Today, June 5 2018, marks Thomas Chippendale’s 300th birthday. Quite an achievement!
We have covered Thomas Chippendale on our blog before: providing some examples of giltwood mirrors designs by the cabinetmaker, sharing an exciting discovery about an early exhibition on Chippendale, and most recently exploring the wonderful chair designs of Chippendale.
Today, we will highlight some lesser known facts about Thomas Chippendale.
- ‘Chippendale style’ furniture is the first example of a furniture style that is identified by the name of its creator rather than the name of the reigning monarch (such as Queen Anne, George II, or Louis XV).
- Chippendale was not just a designer and cabinetmaker: he offered a wide range of services for this clients, including full interior design services and furnishing funerals.
- Chippendale held three insurance policies with the Sun Insurance Office Ltd. After a fire broke out at his St. Martin’s Lane workshop in April 1755, the Gentleman’s Magazine reported, ‘A fire broke out in the workshop of Mr. Chippendale, a cabinet-maker near St. Martin’s Lane, which consumed the same, wherein were the chests of 22 workmen.’ Chippendale was awarded £8447 12s. 7d. for the loss from this fire.
- Google celebrated Chippendale’s 295th birthday with his very own doodle on its search page.
- Over the years, Chippendale has earned himself the honorary titles as the ‘Shakespeare of English Furniture’ and the ‘High Priest of Mahogany.’
- Chippendale is known for his full-scale furniture (of course), but he also made miniature furniture for dolls’ houses as well as dolls’ houses themselves. His famous doll’s house at Nostell Priory is believed to be a design by James Paine and executed by Chippendale.
- Chippendale never used a maker’s mark–this means that furniture known to be by Chippendale is based on known inventories or bills that can be matched to the piece. Other attributions are based on stylistic evidence and known construction features of Chippendale’s workshop (s-pattern keyholes, tacked blocks on bracket feet, batten-carrying screw-holes on seat rails, etc).