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 Side Chair, Thomas Chippendale, England, Museum no. W.65-1940. © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Side Chair, Thomas Chippendale, England, Museum no. W.65-1940. © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) made his name as cabinet maker in 1754 when he published The Gentlemen and Cabinet Maker's Director. It was the first British furniture catalogue and was published at a time of change, when cabinet makers were taking over from upholsters as the trade that controlled the furnishings of houses.

Chippendale not only  created the designs but also found the clients and organised the workshops in St. Martin's Lane, London. A Scotsman, James Rannie, provided the necessary financial backing for the business.

Chippendale's designs were widely copied by cabinet makers in Britain but also in America but also throughout Europe. New editions of the Director were published in 1755 and 1762 and the designs have continued to be re-printed to this day.

The Chair

The slightly curving back legs reach up to form the back rest and the back splat is carved in symmetrical scrolls with detailed carving of leaves around a central double
C-scroll sunburst.

This was Chippendale's most popular chair design. It is made of high quality mahogany and retains all its original stretchers and oil polish. The symmetrical carving of the back is copied from a design rather than freely carved. It lacks the vitality of carving on documented Chippendale chairs.

Find out whether this chair was from Chippendale's workshop, by examining the design, the craftmanship and the results of shining infra-red light on a hidden inscription.

Video: Is this a Chippendale Chair

View transcript of video

A gift in your will

You may not have thought of including a gift to a museum in your will, but the V&A is a charity and legacies form an important source of funding for our work. It is not just the great collectors and the wealthy who leave legacies to the V&A. Legacies of all sizes, large and small, make a real difference to what we can do and your support can help ensure that future generations enjoy the V&A as much as you have.

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