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Chippendale Style Furniture


Furniture Masterpiece

Chippendale style furniture "masterpiece" made in Philadelphia.

-Courtesy of Israel Sack, Inc.

Background on Chippendale Style:

American furniture crafted in the Chippendale style from about 1750-1780 was named after London cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale's work. This style falls within the Colonial period.

American furniture made in the Chippendale style was conservative in comparison to English designs from the same timeframe, according to American Furniture: Tables, Chairs, Sofas and Beds by Marvin D. Schwartz. Chippendale style is closely related to the earlier Queen Anne style, but it is important to remember that furniture designs sometimes overlapped as tastes changed.

Chippendale Style Legs:

Many Chippendale pieces have cabriole legs (the curving design illustrated in the photo shown here). American cabinetmakers from Newport, Rhode Island often used classically styled reeded or fluted legs as well. Furniture makers in Philadelphia slanted toward Rococo influence resulting in more elaborately carved legs. Some pieces, such as side chairs and small tables, have straight legs but other elements of Chippendale style are still present.

Chippendale Style Feet:

American cabinetmakers often incorporated the claw-and-ball foot (as illustrated in the photo shown here) into their Chippendale style designs. The claw-and-ball foot was already passé with English furniture craftsmen at this time, according to Schwartz.

Woods Used in Chippendale Style Pieces:

The finest Chippendale style pieces were usually crafted from mahogany. Walnut, cherry and maple were used for less expensive furniture made in this style.

Other Chippendale Style Features:

  • Chippendale style settees, stools and chairs were often upholstered with the finest of fabrics.
  • Top railings on chairs frequently have a yoked shape. Back splats on arm and side chairs can be intricately pierced, although some chairs have less ornate splats.
  • Shell motifs carrying over from the Queen Anne period may be present (like the one illustrated in the photo shown above), but are not prevalent.

Later Chippendale Styles:

Many reproductions of the Chippendale style were produced around 1900 during the late-Victorian period. While these are antiques in their own right, in comparison they do not have the finely crafted details found in early Chippendale style pieces.

Even today Chippendale influence is found in formal furniture design and manufacturing including the use of cabriole legs and claw-and-ball feet.

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