There is no doubt that one of the most famous names of the Neoclassical period in Britain is that of Robert Adam (1728-1792) who has been responsible for decorating and redesigning many stately homes throughout the country. Much furniture of this Neo-classical period was attributed to or ‘in the style of’ George Hepplewhite (d.1786) and continued to be copied from his Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterers’ Guide of 1788 which was published by his wife after he died.
Without a doubt Robert Adam was the main driver behind Neo-classical styling in Britain and designers like Hepplewhite would have followed his general trend. Adam returned from a working tour of Europe in 1758 brimming with ideas from antiquity. He then set about designing streets of houses along Neo-classical principles and styles. As an architect/decorator he would have employed furniture designers such as Hepplewhite to work with him and produce suites of furniture to fit in with his overall designs.
With these close working associations, it is hardly surprising that it becomes difficult to differentiate in furniture terms between Hepplewhite and Adam. At the time and since, Hepplewhite has had his name attached to any furniture that was in the style of Robert Adam. However it may be more correct to refer to the architectural pieces as Adam and perhaps the toned down pieces as Hepplewhite. Also we can refer to Adam’s Works of Architecture of 1778 and Hepplewhite’s Guide to take identification of pieces further.
When buying period and revival Neo-classical tables and antique dining chairs , Lancashire antique dealers will be able to help with the identification of styles and designs of any pieces they have in stock.
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