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Chippendale

A Guide To Chippendale Style Furniture

Chippendale style furniture is one of the most popular styles of antique furniture today. This style has remained so desirable because of how well it blends form and function together—it’s truly a hallmark of the best and most enduring furniture designs. 

Chippendale furniture will not only give your home an elegant and timeless feel, but they’re durable as anything; often lasting for generations. Whether you go with original period furniture or a high-quality reproduction, Chippendale style furnishings are sure to elevate any home’s interior design.

What Is Chippendale Style Furniture?

This particular style of furniture was named after Thomas Chippendale, an English cabinetmaker whose work rose to prominence during the 18th century. Chippendale furniture actually encompasses three styles, namely Gothic, Rococo, and Chinese. The term, however, is most often used in reference to modified Rococo-style furniture from the mid-1700s. Some Chippendale furniture pieces can also have features or hints of the Queen Anne style and other styles that arose earlier in the century.

The Gothic influence in Chippendale furniture can be seen in features like pointed arches, wooded lattice, and ogee or s-shaped curves. Rococo Chippendale pieces, on the other hand, drew inspiration from French design but were toned down for the more conservative English market. Lastly, fretwork design in china cabinets or shelves is one of the best examples of Chinese influence on the Chippendale style.

 

How Do I Identify Chippendale Style Furniture?

Check The Wood

Chippendale furnishings of the highest quality are typically made of mahogany. However, more affordable Chippendale style pieces also come in maple, cherry, walnut, and other types of wood. Lighter woods are often stained dark to resemble the depth and intensity of darker woods and imitate older styles.

Mahogany and cherry are the top choices today for reproductions, as finding original Chippendale furniture can be very difficult—and very costly.

Look At The Legs And Feet

Another hallmark of a Chippendale piece is intricately carved, curved cabriole legs. Cabriole legs end in a number of types of feet, including the lion’s paw, the ball and claw, and the club-type. American cabinetmakers, in particular, favor ball and claw feet because their talon-like shape is reminiscent of the eagle. Some pieces can also have straight legs, such as the spade, which is a tapered leg, and the Marlborough, which is a square leg.

Examine The Other Details

Chippendale style furniture will often have finials and pediments on top of tall pieces like clock cases and grandfather clocks. Chippendale chairs often have top railings in a yoked shape, as well as intricately carved back splats with pierced-splat or interlacing ribbon designs. Less commonly, remnants of Queen Anne design may be seen in Chippendale style furniture, such as shell motifs.

 

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the market for authentic Chippendale pieces, you will need either original bills and documents or a professional inspection to determine if you have the genuine article. This is because Thomas Chippendale never used a maker’s mark. Original Chippendale pieces were made entirely by hand, so you should be looking for imperfections in the furniture. For instance, carvings will not be exactly the same or matching on different sides of the piece, and more often than not, joints will also show tool marks.