Mid 18th century furniture making has always been heralded as the zenith of English cabinetry with certain names coming readily to mind; namely Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton, and the piece of furniture most often associated with these three is the antique dining chair . All these great furniture designers were producing complete ranges of household furniture at the time and wealthy households would own large sets of dining chairs. However, pieces were rarely marked by these designers and often attribution to a particular workshop is only possible now through original maker’s bills which were sent to these grand houses. Pieces can be identified through design catalogues and by the framework and style of the piece. Chippendale, for example, liked to use the cabriole leg, and back splats were carved in the Gothic, Chinese and Rococo style although all retained that essential Chippendale quality and overall shape. Cheaper and country copies of Chippendale chairs used squared rather than cabriole legs, and the seats were often plain wood rather than padded, however the back splats retained that Chippendale styling. Hepplewhite’s dining chairs were lighter in build and the style more classical in overall form. The backs of his chairs were often oval or shield shaped with ostrich feather or wheel spoke designs emanating from the centre. Sheraton’s designs in contrast certainly to Chippendale and to a lesser extent Hepplewhite, tended to be much plainer and rectilinear, and later designs were almost minimalist in style, quite fragile looking but extremely elegant. The backs were square and the legs thin and finely turned.
It is always difficult to attribute furniture of this period to any one of these famous three where they mainly designed rather than actually made pieces. So, when wishing to purchase period 18th century antique dining chairs , visit Lancashire antique dealers who will be able to advise you.
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