When we consider Chippendale furniture, the name and style is synonymous with something quintessentially British. However, the influence of this great English 18th century antique furniture designer spread across to America in a number of ways.
Certainly thousands of period pieces of Chippendale furniture were exported from England to America throughout the 18th century. However a growing merchant class in America meant that a home grown antique cabinet making industry was now developing. The period American versions used a variety of local woods that were less prone to worm infestation and the vagaries of a drier climate that took their toll on the English imports. Also, the early American ‘Chippendale style’ produced hybrid forms (known as transitional furniture) where some pieces were more similar in design to Queen Anne and integrated design elements such as the flat rather than pierced splat synonymous with English Chippendale. Other variations such as ‘flared ears’ gave chairs a more right-angled form but, as with English pieces, mahogany was becoming the wood of choice.
Different workshops across America interpreted Chippendale in different ways. In Boston, cabinet makers copied from imported English pieces rather than from Chippendale’s design book. From 1750, Newport in Rhode Island produced and exported large numbers of pieces to the West Indies and more locally, New York. Here the Goddard and Townsend families produced quality furniture which was not so influenced by English designs, and period pieces by them remain highly sought after today. Other antique cabinet makers in Connecticut again broadened out their styles and produced whimsical pieces influenced more by American colonial styles than England. However, New York cabinet makers remained true to the Chippendale style. In 1770 Philadelphia became the centre of American cabinet making and produced some of the finest and most elaborate examples of the ‘Chippendale style’.
When looking for period and revival Chippendale antique dining chairs in Preston , ask local antiques dealers for advice.
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