CHIPPENDALE, Thomas (1718-1779). The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director: Being a large Collection of the Most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture, in the Most Fashionable Taste. London: for the Author, 1762.
CHIPPENDALE, Thomas (1718-1779). The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director: Being a large Collection of the Most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture, in the Most Fashionable Taste. London: for the Author, 1762.
CHIPPENDALE, Thomas (1718-1779). The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director: Being a large Collection of the Most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture, in the Most Fashionable Taste. London: for the Author, 1762.
4 More
CHIPPENDALE, Thomas (1718-1779). The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director: Being a large Collection of the Most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture, in the Most Fashionable Taste. London: for the Author, 1762.
7 More
No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium. This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of the greatest English cabinet-maker, Thomas Chippendale, aptly described by Christopher Gilbert, as ‘The Shakespeare of English furniture-makers’. Apprenticed to his father, John, a joiner in Otley, Yorkshire he moved to London in 1748 where he soon set up premises at the sign of the Chair in St Martin’s Lane, not far from Covent Garden where James Christie was to hold his first auctions; tradition has it that his rostrum was supplied by Chippendale and the model, still in use to this day. He made his name in 1754 with the publication of a book of designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director which showed the fashionable furniture of the time. The prevailing style was Rococo and the 160 designs were beautifully engraved and available for clients to choose from and for other cabinet-makers to copy. The success was immediate and The Director was reprinted the following year and further enlarged and edited in 1762, by which time neo-classicism was fast emerging as the fashionable style pioneered by the likes of Robert Adam, who had returned from Rome in 1758. Chippendale was astute at promoting his Director to a wealthy clientele, whether it be the established aristocracy or the holders of newly created fortunes in the burgeoning trading nation that England had become in the 18th century. Amongst his early commissions, the most famous was for the Earl of Dumfries in 1759; Dumfries House in Scotland was saved for the nation in 2007 by the Prince of Wales and other generous benefactors with Christie’s playing a pivotal role in the £45 million sale. This commission showed the full range of Chippendale’s skills from the famous padouk bookcase made for Lady Dumfries’s bedroom to superb seat-furniture and numerous mirrors. Interestingly his brief throughout his career was not limited to supplying the furniture and there was no part that his hand didn’t touch, from wallpaper to bedding. Whilst his designs from the Director made him famous the majority of the furniture we know and admire is neo-classical in style. Sir Lawrence Dundas, who had amassed a fortune in the Seven Years war, was keen to establish a fashionable London residence and in 1763 he acquired 19 Arlington Street, off Piccadilly, commissioning the avant garde architect Robert Adam, beholder of the new neo-classical style. Adam not only remodelled the house but provided a design for a sofa that was a transition between the curvaceous forms of the rococo yet adorned with neo-classical ornament. The design, that cost £5, was transformed into reality by Chippendale and is the only known instance of Chippendale executing an Adam design. This suite of seat-furniture was the most expensive of his career with the sofas costing £54 each and each chair £20. Partially dispersed from the house in the 1934 auction conducted by Christie’s, various elements of the suite have appeared here in King Street and in 2008 broke their own record as the most expensive pieces of Chippendale ever sold. The crucial link between the Adam design in the Sir John Soane Museum and this suite was made by Anthony Coleridge of Christie’s in 1967. The collaboration between Adam and Chippendale continued, but from then on Chippendale seemed to have convinced Adam and his patrons that he was more than competent to design in an innovative fashion. In his native Yorkshire where he was to have a great following, Chippendale worked in tandem with Adam at Nostell Priory for Sir Rowland Winn. The Winn commission, which included the London house 11 St James’s Square, is the best example of his neo-classical mahogany period and is well documented; as is the, at times and all too common, strained relations between patron and cabinet-maker. Running concurrently in Yorkshire was his work, again with Adam and John Carr of York, for Edwin Lascelles at Harewood House. It was Chippendale’s largest and most valuable commission, spanning more than a decade from 1768 and continued by his son, Thomas, for a further two decades. The carved mahogany of the 1750s and 60s had made way for lighter marquetry pieces, as well as intricately carved, gilded and painted, mirrors and chairs. The famous Diana and Minerva commode cost £86, whereas many of the mirrors stretched into hundreds of pounds. Christie’s has had a long association with Harewood and in 1965 the magnificent Harewood Desk, now at Temple Newsam, created a record 41,000 guineas [£43,050]. In the 1980s much work was undertaken at Harewood by Christie’s in conjunction with Carvers and Gilders to reinstate Chippendale’s work that had been swept aside during Charles Barry’s remodelling of the 1840s. Chippendale’s relationship with Adam was not exclusive. In the early 1770s he was commissioned by Sir Peniston Lamb, 1st Viscount Melbourne and his wife Elizabeth, an heiress from Yorkshire, to furnish Melbourne House in London alongside the architect Sir William Chambers and at his country seat Brocket Hall under James Paine. This commission produced such masterpieces as the Panshanger cabinets, circa 1773 and a superb marquetry commode now at Renishaw Hall, which was sold at Christie’s in 1802.Coinciding with the publication of Christopher Gilbert’s seminal work, The Life and Works of Thomas Chippendale, published by Studio Vista and Christie’s in 1978, a loan exhibition was mounted here at King Street. Since then the ardour for masterpieces by Chippendale has grown. The genius of his design, the perfection of his execution and excelling in all mediums make Thomas Chippendale Britain’s greatest cabinet-maker. No fortune was amassed, far from it, instead he left us his creations, a much greater legacy. THE GENTLEMAN AND CABINET-MAKER'S DIRECTOR, 1762
CHIPPENDALE, Thomas (1718-1779). The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director: Being a large Collection of the Most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture, in the Most Fashionable Taste. London: for the Author, 1762.

CHIPPENDALE, Thomas (1718-1779). The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director: Being a large Collection of the Most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture, in the Most Fashionable Taste. London: for the Author, 1762.

Folio (448 x 272mm). Letterpress title and 200 engraved plates by Müller, Hemerich, Darly, Clowes, Taylor, Rooker, Foster, Morris, and Hulett after designs by Chippendale; this copy bound without a dedication leaf (a few neat repairs including one to engraved surface, some faint staining and one short tear in margins). Contemporary panelled calf, gilt-ruled with fleuron tool in corners, green morocco spine label lettered in gilt, other compartments with ornate gilt decoration (lightly scuffed in places, some expert restoration to joints and extremities). Provenance: inscription erased from title -- William Stephen (wright and cabinet-maker in Dundee, Scotland; ownership inscription dated 1788 noting purchase price of £4-4-0).

William Stephen, a wright and cabinet-maker in Dundee, Scotland; the inscription is dated 1788 and notes a purchase price of £4 4s 0d.
Special notice

No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium.

Brought to you by

Peter Horwood
Peter Horwood Director, English Furniture

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

The 3rd edition (1762) of Chippendale’s the Director is considered the superlative version because it comprises the largest number of plates - 200 rather than the 160 of the earlier editions (1754, 1755). Furthermore, it illustrates how Chippendale’s designs evolved since the publication of the earlier editions. The revisions to the 3rd edition were ‘an exercise in streamlining, an attempt to produce a competitive second-generation pattern book’ in which Chippendale was entirely successful for no other comparable work was published again until 1788 (1).
Chippendale’s Director was the most ambitious and successful pattern book issued by a craftsman. It was the first of its kind – earlier collections of furniture designs having been small-scale intended for the trade. It was modelled on important architectural folios that an architect would present to his patron. Chippendale’s intention, as described in the ‘Preface’, was to bring clients and cabinet-makers together: ‘to assist the one in the choice, and the other in the execution of the designs’ (2). The Director offered designs in the ‘Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste’ (the ‘Modern’ or ‘French’ style being the English interpretation of the Rococo) in addition to scale drawings and detailed measurements so that it appealed to both clients and craftsmen alike.
Chippendale had evidently planned to issue a pattern book during the early stages of his career as a cabinet-maker. From 1752, he and his engraver, Matthias Darly (circa 1720-80), were sharing a house, adjacent to palatial Northumberland House, London home to Sir Hugh Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland (circa 1714-86, from 1766, 1st Duke), and his wife, Lady Elizabeth (1716-76); the collaboration on the plates for the Director began in 1753. Chippendale dedicated both the 1st and 2nd editions of the Director to the 1st Earl, undoubtedly wishing to attract the patronage of one of the wealthiest and most influential noblemen. In order to promote the forthcoming publication of the Director, on 19 March 1753, Chippendale placed an announcement in the London Daily Advertiser, and further advertisements in other metropolitan and provincial papers undoubtedly followed:

‘To be published by Subscription
Being a New Book of Designs of Household Furniture in the
the politest and most able Artists. Comprehending an elegant
Variety of curious and original Drawings in the most useful,
ingenious and ornamental Branches of Chair, Cabinet and
Upholstery Work… A work long wished for, of universal Utility,
and accommodated to the Fancy and Circumstances of Persons in
every Degree of Life… Subscriptions are taken by the Author,
Thomas Chippendale, in Northumberland Court, Charing Cross’ (3)

The 1st edition contained 160 engraved plates, and was limited to only 400 subscriber copies, which if bought as unbound sheets cost £1 10s or £1 14s bound, with half the amount to be paid in advance. Following publication, the price would be increased to two guineas. Chippendale was able to attract 308 subscribers, who ordered 333 advance copies, and the Director appeared four months early in April 1754. Ever the publicist, in June the same year, Chippendale was evidently looking for further subscribers because he placed at least five announcements in the Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer over a two-week period (4). Notably, the price to buy the unbound sheets had risen to £1 17s. The inclusion of a subscriber’s list at the front of the publication was a useful form of publicity. The subscribers comprised a mix of titled nobility, gentry, professionals, cabinet-makers and upholsterers, a significant number of these were Scottish; the former included the Duke of Portland, the Earls of Morton and Northumberland, the Countess of Shaftesbury and Lord Chesterfield, who, as Christopher Gilbert notes: ‘all shared a taste for Rococo decoration in preference to the English Palladian style’ (5). Notable craftsmen subscribers were the architect James Paine, many of Chippendale’s competitors such as Vile and Cobb, William Hallett, Linnell, Paul Saunders and William Bradshaw, and ‘Cheere, Esq.’, one of the family of sculptors responsible for many Rococo chimney-pieces (6).
The prompt for the publication of the 2nd edition a year later was probably first and foremost the opportunity to attract further clients, but also to correct some of the errors that had occurred in the rush to publish the 1st edition, such as two plates numbered XXV, spelling mistakes and a mix of both Roman and Arab numbering. The 2nd edition is virtually identical to the 1st in preface, list of subscribers, text and plates (7).
The publication offered here is the 3rd edition of the Director, issued in 1762, and the last to be printed during Chippendale’s lifetime. It includes revisions and improvements to ninety-four of the original plates from the 1st and 2nd editions, and an extra one hundred and six new plates making it forty plates longer than the earlier editions. The incentive to reissue the Director as a larger and improved publication was probably the announcement by Chippendale’s rival, Mayhew and Ince, in July 1759, that they would be launching their own project, A General System of Useful and Ornamental Furniture, closely based on the designs in the Director.
On 6 October 1759, Chippendale announced in The London Chronicle:

This Day were published
No. 1 of the Third Edition
(being Four Folio Copperplates, printed on Royal Paper, Price 1s).
To be continued Weekly, and the whole completed in Fifty Numbers
By Thomas Chippendale
Cabinet Maker, in St. Martin’s Lane

In April 1762, the 106 new plates were offered as separate sheets at £1 10s. 0d and the full 200 plates at £2 12s 6d unbound (8).
Unlike the 1st and 2nd editions dedicated to ‘the Right Honourable Hugh Earl of Northumberland’, Chippendale by this date aspired to attracting the patronage of the Royal family, and the dedicatory plate for the 3rd edition reads:

His Royal Highness
PRINCE William Henry
May it please your Royal Highness
To take the Following Work under your Protection
Your Royal Highness’s Ready Condescension to encourage
whatever is Laudable and useful in every Art and Profession emboldens
the Author to lay it at Your Royal Highness’s Feet, as it gives him
an opportunity of assuring Your Royal Highness that he is with
the profoundest Respect
Your Royal Highness
Most Obedient,
Most Devoted
Most Dutiful Servant
Thomas Chippendale’

The third edition provides an insight into the way Chippendale’s furniture designs developed over the course of nearly ten years with the addition of an additional 40 new plates. It shows that Chippendale was commercially-minded and conscious of the competition he faced in the London cabinet-making trade, and how he addressed this challenge through the publication of a bigger and better edition of the Director. Furthermore, it illustrates the ever-changing taste in furniture design.
This copy was owned by William Stephen of Dundee of which nothing is known except that he was a Scottish eighteenth-century ‘wright’ (cabinet-maker).

(1) C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. I, p. 88. This was George Hepplewhite’s posthumously published The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Guide (1788).
(2) A. Bowett, J. Lomax, Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779: A Celebration of British Craftsmanship and Design, exhibition catalogue, Leeds, 2018, pp. 22.
(3) Ibid.
(4) 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
(5) Gilbert, op. cit., p. 70.
(6) Ibid., p. 71.
(7) Ibid., p. 77.
(8) Ibid., p. 81.

More from Thomas Chippendale: 300 Years

View All
View All