Thomas Chippendale Furniture
Thomas Chippendale Furniture is original antique furnitureproduced by the celebrated English maker Thomas Chippendale.
Brief history and description
Thomas Chippendale (born in 1718) was an English furniture designer and cabinet maker, whose designs came to typify the aesthetic of the Rococo, mid-Georgian style.
Chippendale was instrumental in the design process of his pieces, often designing entire rooms rather than individual pieces for sale, and even dabbling in interior design by advising his clients on the colours they should use in a room featuring his works.
Many of his commissions were for aristocratic, wealthy households, resulting in his furniture still existing in several stately homes throughout the United Kingdom.
Many of Chippendale’s pieces have shell motifs, claw and ball foot details, and are often created using mahogany, maple, walnut and cherry woods. A book containing many of his designs was published in 1754, entitled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director.
Following Chippendale’s death in 1779, his son took over production, working in the same style as his father.
Chippendale’s style experienced resurgence in popularity in the 19th century, and is today very popular with collectors.
Guide for collectors
The Chippendale Society, founded in 1965 and operating from Chippendale’s birthplace of Otley, is a society created for the appreciation of his life work, with the intended aim of helping to keep it in the public consciousness; in addition to a twice-yearly newsletter, the society also holds a variety of events and gatherings for fellow enthusiasts.
Chippendale’s designs were frequently copied, so it is important for prospective collectors to accurately establish the authenticity of a piece before purchasing; therefore buying from a reputable auctioneer or antique expert is key. Collectors should also note that the better the condition of the piece, the more they can expect to pay if it is an authentic Chippendale.
Notable auction sales
Highly desirable to collectors, Thomas Chippendale pieces frequently sell at auction for very high prices.
The most expensive piece of Chippendale furniture to sell at auction was a carved and figured mahogany scalloped-top tea table with open ball and talon, which sold on 22nd January 2005 for $8,416,000 from Sotheby’s New York. The piece was sold in mint condition and had been owned by several generations of the Brown family prior to its auctioning.
In December 2010 a Chippendale chest of drawers known as the Harrington Commode sold for a record price of £3,793,250 at Sotheby's in London.
At a similar price point, on 20th January 2007, Sotheby’s New York auctioned a Chippendale carved and figured mahogany desk and bookcase with carving attributed to John Welch. The piece, previously belonging to the Gilbert Deblois family, was sold for $3,288,000.
At a slightly lower price, a Chippendale carved and figured mahogany bonnet-top chest sold for $913,250 from Sotheby’s New York on 19th January 2002, and a Chippendale carved mahogany tall-case clock sold for $30,000 on 8th May 2005 from Sotheby’s New York.
The lowest price paid for a Chippendale at auction is $90, for a Chippendale side chair sold from New Orleans Auction, St. Charles Gallery, Inc. on 4th June 2005. In a similar price range, a carved Chippendale style mahogany side chair sold from Morton Kuehnert Auctioneers & Appraisers on 6th January 2011 for $150.
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