Skip to main content

Chippendale, Thomas snr (1718-1779)

Chippendale, Thomas snr

St. Martin's Lane, London; cabinet maker (b. 1718–d. 1779)

Enjoys an international reputation as author of The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director and is often described as ‘the Shakespeare of English furniture makers’. His career and achievements have been researched and published more extensively than any other English cabinet maker and his name has in the past been freely used as a convenient generic label to describe all Director-style furniture.

Thomas Chippendale, the son of a joiner, was baptised in the Yorkshire market town of Otley on 5 June 1718. A pedigree has established four generations of his forebears involved in the timber trade in Wharfedale, and also the descendants of his half-siblings into the late 20th century can be found in the Chippendale family Bible [Chippendale Society Collection]. Hardly anything is known about Chippendale’s early life or craft training, although it is possible that after serving a family apprenticeship he spent some time in the workshop of Richard Wood, a York joiner and cabinet maker. Nothing further is known of Chippendale until in 1748 he married Catherine Redshaw at St George's Chapel, Mayfair. She bore him five boys and four girls of which the eldest, Thomas Chippendale jnr (b.1749) continued the business after his father’s death. Catherine died in 1772 and in 1777 Chippendale married Elizabeth Davis, having retired and moved to Derry Street, Kensington in about 1776, probably on account of his poor health. They had three children, but only four of his offspring survived until 1784. Chippendale died of consumption at Hoxton and was buried in the graveyard of St Martin-in-the-Fields on 13 November 1779. In the absence of a will administration was granted to his widow. A probate inventory valued his household goods at £28 2s 9d, suggesting that the couple lived quite simply. His one third share in the business was worth a further £288 19s 8d.

Very little is known of Chippendale’s early career. Having moved to London perhaps in the 1740s, he may have received his artistic education from Matthias Darly, a professional designer, engraver and drawing master with whom he formed a business relationship to develop the Director. Other possible drawing masters have been suggested, including Matthias Lock and Thomas Johnson. At Christmas 1749 Chippendale took a house in Conduit Court, a small enclave off Long Acre on the fringes of a fashionable furniture making district. At midsummer 1752 he moved to more respectable premises in Somerset Court adjoining the Earl of Northumberland's palatial residence. Throughout 1753 he and Darly were collaborating on the Director plates.

In 1754 Chippendale moved to spacious new premises in St Martin's Lane, having formed a business partnership with a Scottish venture capitalist, James Rannie. In March his celebrated volume of furniture designs entitled The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director was published.

Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
The Chippendale Society

Designs for chairs, plate XII of the Director, 1754. © The Chippendale Society

It clearly benefited his trade, for all known commissions to supply furniture date from after its appearance. This folio volume, published by subscription, contained 161 superbly engraved plates, derived from the preparatory drawings mostly now in the MET, New York.  They portray a wide range of fashionable household furniture ‘in the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste’ complete with prefatory notes, the Five Orders of Architecture and perspective diagrams. A slightly revised version was printed in 1755 and a third enlarged edition featuring some Neo-classical elements was issued in parts between 1759 and 1762.  

Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Girandoles, in Chippendale Drawings, Vol. I., 1754 (20.40.1(77) Metropolitan Museum of Art, CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain 


Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Library Table, from Chippendale Drawings, Vol. II, c. 1762-70 (20.40.2(28). Metropolitan Museum of Art, CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain 

A French edition was also published at this latter date.

Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

French Commode, from Chippendale Drawings, Vol. II, c. 1760-70 (20.40.2(62). Metropolitan Museum of Art, CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain 

Chippendale's popular reputation is largely founded on this distinguished collection of designs. They exerted a powerful influence on his peers, particularly in the provincial Britain and the American colonies. He stated in the preface that ‘Persons of Distinction’ and ‘Eminent Taste’ had encouraged him to publish the book, one of whom may have been Lord Burlington, whose private account book contains the intriguing entry under 13 October 1747 ‘to Chippendale in full £6.16.0.’ However, this may refer to another Thomas Chippendale, a frame-maker from Worcestershire active in London from 1727. The first two editions of the Director were dedicated to the Earl of Northumberland, a notable patron of the arts, while the third was dedicated to H.R.H. Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester: both of whom commissioned furniture from the author. Many titled individuals ordered copies of the Director, which was marketed through London and provincial newspaper advertisements. However, the majority of subscribers were practicing tradesmen and a high proportion were Scots, probably owing to James Rannie’s influence.

Chippendale and Rannie called their new establishment at nos 60–62 St Martin's Lane ‘The Cabinet and Upholstery Warehouse’ and adopted a chair as their shop sign. They issued a trade card featuring a chair at about this time, although it was never applied as a label to identify their products [City of Westminster Archives]. In 1755 the property was rated at £124 and Chippendale arranged fire cover with the Sun Insurance Office for £3,700. Several early policies - 1755 (2), 1756 and 1767 - have survived and a highly instructive plan showing the layout of the premises was attached to Chippendale junior’s schedule of 1803. The firm suffered a setback in April 1755 when fire ravaged the cabinet shop destroying the chests of 22 journeymen: £847 was paid in compensation and the partners helped to organise a public appeal to replace their employees’ tools. Caesar Crouch, a cabinet maker living on the South Side of St Paul's, was one of the people nominated to receive donations. He had subscribed to the Director and Chippendale designed an ornamental invitation card for him which displays such striking affinities to several trade cards engraved by Darly that it is likely Chippendale was in demand as a designer of decorative surrounds [Chippendale Society Collection 1975/1].

James Rannie was a Scotsman with an extensive network of potential clients which doubtless explains the firm's early success in attracting Scottish patrons such as the Earls of Dumfries and Morton, Lord Arniston and the Duke of Atholl. Rannie died in January 1766 and the next month press notices appeared announcing the dissolution of the partnership and that the ‘Trade will for the future be carried on by Mr Chippendale on his own account’. Faced with a pressing need for ready money to satisfy Rannie's executors who were intent on withdrawing his capital, a well publicised auction of ‘The entire genuine and valuable Stock in Trade of Mr Chippendale and his late Partner Mr Rannie … also all the large unwrought Stock consisting of fine mahogany and other woods, in Plank, Boards, Vanier and Wainscot’ was held on the premises in March and April. The acute financial strains that this crisis imposed on the firm are vividly reflected in Chippendale's letters to Sir Rowland Winn; he feared he would be arrested for debt, ruined or driven out of his mind by money problems. These troubles were aggravated by the dilatoriness of many patrons in settling their accounts and in 1771, to stave off bankruptcy, Rannie's book keeper Thomas Haig who had remained with the firm, and another executor Henry Ferguson, each bought a third share in the business. This restructure and injection of funds resulted in the firm becoming known as Chippendale, Haig & Co until Chippendale snr’s death in 1779, when it became Haig & Chippendale.

Most of our information about Chippendale's activities comes from the firm's surviving bills and two collections of letters associated with his work at Nostell Priory and Mersham-le-Hatch. In his day he was regarded merely as a successful tradesman and did not enjoy the social status of fashionable architects or artists, so it is hardly surprising that few references to his affairs occur in diaries or journals and no obituary notice appeared. Diligent searches have revealed the identity of over seventy patrons (with a significant concentration in Yorkshire) although in many cases only bills, payments for unspecified work in ledgers or entries in bank accounts remain, the furniture having been dispersed. Even so, significantly more furniture from Chippendale's workshop has been identified — over 700 items — than from any of his rivals. Chippendale therefore fulfils the most important requirement of any major artistic figure: he has left a substantial body of high quality work that displays a steady development from an early through a middle to a late style.

Obviously Chippendale did not personally make the furniture recorded in his bills; in fact it is highly unlikely that he ever worked at the bench after setting up in St Martin's Lane, although the prefatory notes to the Director plates confirm that he received a sound practical training as a cabinet maker. It would, however, be unfair to regard him merely as an entrepreneur or the managing director of a successful company employing a team of up to 50 specialist tradesmen, only a handful of whose names are recorded. He certainly conceived his own designs, selected materials and supervised workshop production: he remained responsible to his patrons for artistic and quality control. From at least 1766 his son Thomas Chippendale jnr took an active part in the business and from the early 1770s was providing designs for Neoclassical furniture at Harewood [Chippendale Society Collection]. After Chippendale snr’s retirement to Kensington in about 1776 it seems likely that the son was almost entirely responsible for directing the firm’s output. It should be stressed that the workshop did not possess a monopoly of the most skilled craftsmen and was only one of several elite London furniture makers. The special achievement of both father and son was as inspired and innovative designers. Many clients continued their association with the firm after 1779 when it was run by Chippendale jnr.

Unless a piece of furniture carries a maker's label, and Chippendale never used this form of advertisement, the only sure way of identifying the author is by tracing the original bill or equivalent documentation. Even if an item corresponds exactly to one of Chippendale's published designs this does not amount to proof since many practicing cabinet makers bought the Director in order to copy from the engravings. If, however, superlative ‘post-Director’ furniture displaying striking stylistic and technical affinities with the firm's proven work for other patrons is discovered at a house — such as Newby or Brocket — where Chippendale is known to have worked, an attribution is acceptable, even if the itemized bills do not survive. Similarly, unprovenanced and undocumented furniture displaying unique Chippendale features can often be attributed to the workshop.  

Chippendale was patronised by the Royal Family, wealthy members of the nobility, gentry and connoisseurs who lived in the highest style of elegance; one therefore naturally associates him with luxurious furnishings. However, in addition to equipping state apartments the partners provided a complete house furnishing service supplying everything from the most opulent beds, mirrors and cabinets to cheap domestic wares for the staff quarters. The firm regularly provided curtains, carpets, wall papers, chimney-pieces, loose covers and bell systems; undertook repairs, removals, hired out furniture, and were even prepared to direct and furnish funerals for respected customers.

Chippendale often furnished interiors designed by Robert Adam but he is only known to have executed one of the latter's furniture designs (for Sir Lawrence Dundas in 1765). It is a myth to believe they formed a partnership with Adam supplying, and Chippendale carrying out, designs provided by the architect. On the contrary, when an owner did not require Adam to produce furniture drawings he appears frequently to have recommended Chippendale as the most accomplished exponent of Neo-classical furniture who could safely be trusted to equip his most elegant interiors with decorum. Architects of course expected to be consulted about schemes for rooms they had designed and Sir William Chambers insisted in a rather highhanded manner on vetting Chippendale's proposals for the principal apartments at Melbourne House, Piccadilly.

Chippendale's versatility is underlined by the fact that in addition to furniture he was prepared to design wallpapers, carpets, needlework, cast-iron stoves, silverware, decorative ormolu, trade cards and complete room schemes. He is known to have visited Paris in 1768 and in 1769 was caught attempting to import illegally 60 unfinished French chair frames. This episode raises the question of sub-contracting. From our knowledge of the infrastructure of the London cabinet trade it is likely (but not, as yet, proven) that at busy times Chippendale farmed out work involving specialist skills such as marquetry, carving and gilding or brass work to other firms — to be executed according to his designs. It is also probable that he bought-in and merely invoiced to customers common ‘backstairs’ articles and sometimes sophisticated items such as the combination backgammon and chessboard supplied to Ninian Home in 1774 and the French tortoiseshell and brass inlaid commode listed in his Dumfries House account.

Many of Chippendale's original manuscript designs survive in two major and several minor holdings. In 1920 the MMA, NY acquired two albums of drawings formerly owned by the Foley family, which include nearly all Chippendale's drawings for the first edition of the Director, plus a fair number prepared for the third edition and a scattering of unpublished designs. To these can be added an unprovenanced portfolio of 144 furniture drawings ascribed to Chippendale purchased by the V & A in 1906 and 7 Director designs which survive in the archive of Matthias Lock, bought by the same institution in 1862 [V&A, D 696-839-1906 & 2547-2624]. The presence of Chippendale material amongst the Lock sketches prompted speculation in the 1920s that Lock and his associate Copland had ghosted the Director plates, but since then abundant evidence in the form of letters and drawings in country house archives has confirmed that Chippendale was perfectly capable of producing his own furniture designs. A small number of drawings by Chippendale snr and jnr are held in the Chippendale Society Collection at Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

From the catalogue of Chippendale's known commissions the following may be singled out as pre-eminent owing to the abundance of elite documented furniture which survives for the most part in its original setting. His finest ensemble of ‘Director’ period furniture is at Dumfries House with a smaller anthology at Wilton; Nostell Priory and examples formerly at Aske Hall contain the best collections of pieces illustrating Chippendale's transition to Neo-classical taste, while Harewood, despite post-war sales, still retains the largest and most outstanding concentration of masterpieces in his mature ‘Adam’ manner. Paxton House and Mersham-le-Hatch deserve a special mention for their repertoire of well made but not overtly ambitious mahogany furniture expressing a very British character which illustrates Chippendale’s ‘Neat and Substantially Good’ style. Much of the green and white japanned furniture enchantingly decorated in the Chinese taste ordered by David Garrick for his villa on the Thames at Hampton has been identified, conveying a lighthearted spirit appropriate to a rural retreat. Other notable Neoclassical suites survive at Newby Hall, and Burton Constable, while no fewer than three beds complete with their original cut velvet hangings are to be found at Petworth. The most complete Chippendale archives are associated with his Nostell, Mersham and Harewood commissions.

  • BURLINGTON HOUSE,  London (3rd Earl of Burlington) 1747. His private account bk records under 13 October 1747 ‘to Chippendale in full £6 16s od’. The possibility has been advanced that this may refer to Thomas Chippendale of Worcestershire, a carver/frame maker active in London from 1727. [Chatsworth papers, account book 1747–51]. 
  • BULLER, JAMES. Account 29 January 1757 for £8 11s 0d. [Cornwall RO, Buller papers, bundle 337].
  • STOWE HOUSE, Buckinghamshire (Earl Temple). A bill of 14 February 1757 for a library table costing £13 13s. [Huntington Library, California, Stowe MS, STG. 144, 1756 bundle]. 
  • ARNISTON HOUSE, Midlothian, Scotland (Lord Arniston). Minor ledger entries 2 April 1757 encourage speculation that a fine ‘Director’ pattern dressing table now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery may be by the firm. [Arniston papers, House book 1757, p. 125]. 
  • EAST SUTTON PARK, Kent (Sir John Filmer). Ten ledger payments 1757–73 total £598 14s 10d. [Kent Record Office, no. VI 736 A1]. 
  • CALTHORPE, JAMES. His pocket book notes on 13 March 1758 an appointment with Chippendale. [Chippendale Society]. 
  • BLAIR CASTLE, Perthshire, Scotland (Duke of Atholl). A bill of 8 May 1758 invoices a surviving firescreen and pair of candlestands. [Blair Castle papers].
  • DUMFRIES HOUSE, Ayrshire, Scotland (5th Earl of Dumfries). The main bill May/July 1759 amounting to £647 14s 1d is followed by lesser accounts of 1763 and 1766. Nearly all the furniture survives, it is of elite quality and forms easily the best documented collection illustrating Chippendale's ‘Director’ style. [Dumfries House papers, 34/49–54–56–68].
  • DALMAHOY, Midlothian, Scotland (14th Earl of Morton). A prefatory note in the Director, 1762, states the Earl had ordered the bed featured on Pl. xxxix. 
  • SIR WILLIAM ROBINSON, 26 Soho Square and Glasshouse Street, London. Two large accounts of 1759–60 for £469 9s 1d and 1763–65 for £208 7s 9d together with four smaller bills provide a record of goods supplied and services performed when Sir William moved his London home. An inventory was compiled by Chippendale for his patron but no furniture survives. A fragment of flock wallpaper of a popular design provided by Chippendale has survived [Leeds archives dept, NH. 2785A; 2277/27; 2277/29/2–3].
  • KENURE HOUSE, Co Dublin (Sir Roger Palmer). An undocumented and elaborate chinoiserie cabinet c.1760 has been attributed to Chippendale [Christie’s, 18 June 2008, lot 8]. 
  • SIR EDWARD DERING. His accounts show payments to the firm totalling £1,162 between Dec 1760 and Feb 1770 [Hoare’s Bank]. 
  • EARL OF PEMBROKE, WILTON HOUSE, Wiltshire. and PEMBROKE HOUSE, London. The Earl is named in a prefatory note to Pl. xlvi in the Director, 1762. Receipts 1763–73 total £1,500. Three magnificent bookcases, a library table and two drawings for torchères at Wilton can be ascribed to the firm. [Wilton Estate Office, Pembroke papers]. 
  • ALSCOT PARK, Warwickshire, (James West). Two bills of 1760 and 1767 survive; the latter documents a pair of side tables costing £44 0s 8d. 
  • HESTERCOMBE HOUSE, Somerset (Coplestone Warre Bampfylde). A pier glass in ‘the Chippendale albums’ at the MMA, NY is annotated ‘for Cop Warr Bampfylde Esq'r at Hestercombe’. This design can probably be associated with a pair dispersed at the Hestercombe sale in 1872 [MMA, Acc. No. 20. 40. 1, 2 — No. 83; Christie’s, 6 July 1967, lot 43]. 
  • CRANFORD PARK, Middlesex (Countess of Berkeley). Her Drummond’s Bank accounts record that in 1761 she paid Chippendale £130 3s; her Hoare’s Bank account records payment to Chippendale on 10 June 1761 for £30; and on 1st Feb 1764 for £20. [Royal Bank of Scotland, Drummonds Branch; Hoare’s Bank]. 
  • EARL OF SUSSEX. His account at Hoare’s records a payment of £34 to Chippendale and Rannie on 6 July 1762. [Hoare’s Bank]. 
  • WOLVERLEY HOUSE, Worcestershire (Edward Knight jnr). Two note books record minor payments 1763–69 totalling £195 which may relate to certain pieces which have descended in the family. [Kidderminster Library, Knight MS Notebooks 283 and 287]. 
  • SANDON HALL, Staffordshire (Earl of Harrowby). Various ledgers record minor payments mostly for unspecified work 1763–77. A number of attributable pieces have survived. [Sandon Hall papers, vols 324, 326, 330, 337, 338]. 
  • NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE, London (1st Duke of Northumberland, and Earl Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland). Chippendale dedicated his Director to Hugh, Earl of Northumberland (created Duke in 1766) but the only proof of his patronage is an isolated payment dated June 1763 ‘Mr. Chippendale for Writing table £24’ — it has not been identified. His name also occurs in two lists of fashionable cabinet makers drawn up c. 1767 and a memorandum in Lady Northumberland's notebooks. On 16 June 1772 Earl Percy, second Duke of Northumberland paid the firm £33. [Alnwick papers, U. 1. 42; 121/60, p. 344 and 121/63; Hoare’s Bank]. 
  • SIR LAWRENCE DUNDAS. ASKE HALL, Yorkshire and 19 Arlington Street, London (Sir Lawrence Dundas). A bill of 1763–66 lists luxurious furniture costing £1,123 1s 6d; other furniture was supplied between 1766 and 1771 for which invoices have not survived; most of the finest pieces have been dispersed, including of a suite of seat furniture designed by Robert Adam and made by Chippendale in 1765 [North Yorkshire Record Office, ZNK X 1/7/19]. 
  • GOODNESTONE, Kent (Sir Brook Bridges). A cash notebook records one payment in 1765 for £177 2s. [Kent Record Office, U373/ A2].
  • CARLISLE HOUSE, Soho Square, London (Theresa Cornelys). When in 1772 Madam Cornelys, owner of the fashionable assembly rooms at Carlisle House, was declared bankrupt, Chippendale was amongst her creditors. [TNA, B1, vol. 59, pp. 164–69]. 
  • MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL, London. A notice in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 28 November 1767 states that Chippendale ‘designed and executed’ an elegant frame for R. E. Pine's (surviving) portrait of the Duke of Northumberland. The Governor's minute books record that Samuel Hayworth was paid for the frame, so Chippendale presumably supplied it on a sub-contract basis. [Middlesex Hospital archives]. 
  • GLOUCESTER HOUSE, London (H R H Prince William Henry, 1st Duke of Gloucester). An account book records payments to Chippendale 1764–66 totalling £134 15s 6d. He had dedicated the 3rd Edition of his Director to the Prince in 1762. [Royal Archives, Duke of Gloucestershire accounts 1764–67]. 
  • ROUSHAM HOUSE, Oxfordshire (Sir Charles Cotterell-Dormer). A pocket account book records small payments in 1764 [Rousham papers]. 
  • BADMINTON HOUSE, Gloucestershire (Duchess of Beaufort). A red leather bound book entitled ‘Bills & Receipts The Duchess of Beaufort’ includes a bill dated 3 March 1764 ‘for a mahogany frame 10s 6d’. [Badminton papers]. 
  • CROOME COURT, Worcestershire and 29 Piccadilly, London (Earl of Coventry). Four small bills 1764–70 exist; the earliest documents a box on frame sold at Christie's, 30 November 1978, lot 58; the last invoices a looking-glass plate to fit a frame designed by Robert Adam for the Earl's London house. [Worcestershire Record Office, Croome papers].
  • CHRIST CHURCH, Oxford. On 21 July 1764 Chippendale was paid £38 15s od for library stools; they were of X-frame design and are still in use [Christ Church Library, MS 373 f 26]. 
  • FOX-STRANGWAYS, Lady Susan. Before emigrating to New York in 1764 Lady Susan bought goods to the value of £247. [Ilchester (ed.), The Life and Letters of Lady Susan Lennox, 1901. i. pp. 148–49].
  • FOREMARK HALL, Derbyshire. (Sir Robert Burdett). Account books 1766–74 record payments of £510. Seat furniture, mirrors and a fine secretaire bookcase have been identified [Reading archives dept, D/EUB A8/2-A/8/3-A9/1; Derbyshire Record Office; Dreweatt’s sale, 21 May 1986]. 
  • CLAYDON HOUSE, Buckinghamshire. (Earl Verney). Two obscure references to Chippendale and his first partner James Rannie occur in 1771 and 1766 respectively. There are also three drawings for library bookcases possibly from Chippendale's hand. [Claydon House papers]. 
  • NOSTELL PRIORY, Yorkshireand 11 St James's Sq., London (Sir Rowland Winn). These highly important commissions initiated in 1766 and continuing until 1785 are impressively documented by letters, estimates, memoranda, accounts and drawings. Much of the furniture from the London house was sold in 1785 but the majority made for Nostell survives in situ [Nostell Priory papers West Yorkshire Archive Service, 1352 et seq.]. 
  • BURLINGTON HOUSE, London (Duke of Portland). A ledger records under 1 November 1766 ‘Chippendale for Girandoles £48 10s 0d’. These have been mistakenly identified in the past as a pair of girandoles, one in the V&A Museum and another in a private collection. [Nottinghamshire Record Office, Portland MS DD SP 3/1]. 
  • LANGTON HALL, Yorkshire (Thomas Norcliffe). A scrappy note of articles ordered from Chippendale in 1767 [Scunthorpe Museum].
  • BOYNTON HALL, Yorkshire (Sir George Strickland). Account book payment, June 1767 of £16 7s od. [Mrs L. Strickland]. 
  • HAREWOOD HOUSE, Yorkshire (Edwin Lascelles). This commission was the most notable of Chippendale's career and involved the firm for nearly 40 years from 1767. One bill amounting to £6,838 19s 1d survives, but the final figure probably exceeded £10,000. There is a Day Work Book 1769–76 recording how the firm's outworkers spent their time, also many ledger payments, relevant letters and a group of drawings at large provided for local tradesmen. Drawings for extant furniture dating from at least 1774 indicate without doubt that Chippendale Junior was responsible for the design of the firm’s distinctive and mature Neo-classical furniture [Chippendale Society Collection]. Despite many sales, the collection still illustrates a full range of Chippendale's pre-eminent Neo-classical furniture. [Leeds archives dept, Harewood papers]. 
  • MERSHAM LE HATCH, Kent (Sir Edward Knatchbull). A major commission to equip a new Wyatt house; documented by letters, estimates memoranda and bills dating from 1776 - 81. A number of progressive Neoclassical pieces, possibly designed by James Wyatt, have survived at Brocklesby Park, Lincs, and a pair of gilt armchairs, covered in contemporary French tapestry strongly suggest the hand of Chippendale Junior. Otherwise comparatively little furniture has been identified. [Kent RO, Knatchbull Bradbourne MS U957 A/18/14–33]. 
  • BOREHAM HOUSE, Essex (Richard Hoare). An account book lists four modest payments 1767–76. [Essex Record Office, D/DU 649/2]. 
  • WARWICK CASTLE(Francis Greville, Earl of Warwick). His bank account reveals a payment to Chippendale on 4th June 1767 for £85 10s. [Hoare’s Bank].
  • CLIFFORD, Lord de (Edward Southwell). His account at Hoare’s Bank reveals payments to the firm between 1768 and 1778 totalling £996. They include ‘Funeral charges’ ‘for Lord Clifford £279’ and ‘for Master Southwell £47.8’. [Hoare’s Bank; Badminton papers]. 
  • CANNON HALL, Yorkshire (John Spencer). His diary records a visit to Chippendale's shop in 1768. [Sheffield archives dept, Spencer-Stanhope MS 60633–19/JS (3)]. 
  • BRADSHAW, George Smith. His account at Drummond’s Bank reveal a payment of £21 6s on May 24 1768 [Drummond’s Bank]. 
  • GARRICK, DAVID. Between 1768 and 78 Chippendale furnished three houses for Garrick — 27 Southampton Street and 5 Royal Adelphi Terrace, London and a villa on the Thames at Hampton. The Adelphi bill totals £931: a pair of bergères and other seat furniture for the Drawing Room have been identified. Documentation of the Hampton commission is slighter but many pieces of white and green japanned furniture from this house survive — mostly at the V & A. [V & A Library, RC Q20; 86NN 4–iii, iv and VIII]. 
  • SIR GILBERT HEATHCOTE, NORMANTON PARK, Rutland; BROWNE'S HOUSE, Fulham and GROSVENOR SQUARE., London. Five accounts span 1768–79; no furniture from Chippendale Senior’s time can be positively identified, although a suite of ‘Chinese’ chairs formerly at Normanton has been attributed to his period (and an identical suite formerly at Aykley Heads, Co. Durham). A bill for Lady Bridget Heathcote's funeral is of capital interest since the coffin was photographed in 1972 and the hardware is now owned by the Chippendale Society [Lincoln Record Office, Ancaster papers; Christie’s 5 July 2008, lot 11].
  • LANSDOWNE HOUSE, London (Earl of Shelburne). A bill of 1768–69 amounts to £428 13s od together with two lesser accounts of 1770 and 1772; seven dining chairs attributed to Chippendale from Shelburne House, from an original set of fourteen, sold Christie’s 10 July 2014, lot 31. [Bowood MS].
  • KENWOOD HOUSE, Middlesex (Earl of Mansfield). In 1769 Chippendale contracted to supply looking-glass plates for two mirrors in the library; the frames were made by William France to Adam's design. [Scottish RO, Mansfield papers]. 
  • THANET, 8th Earl. His bank account records under 12 April 1769 a payment of £66. [Hoare's Bank, London]. 
  • BROCKENHURST PARK, Hampshire. (Edward Morant). His 1769 notebook records a payment of £8 18s 6d. [Morant papers]. 
  • LYDIARD TREGOZE, Wiltshire (The Hon. Col. Henry St. John). His account at Drummonds Bank reveal payments to Thomas Chippendale on 7 Jan 1769 for £60 17s; to Thomas Haig on 19 Dec 1771 for £90 13s; to Thomas Haig on 31 May 1775 for £69 [Drummond’s Bank].
  • ROCKBEARE MANOR, Devon (Sir John Duntze). No documents have been traced. A fitted serving table and pair of pedestals, conforming to the Paxton type, c 1770, survived in the house. 
  • THORESBY PARK, Nottinghamshire (Duke of Kingston). His bank account record payments between 1767 and 1770 totalling £700. [Hoare's Bank, London; Drummond’s Bank]. 
  • ELVASTON CASTLE, Derbyshire (Earl of Harrington) No documents have been traced but a fine neo Classical commode c1770 has been attributed to the firm [Sotheby’s 7 December 2010, lot 69]. It is related to at least three other undocumented commodes which have been attributed to Chippendale: at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, its ‘pair’ sold Christie’s 6 July 1995, lot 152; and the ‘Messer’ commode sold Christie’s 5 December 1991, Lot 130.
  • AMISFIELD, East Lothian (Hon Francis and Lady Catherine Charteris). Two chinoiserie daybeds c1770 now at Stanway, Glocastershire are attributed to Chippendale. They were both subscribers to the Director. 
  • SALTRAM HOUSE, Devon (Lord Boringdon). In 1771 Chippendale received three payments amounting to £225 which relate to gilt chairs and sofas in the saloon. Other furniture at Saltram can be attributed to Chippendale on stylistic grounds [Saltram papers]. 
  • GOLDSBOROUGH HALL, Yorkshire (Daniel Lascelles). Chippendale and his foreman William Reid made several trips to Goldsborough to supervise work between 1771–76. A set of 14 dining chairs are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. A pair of commodes at Harewood were formerly considered to have come from Goldsborough but this is now discounted.  [Harewood House, Yorks, Harewood MS 492; Christie’s 4 July 1996, lot 340]. 
Side chair
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

One of a set of fourteen mahogany dining chairs executed by Chippendale for Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire, c. 1772. (1996.426.1–.14). Metropolitan Museum of Art, CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain 

  • BARN ELMS, Surrey (Sir Richard Hoare). An undocumented ‘transitional’ commode from c1772 and provenanced to Luscombe, Devon, a property bought by Charles Hoare, the son of Sir Richard Hoare, first bt., in 1797, suggests a unrecorded and substantial commission possibly for his father Sir Richard Hoare of Barn Elms.  
  • HAM COURT, Upton-upon-Severn, Warwickshire (John Martin). Payments to ‘Haig & Co’ in 1786 suggest the family may have been clients at an earlier date allowing an attribution for a fine provenanced library writing table, c.1775 and a commode, c.1770. [Christie’s 19 June 1980, lot 140]. 
  • CLEVELAND COURT, London (George Selwyn). In 1772 he ordered a flower pot stand costing £1 16s od. [Castle Howard papers]. 
  • OSTERLEY PARK, Middlesex (Sir Robert Child). A secretaire (with initials MW under the carcase) veneered in Chinese lacquer and identical in construction to the documented example at Harewood enables this and a group of similar lacquer furniture at Osterley to be attributed to the Chippendale workshop. [Christie’s 3 July 1997, lot 80]. 
  • ROCHFORD, Earl of. His bank account records payments of £68 11s 0d and £75 to Chippendale in 1772 and 1773 [Coutt's Bank, L58, L59].
  • VICOUNT MELBOURNE, BROCKET HALL, Hertfordshire and MELBOURNE HOUSE, Piccadilly, London. Both houses were furnished c. 1771–76; documentation exists in the form of letters between his Lordship and Sir William Chambers and in the Journal of Thomas Mouat. Magnificent furniture survives: only the Saloon mirrors and pelmets and library bookcases remain in situ at Brocket. The commode, apparently costing £140, is now at Renishaw, Derbyshire; a pair of cabinets at Firle Place, Sussex [BM, Add MS 41135; various Christie’s sales notably 18-19 May 1802; 7 July 1994. 
  • SCAMPSTON HALL, Yorkshire (Sir William St Quintin?) A suite of undocumented dining chairs, variations on the Brocket / Nostell model, have been attributed to the workshop (Bowett and Lomax 2018).
  • NEWBY HALL, Yorkshire (William Weddell). A major but thinly documented commission of c. 1772–76. The Tapestry Room is one of several expensively furnished interiors. [Leeds archives dept, Harewood MS 490, 492; Newby MS 2980]. 
  • MANOR HOUSE, Beckenham, Kent (Henry Hoare jnr). An account at Hoare's Bank records a payment on 2 January 1773 of £63 8s 6d. [Hoares Bank]. HANOVER SQUARE, London (Sir John Frederick, 4th bt) An account dated April 2nd 1773 from Charles Ewans of St Martin’s Lane, opposite Old Slaughter’s Coffee House and a neighbour of Chippendale’s, for ‘repairing and fitting up my house £1977 10s 7 1/2d’ suggests a Chippendale attribution for one of a pair of fustic secretaire cabinets with identical gilt brass mounts to Lady Winn’s Commode, with Ronald Phillips 2018. His son the 5th bt was an important client of Chippendale Junior [Frederick archives, Surrey History Centre, Woking]. 
  • HenryDOUGLAS Esq andSir JamesCOCKBURN Bt. Their account at Drummond’s Bank records a payment of £100 (possibly on account) to Mr Chippendale in 1774 [Drummond’s Bank]. 
  • SHERBORNE CASTLE, Dorset (Earl Digby). A note of expenditure dated 1774 lists a payment of £14 6s od. [Sherborne Castle papers] 
  • TEMPLE NEWSAM HOUSE, Yorkshire (Viscount Irwin). A bill dated 10 February 1774 totals £8. [Leeds archives dept, TN EA 12/5]. 
  • PAXTON HOUSE, Berwick, Scotland (Ninian Home). One account of 1774 totals £405 6s 10d; this extensive commission is also documented in later letters. Numerous furnishings survive. [Paxton House papers]. 
  • HOME HOUSE, London (Countess of Home). A partly provenanced but undocumented pair of pedestal urns, a variation of the Paxton model has been attributed to the firm (Ronald Phillips catalogue 2018) 
  • AUDLEY END, Essex (Sir John Griffin Griffin). An account of 30 May 1774 records the purchase of a tripod table. [Essex RO, D/DBy A/32/9].
  • WILLIAM CONSTABLE, BURTON CONSTABLE, Yorkshire and MANSFIELD STREET, London (William Constable). Between 1768 and 79 Chippendale provided costly furniture for both houses some of which survives; the saloon suite at Burton Constable is sumptuous. [Hull University archives dept, Burton Constable papers]. 
  • THOMAS MOUAT, Shetland Isles, Scotland. On a visit to London in 1775 he purchased a set of mahogany chairs. [Furn. Hist., 1975]. 
  • BLAIR DRUMMOND, Perthshire (Henry Home, Lord Kames). Furniture to the value of £323-5-5d was paid for in 1776 and additional curtains and flock wallpaper costing £30-1-10d in 1778, possibly facilitated by Mrs Elizabeth Montagu [National Archives Scotland].
  • APPULDURCOMBE HOUSE, Isle of Wight (Sir Richard Worsley). Bank ledgers record that 1776–78 Chippendale was paid £2,638. Eight library chairs now at Brocklesby, Lincs relate to these payments [Hoare's Bank, London]. 
  • HALES PLACE, Kent (Sir Edward Hales, 5th bt) The account with the firm began in 1776 and continued until 1784 [Canterbury Cathedral Archives U85/25]. 
  • CASTLE HOTEL ASSEMBLY ROOMS, BRIGHTON, Sussex (Samuel Shergold). Two letters of 1777 from J. Crunden, architect, to the proprietor refer to the purchase of furniture. [Brighton Public Library] 
  • WIMPOLE HALL, Cambridgeshire. (Earl of Hardwicke). Bank books record that in 1777 Chippendale was paid £14 4s od. [Hertfordshire Record Office, E/ECd F82]. 
  • DALTON HALL, Yorkshire (Sir Charles Hotham-Thompson). A bank ledger records under 21 November 1777 the payment of £84. [Coutt's Bank: L.69 f 676].
  • PETWORTH HOUSE, Sussex and other properties (Earl of Egremont). A bill of 1777–78 in four sections headed ‘Petworth/Shortgrove/Newmarket/Town acc’ invoices goods amounting to £764 19s 10d; documented furniture at Petworth includes three beds with their original hangings. [W. Sussex RO, Petworth papers No. 6611]. 
  • DENTON HALL, Yorkshire (Sir James Ibbetson). An undated (c.1778) summary of money spent on furniture includes ‘Chippendale's Bill £551’; a marquetry commode, and en suite pair of pier tables, a set of side chairs and a sofa survive. [Chippendale Society Collection, Christie’s 22 May 2014, lot 1148].
  • THOMAS DE DE GREY 2nd, Harley Street, London. Although documentation does not survive prior to 1778, a provenanced ‘transitional’ neo-Classical commode, probably dating from the early 1770s suggests that the commission began earlier.
  • WEDDERBURN CASTLE, Berwickshire and 27 Lower Gower Street, London (Patrick Home).The firm began work on this commission before July 1779 (four months before Chippendale Senior’s death) and continued until 1787 [archives on loan to NRS GD267/31]. 
  • CORSHAM COURT, Wiltshire (Paul Methuen). A day book records under 1 November 1779 a payment ‘for the Library Table £18 16s od’. [Wilts. RO, Corsham Papers].

By James Lomax

Sources: DEFM; Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale (1978); Rosoman, ‘A Chippendale Wallpaper Discovery, Country Life, 14 Nov 1985, p. 1501; Coleridge, ‘Thomas Chippendale and Foremark Hall’, Furniture History (1997), pp.136-142; Friedman, ‘New Light on the Renishaw Commode’, Furniture History (1997), pp 143-9; Christie’s, sale catalogue, Dumfries House, 12-13 July, 2007; Lindfield, ‘New Light on Chippendale at Hestercombe House, Burlington, (July 2015), pp. 452-6; Meinertas, ‘The Portland Bill and the Mirrors’, Furniture History (2015), pp. 145-50; Adshead, ‘Miniature Architecture in Fine Wood: Chippendale and the discipline of Classical Architecture’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 59-68; Aldrich, ‘The Shakespeare of English Furniture: examining the rich mythology surrounding Thomas Chippendale’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 9 – 25; Bowett and Lomax, Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779: a celebration of British Craftsmanship and Design, catalogue of the tercentenary exhibition (2018); Bristol, ‘Recovering a ‘Lost’ Account’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 145-181; Heckscher, ‘Chippendale’s Director’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Spring 2018); Jackson, ‘A Chippendale Commission in Scotland: Blair Drummmond, 1776’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 197-207); Jones, The Paxton Style (2018); McGregor, ‘Thomas Chippendale, ingenious business leader and promoter of the cabinet-maker’s craft in eighteenth-century London: new insights from the Burney Collection of Newspapers’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 43-58; Medlam, ‘French Chairs and Other Fashions’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 69-88; Speelberg, ‘Dissecting the Director: new insights about its production, and Chippendale as draughtsman’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 27-42; Westman, ‘Who was Thomas Chippendale’s Laceman?’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 107-118; Wheeler, ‘Death in St. Martin’s Lane: new light on Thomas Chippendale’s workshop and its personnel in December 1772’, Furniture History (2018), pp. 183-196. Bowett and Savill, ‘Neo-classicism in technicolour: the Melbourne Cabinets’, Burlington (June 2019); Kerry Bristol, 'Town and Country; Rethinking Thomas Chippendale's accounts at Nostell, West Yorkshire, and No. 11 St. James 's Square, London' Furniture History (2023), pp. 239-260 .


The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.