Chippendale furniture is named after the famous London cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale. This furniture is known for its amalgamation of different furniture styles, which was the first of its kind. This style of furniture was very famous during the 18th century, and today it is considered as antique furniture of great value.
This style of furniture blended three distinct furniture styles, namely Chinese, Rococo, and Gothic, to create a unique and harmonious style. Some of the best and most valued pieces of this furniture are the Chippendale chairs with its characteristic broad seated design along with carved legs and pierced splats.
Thomas Chippendale was born in 1718 in Yorkshire England. Son of a carpenter, John Chippendale, Thomas received his early training in woodworking from his father. In 1754, he published a book named The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director that featured his designs in detail.
His designs were unique, and showed his genius in crafting and designing ornate yet elegant pieces of furniture. He established his own workshop in London, where he crafted some of his best works.
Chippendale furniture became world-renowned, and soon there were copies of his style in Europe and America. His workshop was taken over by his son Thomas Chippendale Jr., where it flourished further.
The style of this furniture was so well received because it made a welcome break from the style of ornate furniture, predominant at that time. It made a departure from the heavy Baroque style of furniture, was less formal but no less awe-inspiring. The use of all different styles of furniture was done such that each individual item was a true piece of art.
The wood that was used in making this style of furniture was mainly mahogany. With its reddish-brown color and rich texture, mahogany was perfect for intricate carvings. This was one of the most distinguishing characteristics of Chippendale furniture. Cabriole legs and the claw and ball foot styles are some of the hallmarks of this furniture.
This S-shaped curved leg design often ends in what is known as a 'claw and ball' foot, which is carved in such a way that it looks like a bird's claw clutching a small ball.
Instead of having a plain wooden back, Chippendale chairs had unique carved ornate backs. Pierced splats were another popular characteristic, and have become one of the most prized antique furniture styles today.
The use of lattice work and fretted cornices―seen in china cabinets and bookshelves―was also a notable characteristic. Mirrored frames with gilded bird patterns, Chinese pagodas, and flowers are also classics of the Chippendale style.
If you are lucky enough to inherit this furniture, get it appraised and take good care of it. They are highly prized antique furniture now, and genuine Chippendale furniture is hard to come by. Make sure that you do some research before buying antique furniture to ensure that it is genuine.