Thomas Chippendale in 18th century antique furniture terms was a real superstar of his day and his designs were much copied. The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director (his design catalogue) went to three editions (1754, 1755 and 1762) and his designs spread far and wide across the country.
Provincial craftsmen produced many chairs in the Chippendale style, although these country-made chairs differed a great deal from original city designs. Chippendale always suggested mahogany as his wood of choice, because of the fineness of the grain and the ease in which lavish Rococo carving could be applied to pieces. However provincial craftsmen used local woods and simplified much of the detail.
Local woods used were tulipwood, beech, elm and any type of fruitwood that was available to the craftsman. Styling was generally much plainer and often the cabriole leg was replaced by straight squared legs. The seat would be solid and plain however it would often be the carved and pierced back splat of the chair that would provide the telltale influence of Chippendale design. Although plainer Chippendale designs were also made for the cheaper end of the market in city workshops, it was the local woods, uneven cut and sometimes badly jointed construction that would indicate examples to be country made.
There are good examples of period ‘Country Chippendale’ chairs still to be found. Like fine Chippendale chairs of the period all these provincial examples would be hand crafted. When looking for antique dining chairs in Cumbria and Lancashire, local dealers may be able to help with your search.
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