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01 Nov 2014

18Th Century Furniture Makers - The Big Three

In the 18th century, the 'big three' furniture makers are undoubtedly Thomas Chippendale, Thomas Sheraton and George Hepplewhite. Bespoke Furniture Staffordshire

Thomas Chippendale has become the most famous of all. He was actually a cabinet furniture and maker designer located in London. Styles ranged from English with deep carving, elaborate anglicised rococo, Chinese style with latticework and lacquer, and Gothic with pointed quatrefoils, fret and arches-worked legs. In later years he adopted the Neoclassical style. His father was joiner and probably the person that got Thomas began in the trade.

He was the first cabinet-maker to publish a magazine of his designs, that was known as the Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director, published in 1754. This influenced many other cabinet makers and illustrated nearly every form of mid-18th century domestic furniture.

Chippendale was an interior designer as well as a cabinet maker. He advised on soft furnishings as well as the overall appearance that a room must have. His work was desired from the rich and famous and that he frequently took commissions from the aristocracy.

He died of TB in 1779 but has become commemorated having a full size statue on the V&A Museum and a memorial plaque may be found in Otley, Yorkshire (his probable birthplace) outside of the old Prince Henry's Grammar School. His son of the same name went maintained the family unit business.

Thomas Sheraton also worked in the uk from 1790 being a professional architecture and consultantarchitecture and design teacher.

His designs were based upon classical architecture and may be categorised as Neoclassical. These were often produced from inlaid satinwood. Whilst he was actually a designer, there is absolutely no evidence he actually came up with pieces himself. Just one single piece can in fact be credited to him - a glass fronted bookcase which bears the stamp T.S inside one drawer.

Sheraton also published an influential work - "The Cabinet Maker's and Upholsterer's Drawing Book" which was available to the general public in 1791 - it greatly influenced English and American design. Also, he published "The Cabinet Dictionary" in 1803, explaining the strategies of furniture making and upholstery. His last book was volume 1 of "Cabinet Upholsterer, Maker and General Artist's Encyclopaedia" in 1805. He died in 1806. Bespoke Furniture Staffordshire

George Hepplewhite will be the last from the 'big three'. He also worked in the uk but as a man, little is actually known about him.

His name is known for a slender, elegant furniture style and particularly for any large shield shape on chair backs. No pieces produced by him or his firm are believed to exist now.

He died in 1786 and in 1788, his widow Alice published "The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Guide", featuring about 300 of his designs. Some declare that George Hepplewhite is in fact only a pen term for Alice as it is so difficult to find evidence of the person.

Hepplewhite's designs only really found fame after the date of his death.

Chippendale and his contemporaries were excellent furniture designers and influenced the cabinet makers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Their publications and designs are extremely important that they can continue to influence people as furniture design evolves through the entire ages.



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