If we think of Thomas Chippendale, amply proportioned dining chairs with bulbous cabriole legs will often come to mind. However the mid 18th writhing curves of the rococo heavily influenced by the French court of Louis XV (1723-74) was really in fashion for a relatively short period of time in England and Chippendale quickly diversified and moved on to the much straighter more compact lines of neo-classicism, alongside chinoiserie and gothic styles.
Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director had three editions published between 1754 and 1762 to keep up with the ever changing styles of the period. The publication of these books also meant that his designs were being copied throughout the country. A page from the Director in 1754 was offering customers any number of bookcases, tables, chairs (and other ornaments) in the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste.
It is the backs and legs of dining chairs that display Chippendale’s varying interpretations of these differing styles very well. His rococo styling could fully incorporate the accentuated curving cabriole leg with the flowing ribbon back splats, but these chairs could also have a straighter more classical leg; the lyre back splat was already reflecting the move away from the fussy rococo towards the neo-classical and the whole chair design straightening to incorporate simpler tapering rather than the curving cabriole leg; and the ‘Chinese Chippendale’ again much straighter design with the easily recognisable chinoiserie fretwork carving on the splats. The choice (and mixture) of styles was very much with the customer.
Anyone interested in finding good quality Chippendale period and revival antique dining chairs in Lancashire , Cumbria, Cheshire or surrounding areas should see a reputable antiques dealer who will be able to advise on the varying styles he used.
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