When we think of Thomas Chippendale, it is the organic forms and cabriole leg of Rococo styling that comes immediately to mind. However the heavy carving and flowing forms of Chippendale Rococo by 1760 was giving way to the much plainer lines of what was to become Neo-classical design.
One of the first features to go was the scrolled shapes. Although the cabriole leg never truly became outmoded, many of Chippendales chairs were now sporting a straight square leg. Also the fretwork on the backs of dining chairs was being simplified and the whole became like an abstract of the original elaborately carved Rococo versions. Sideboards also had severe square legs and were taking on this transitional simplicity which finally resulted in Neo-classical design.
Furniture of this transitional period made beyond 1760 is often referred to as ‘English Chippendale’ and was produced in varying quality. There were the London pieces from the Chippendale workshop which were top quality and very expensive; provincial makers such as Gillows of Lancaster were also producing furniture of high standard for the less well off; and there was ‘farmhouse’ Chippendale made in oak, beech, ash and elm which roughly imitated the fine city examples.
Chippendale and other furniture designers continued to use mahogany during this period, although satinwood also became popular for later Neo-classical designs. The ogee foot which produced an ‘S’ shape feature on the bottom of chests of drawers was a popular design innovation of this period and was eventually replaced by the splayed foot on the bow fronted and serpentine chest designs of the Neo-classical period.
Transitional period and revival ‘English Chippendale’ antique furniture are to be found, and for the ever popular smaller period antique chests, Cumbria dealers will be able to assist in finding the piece you want.
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