So much is known about Thomas Chippendale Sr., the infamous cabinet maker who started the Chippendale design trend with celebrated works in Harewood House and the Victoria and Albert Museum, to name just two.
But what of the younger Chippendale designer, Thomas Chippendale junior? He was just as talented a cabinet maker, but the world of furniture history pushes young Thomas aside.
Well, not anymore, because today Thomas Chippendale, the younger, will take his place in the spotlight over his father, to celebrate his work with furniture!
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Greatness From BIG Beginnings
Thomas Chippendale junior was baptised in April, 1749 at St Paul’s Church, London, although records are unclear about how long before his St Paul’s baptism in April he was born.
Despite knowing little about his start in life, the records show that the eldest son of Thomas Chippendale Sr. was a skilled furniture designer and took after his father and the family business.
One example is his sketches. The level of detail in Thomas Chippendale Jnr.’s work is comparable to that of a skilled artist. His artistic control and attention to detail rivalled his father’s.
How Did He Learn?
Well, when your father has published a book by the name of The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director, it’s no surprise young Thomas became skilled at cabinet making and furniture design, and likely from an early age.
It’s widely believed that he was an apprentice at his father’s workshop and firm in St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, London, from a young age, of course…
But furniture history records show that it was not only Chippendale senior who worked on The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director, but Matthias Darley too, who lived with young Thomas in the family house in London, St Martin’s Lane, for a while, and may have also taught him a few things.
There’s also some debate about whether Richard Wood in York taught Thomas Chippendale II more about the wood trade outside of London.
Thomas Chippendale Jnr.’s Involvement In The Family Business
Records show that Thomas Chippendale, the younger, was involved in the family business from an early age, and by the time Chippendale senior had retired in 1776, he was ready to continue the business alongside his father’s business partner, Thomas Haig.
After Thomas Chippendale’s father retired, the business began operating under the name Chippendale and Haig, before later changing to Haig and Chippendale.
Commissions Under Chippendale Junior’s Leadership
To highlight just how successful the younger Chippendale was, it’s good to refer to the commissions that he worked on following his father’s retirement to Kensington in 1776, and death in 1779.
One great example is the work he and Haig did for John Bruce in January 1795 – furnishing his entire flat in Westminster for around £174. This must have included everything from seat furniture to wood tables, soft furnishings to fine bookcases. The point is, these large commissions didn’t stop with his father’s death – they continued.
Chippendale Junior’s largest and most frequent commissions came from Sir Richard Colt Hoare at Stourhead in Wiltshire. In 1800, Sir Richard Colt Hoare added a library and picture gallery at Stourhead in Wiltshire, and records show that Chippendale was still working for him in 1820.
From 1779 to 1780, Sir Richard Colt Hoare also employed the Chippendale firm to furnish his London house, for an eye-watering £781. This show’s great faith in the young Thomas, and proves that he was recognised in his own right as one of the most skilled cabinet makers of his time.
Other notable commissions included:
- Ninian Home at Paxton House
- Sir John Frederick Bt. at Burwood Park
- The Earl of Pembroke at Richmond Park (and the Countess of Pembroke, too)
- The Marquis of Townshend at Raynham Hall
- George Wyndham at Petworth House, Sussex
- Charles Hoare at Luscombe Castle
- Sir Roland Winn at Nostell Priory, Yorkshire
- Edwin Lascelles at Harewood House (the Chippendale firm worked with Harewood House a lot, and we can find examples of work by the firm at Harewood House today)
- William Weddell at Newby Hall
- William Constable at Burton Constable Hall
- King George IV, indirectly through his factotum, Louis Weltje.
The Waterloo Elm
Perhaps the younger Chippendale’s most famous work of all was his chair of ‘Waterloo Elm’. Paintings show that the 1st Duke of Wellington is seated in the chair made of ‘Waterloo Elm’ – a famous elm tree from the battle of Waterloo that the Duke of Wellington won.
The chair was designed and given to the duke by Chippendale in around 1821. The chair was published by Geoffrey de Bellaigue in ‘The Waterloo Elm Furniture History XIV’.
Taking After His Father?
Margaret Jourdain reported that Chippendale Junior had worked on books himself, creating a small book filled with drawings of French furniture.
However, such a volume has never been found, so we cannot verify the claims made by Margaret Jourdain.
His Work As An Artist
Thomas Chippendale, the younger, didn’t just work out of his father’s old workshop in St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, London.
He had an additional shop in the Haymarket, London, in 1814, which moved to Jermyn Street, London in 1821. But it was his work as an artist that often goes unnoticed.
He was actually part of the Society of Arts and exhibited his paintings at the Royal Academy between 1784 and 1801 – showing his considerable skill and artistic control.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Thomas Chippendale junior…
After Thomas Haig died in 1796, Chippendale could not honour Haig’s will, and was declared bankrupt.
He survived by working as a cabinet maker and upholsterer to Prince William Henry, the first Duke of Gloucester, with records showing they were working together in 1805 prior to the Duke’s death. This certainly helped save the family business.
He married Mary Ann Whitehead in July 1793; but the pair had no children, and the Chippendale firm ceased trading after his death.
Remembering Chippendale Junior
Despite his work being showcased at places like Harewood House and the Victoria and Albert Museum, he isn’t as well remembered as his father. His work at St Martin’s Lane may have been important to his influential clients, but he isn’t honoured today in the way he ought to be.
So, we hope today’s post has cast a light on the life of Chippendale junior, so that his name might be remembered amongst other expert cabinet makers in history, because he certainly earned his spot!