Digitized by Microsoft

Prices,—the work of Shearer,—is evidence of the engravings being made after designs specially prepared for the Guide, probably by Hepplewhite, who may have been, and possibly was, engaged on the sketches for some years before his death. Bearing in mind that George Hepplewhite had his factory in Redcross Street to supervise, it is not unreasonable to allow a period of from six to ten years for the sketches for the plates in the Guide, especially as many bear obvious signs of having been previously made.

There is another point here, which merits some consideration, that of individuality, or style, as it is generally termed. In the chapters on Chippendale, in the second volume, the essential differences between the actual work and the style of Chippendale were insisted upon at some length. We were compelled to attempt some arbitrary scheme of classification such as this, even though it excluded many pieces actually produced by Chippendale, and included others, the work of his trade rivals. The only alternative course would have been to ear-mark every piece which emanated from the workshops in St. Martin's Lane, whether Chinese cabinets or kitchen tables, and to keep in touch with them from the date of their manufacture to the present day. This is, of course, an absurd suggestion, but there is no way other than resolving a certain number of pieces, which conform, in a more or less general sense, to certain canons of design, under

Figs. 123 and 124. HANGING SHELVES.

Plate 02 in all editions ot the Guide.

the one heading of the Chippendale style. It is inevitable that the same system should have to be adopted in the case of Hepplewhite. If we were to judge by the sole criterion of the Guide, the Hepplewhite style would have to include much that properly belongs either to Chippendale or Adam. Figs. 123 and 124, both reproduced from the Guide, are examples of this ; hanging china shelves1 very similar to Fig. 123 have already been illustrated in Figs. 345 and 346 in the second volume, under the heading of Chippendale, to which they properly belong, and Fig. 128 is characteristic of the work of Robert Adam, and considered wholly on its merits, would certainly be referred to him. The obvious fact was, that Hepplewhite, in common with the other makers of design books of this period, collected together examples of all the styles which were in vogue at the time, giving, naturally, the preponderance to such designs as pleased his own individual fancy the most, or those which represented pieces which he had actually made. It must not be

1 The following is the reference to these hanging shelves from the Guitie:—Hanc.ing Shelves.— Two designs, ■with different patterns for fretwork, are given. These arc often -wanted as Book-shelves in closets or Ladies' rooms: they also are adapted to place China on: should be made of mahogany.

1 The following is the reference to these hanging shelves from the Guitie:—Hanc.ing Shelves.— Two designs, ■with different patterns for fretwork, are given. These arc often -wanted as Book-shelves in closets or Ladies' rooms: they also are adapted to place China on: should be made of mahogany.

Figs. 125 and 126. CHAIRS.

Plate s in the first edition of the Guide. This plate does not appear in the second and third editions. (See Fig. 36 of Vol. II.)

Figs. 125 and 126. CHAIRS.

Plate s in the first edition of the Guide. This plate does not appear in the second and third editions. (See Fig. 36 of Vol. II.)

forgotten that these books of designs, with the exceptions of the Works in Architecture of R. and J. Adam,—for reasons which have already been explained,—and the Drawing Book of Sheraton,—for others which will be dealt with at a later stage,—were, first and foremost, trade catalogues, intended to illustrate and advertise the wares which their authors produced. Even the Works in Architecture was intended to advertise the practice, if not the wares, of the brothers Adam. Sheraton's Drawing Book was, perhaps, the only purely publishing speculation, as distinguished from a tradesman's risk or that of a professional man, of all the eighteenth century design books. Perhaps this is why Thomas Sheraton died, as he lived, in poverty and privation.

Of the three editions of the Guide, the third (1794) is a reprint of the second (1789). The first (1788, or rather 1787, if we are to reckon from the date of engraving) is slightly modified in the reissue, a few of the plates being omitted—Nos. 5 and 25, for instance —and others added in their place. The first edition appears to have been hurriedly prepared, and issued within two years of the death of the founder of the firm. This may account for the inclusion of certain of the designs which, whether in the manner of Chippendale or Adam, were certainly foreign to the style of Hepplewhite.

The two chairs, Plate 5 in the first edition of the Guide, are here reproduced in Figs. 125 and 126. They are an instance of how, in the hurried issue of this first edition, many

Plate 32 in all editions of the Guide.

of the current patterns of the time were requisitioned for the book, without the slightest regard for originality or the canons of any particular style. With the development of the styles of Chippendale and Adam in mind, and the general knowledge of that of Hepple-white, now under review, it would appear that these two designs were in the nature of freaks, conforming to no known style of the period. This is, however, not the case. If persistent repetition of the one class of design form maybe said to establish a definite manner—and there is no other canon by which the origin of a style can be judged—these two chairs may be described as typical Manwaring. The personality of the minor craftsmen of the eighteenth century has been so absorbed in that of their better known, although probably not more illustrious trade rivals, that we lose sight of the fact that Robert Manwaring did much to establish a style of his own. Whether his maimer is a pleasing or artistic one, or no, is beside the question ; certainly the vile draughtsmanship displayed in his published books did much to mar the appreciation of his capabilities as a designer. This book, concerning itself, as it does, with the eighteenth century styles in furniture, has perforce to accept the good with the bad. There is strong evidence in the omission of this Plate 5 from the subsequent editions of the Guide, that this style of Manwaring was acknowledged. This plate is certainly a good instance of how inaccurate a procedure it is to style everything contained in the Guide as " Hepplewhite."

Hepplewhite's style falls so naturally into three divisions, the " Adam," " French," and true Hepplewhite—all of which will be considered at greater length at a subsequent stage—that it is instructive to examine how the manner of Robert Adam in particular dominates the style of " A. Hepplewhite & Co." at the outset of that firm's post-GWrtV career. Nothing could be more characteristic of the " Adelphi " than the two side-tables, Figs. 127 and 128, Plates 32 and 33 in the three editions of the Guide. In the first the legs are reeded, with a carved small " roping" 011 the central member. The frieze is carved with rosettes and swags, centred by a tablet with triglyphed pilasters, and carved with a typical Adam vase. The second example is on a more elaborate scale, and exhibits in even greater degree the influence of Robert Adam. The frieze is panelled with alternate rosettes and vases, the under rail being decorated with an " apron-piece " of semi-rosettes and inverted fuchsia flowers. The central tablet is the weakest part of the whole design. The fluted legs are so typically " Adam " in character as to suggest that George

Figs. 129, 130, and 131. PEDESTALS AND VASES.

Plate in all editions of the Guirfr.

Figs. 129, 130, and 131. PEDESTALS AND VASES.

Plate in all editions of the Guirfr.

Hepplewhite must have been one—and not the least important—of the many cabinetmakers of the period who worked under the supervision of the brothers Adam. These side-tables, in conjunction with a pair of pedestals and urns, constituted the fashionable sideboard of the period, the self-contained single piece of furniture being left for the ingenuity of Thomas Sheraton to devise at a later date. The following reference to sideboards from the Guide may be of service in this connection :—

" Sideboard.

" The great utility of this piece of furniture has procured it a very general reception ; and the conveniences it affords renders a dining-room incomplete without a sideboard. Of those with drawers, we have given two designs; the first, on Plate 29, shows the internal construction and conveniences of the drawers; the right-hand drawer has partitions for nine bottles, as shown in the plan ; the partition is one inch and a half from the bottom ; behind this is a place for cloths or napkins the whole depth of the drawer.

"Pedestals and Vases are much used in spacious dining-rooms, where the last described kind of sideboards are chosen, at each end of which they are placed. One pedestal serves as a platewarmer, being provided with racks and a stand for a heater, and is lined with strong tin ; the other pedestal is used as a pot cupboard.

"The vases may be used to hold water for the use of the butler, or iced water for drinking, which is enclosed in an inner partition, the ice surrounding it; or may be used as knife-cases (see Plate 39), in which case they are made of wood, carved, painted or inlaid ; if used for water, may be made of wood or of copper japanned. The height of the pedestal is the same as the sideboard, and 16 or 18 inches square ; the height of the vase about 2 feet 3 inches."

Of these pedestals and vases, three examples from the Guide are reproduced in Figs. 129,130, and 131. Although usually regarded as typically Hepplewhite in character, the influence of Robert Adam will be noticed. It is curious to observe how much of this style is altered in general appearance, by the substitution of inlay for carving, which shows howr the distinctive style of Robert Adam depends more on the manner in which the decoration is applied than in the design of the ornament itself.

A comparison of the bookcase, Fig. 152, Plate 45 in the Guide, with Fig. 44, will show the general resemblance between much of the wall furniture of Adam and Hepplewhite. The reference from the Guide is as follows :—

" Plates 45, 46, 47, 48, show four different designs for Library Cases, which are usually made of the finest mahogany; the doors, of fine waved or curled wood,

may be inlaid on the panels, &c., with various coloured woods. The ornamented sash-bars are intended to be of metal, which, painted of a light colour, or gilt, will produce a pleasing and lively effect."

The above reference to the making of the sash-bars in metal is one which will be further considered when the work of Thomas Sheraton is reviewed. It is obvious from even a casual study of the cabinet work of this period that this trellis work—which is one of the most important characteristics of eighteenth century cabinets and bookcases— was not made in metal, but in wood, and to an experienced cabinet-maker the process of manufacture is quite a simple one. To the novice, however—and in this category must be classed both Sheraton and Hepplewhite—it is difficult to imagine how the requisite degree of strength could be obtained in a mitred lattice of wood. As the whole process will be fully explained at a later stage, it would involve needless recapitulation to anticipate here, but it is necessary to point out that the firm of " A. Hepplewhite & Co." in 1788 were ignorant of the way to make these door-lattices of wood, and from the vagueness of the term " metal " they were equally ignorant of the method of making them at all. Possibly these designs were inserted as baits for wealthy persons, the idea being to consider the knotty problem of manufacture only when an order was obtained, when the assistance of the workshop could be requisitioned. One seeks in vain in the text to the Guide for any mention of the designs contained therein being made after pre-existing models—although there is some internal evidence, particularly in the case of chairs and settees, that such was the case—the only persistent claim being for the novelty of the patterns. Thus :—

" Preface.

"To unite elegance and utility, and blend the useful with the agreeable, has ever been considered a difficult but an honourable task. How far we have succeeded in the following work it becomes us not to say, but rather to leave it, with all due deference, to the determination of the Public at large. . . .

" To Residents in London, though our drawings are all new, yet, as we designedly followed the latest or most prevailing fashion only, purposely omitting such articles whose recommendation was mere novelty, and perhaps a violation of all established rule, the production of whim at the instance of caprice, whose appetite must ever suffer disappointment if any similar thing had been previously thought of ; we say, having regularly avoided these fancies, and steadily adhered to such articles only as are of general use and service, one principal hope for favour and encouragement will be in having combined near three hundred different patterns for furniture in so small a space, and at so small a price."

129 r

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment