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Chippendale - In Smaller Things

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



The perfection of the Chippendale style is often observable in the smaller things of household requisites and furnishings. Indeed in miniature work some of the artists who followed Chippendale's lead seem to have excelled, and no doubt many of the beautifully designed sundries which are shown in " The Director,'' and books of designs which were published about that time, were welcomed by those who followed the taste of the period. There were many charming little gallery-topped tables specially made for the display of bijouterie and snuff-boxes, some of the more delicate gallery-tops being strengthened by the addition of brass bands—especially those galleries of the peg-top order. In the Victoria and Albert Museum there is a charming artist's table of carved mahogany after the Chinese style, and there are ornamental tables, the tray tops of which are covered with needlework and silk embroidery, being afterwards glazed. The dumb waiter was an innovation of that time, and some of these pieces were beautifully carved.

The so-called wig-stands providing puff-box and powder, and a ewer of rose-water and a bowl, essentials to a gallant of that day, are extremely interesting. These little basin stands frequently stood in some convenient corner on the ground floor of a mansion, and to a certain extent served the purpose of a modern lavatory basin in days when there was no town water supply. On a little platform under the basin, or in a small drawer, the puff and powder were conveniently at hand, and after adjusting his wig and dusting it with powder the gentle-man caller dipped his fingers in rose-water.

A word of caution to collectors may be given in that there is extreme difficulty in separating the work of Thomas Chippendale and the men who received their inspiration direct from him, and that of other makers who were in business on their own account throughout the whole of the time Chippendale was founding his style. Naturally the latter were influenced by the popular taste, and if they did not actually copy, as some did, the designs in " The Director," they caught Chippendale's theme in their draughtsmanship. Mr Litchfield in his book entitled, "How to collect Furniture," mentions as active contemporaries of Chippendale, France, who lived near by in St Martin's Lane, Charles Elliott, Campbell and Sons, Thomas Johnson, Robert Davy, and Mathias Lock. To these must be added such men as Manwaring, who left their marks upon the trade, and who created styles of their own. Of the men whose names have been mentioned some held Royal appointments to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. Thomas Johnson was a carver of some repute, for he published a book of drawings entitled " Twelve Girandoles," in 1755, and another book a few years later.



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