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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Chippendale Part Two

Continued from Part One...

"After Chippendale's work, there appeared, in the year sixty-five, a book of designs for chairs only, though it is called The Cabinet-Maker's real Friend and Companion, as well as the Chairmaker's..."

"The succeeding publication to this seems to be Ince and Mayhew's Book of Designs in Cabinet and Chair Work, with three plates containing some examples of foliage ornaments, intended for the young designer to copy from, bu which can be of no service to any learner now, as they are such kind of ornaments as are wholly laid aside in the cabinet-branch, according to the present taste. The designs in cabinet and chairs are, of course, of the same cast, and therefore have suffered the same fate; yet, in justice to the work, it any be said to have been a book of merit in its day, though much inferior to Chippendale's, which was a real original, as well as more extensive and masterly in its designs..."

"In the year 1788 was published the Cabinet-Maker's and Upholsterer's Guide. But not withstanding the late date of Hepplewhite's book, if we compare some of the designs, particularly the chairs, with the newest taste, we shall find that this work has already caught the decline, and perhaps, in a little time, will suddenly die in the disorder."

Chippendale Double Corner Chair

From the above testimony, which certainly is not hostile to Chippendale, we gather that, forty years after its appearance, this book was entirely neglected, notwithstanding the real talent displayed. We also gather that Sheraton does not regard Chippendale as a great innovator who revolutionized the furniture of this day and introduced a radically new style. Moreover, he considers the furniture in a certain book to be more antiquated than Chippendale's, and thence argues that it must, therefore, have been published before his. The fact is that the book referred to came out six years later than Chippendale's, and it's designs are like the latter in general form. If, however, Sheraton is correct in saying that it does represent furniture in use before Chippendale published his work, we may safely conclude that it was only in the ornamental details taht the furniture of the day was affected by the latter.

George Smith published Designs for Household Furniture in 1808. In this, he bewails the fact that first-class artists do not (as they do in France) provide designs for the cabinet-maker and upholsterer. He adds: "Very great encouragement has been given of late by our Nobility and Gentry to various artists employed in cabinet-work, the good effects of which will, I doubt not, soon be felt; for as the beauty of the Antique consists i the purity of design, and what was pleasing centuries ago continue so be equally so now, so I do not despair of seeing a style of furniture produced in this century which shall be equally agreeable centuries hence."

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