Thomas Chippendale, Gainsborough armchairs. Circa 1760
Height : 37.50 cm. Width : 27.00 cm. Depth : 28.50 cm. Price: $128,500
Notes: Refined elegance as championed by Thomas Chippendale is clearly evident in the masterful design of this pair of antique Gainsborough armchairs. Referred to as Gainsborough chairs for their resemblance to those seen in 18th-century paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, these generously proportioned chairs feature hallmarks of Chippendale design such as square backs, carved and set-back arms, and carved straight legs to the front with out-swept back legs. Crafted of luxurious mahogany and upholstered in beautiful period tapestries, these antique library chairs would have been perfectly appointed to enhance the interiors of extravagant Irish and English estates. Eighteenth-century chairs comparable to these in such exceptional condition are extremely rare and eagerly sought by collectors.
In 1754, Thomas Chippendale became the first cabinetmaker to publish a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director. It encompassed the three main furniture styles of the day-Gothic, Chinese, and Rococo-and included a wealth of designs for chairs, sofas, and beds, as well as smaller accoutrement. Immediately this publication was considered the "bible" of furniture design, and Chippendale was the first person to boast such a strong following that an entire style bears his name and not that of a monarch. Soon this modest craftsman counted among his distinguished list of clientele countless members of nobility and society figures including Catherine II of Russia and famed actor David Garrick. He also obtained substantial contracts with the noble houses of Nostell Priory, Harewood House, Burton Constable, Ayrshire and Kent, some of which still house many of his finest pieces in their private collections.
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