during his “Grand Design Tour.” Metalwork, marquetry and curved ivory inlays were mingled with gay abandon. During the late Victorian revival period, his designs were used by cabinetmakers like Edwards and Roberts, whose Hope Victorian dining chairs are in the V & A museum. To OTT American designers, he is a demi-god.

The exhibition “Inspired by Antiquity: Classical Influences on 18th and 19th Century Furniture” is running at the Carlton Hobbs gallery, New York until February 14th. Among the 40 pieces being sold to raise museum funds is the largest Thomas Hope collection since Christie’s auctioned the contents of his Surrey home in 1917.

In Preston, Victorian dining chairs of the Thomas Hope Revival period can be found in many high class antique dealers – though not at New York prices.

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