Dressing table c1760

Thomas Chippendale (1718 – 1779)

Rosewood (veneered and solid) and simulated rosewood graining, carved oil-gilt mahogany. Brass and ormolu mounts and ivory handles

 Accession Number LL4245

John Mayhew & William Ince - Commode

Thomas Chippendale, now the most famous name in the history of English furniture, was born and trained in Yorkshire. He arrived in London without connections or family advantages in the late 1740s. The publication in 1754 of his ‘The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director’, on which his posthumous reputation largely rests, was an astute attempt to compensate for these deficiencies and make a public bid for patronage.

By 1762, when he published a third edition, he was able to boast that some designs had been executed and had given ‘entire satisfaction’. By this time, however, he was moving away from the rococo style that dominates the ‘Director’ towards the new classicism promoted by designers such as Robert Adam.

This piece is a ‘Chinese’ variation on a rococo design published by Chippendale in the 3rd edition (1762) of the ‘Director’. It is probably one of those that he referred to when commenting on pieces being executed to his satisfaction.

It was probably made for Lady Arniston, who was a client of Chippendale’s and whose descendents sold it to Leverhulme in 1916.

Notable features of this piece include the hinged brass brackets on which the mirror moves backwards and forwards and the carved wood – not metal – open fretwork of the upper cupboard doors. The open space below the drawer would originally have had a curtain drawn across it.