new wood was brought to this country, a fact which has been rather overlooked; and one wonders what he was making in the way of walnut-wood cabinets before his genius had its way with mahogany. He must have learnt his trade on the Queen Anne furniture of his immediate forerunners, if he ever learned cabinet making at all: I say "if" because he is reputed to have been a wood-carver by trade, and the son of a wood-carver.
He was an artist, undoubtedly, and must have been the possessor of a considerable personality, which enabled him to inspire his work-people with his own individuality and ideas ; so we owe to him the great revolt from inlaying or veneering as a means of furniture decoration. He straightway went to carving, which had gone almost entirely out of fashion, on account of its unsuitability to the material, when faced walnut furniture took the place of solid oak.
That carving had never entirely ceased to be used on furniture we see by the familiar shell on the legs of tables and the legs and backs of Queen Anne chairs ; but less and less of it had been used, and it was little short of a stroke of genius on Chippendale's part to
MAHOGANY OCCASIONAL TABLE, WITH FRET RAIL AND BRACKETS. Ince and Mayhew. This is a beautiful example of the possibility of combining lightness with strength in mahogany furniture. The two turned rails, held together by fretwork carving, show marvellous skill in the art of cabinet making.
MAHOGANY OCCASIONAL TABLE. Chippendale. This is a good specimen of fretwork edge, and the carved rail-support is very fine.
perceive that the way to bring the new wood into fashion against its exquisitely figured and much more delicately coloured predecessor, walnut, was to return to carving. This he did in a style which was his own certainly; but even the greatest artists are invariably indebted to the work of other men who have gone before them, and to me it seems that Chippendale, in his earliest and finest work, clearly shows his indebtedness to Grinling Gibbons, and the great school of wood-carvers of Stuart times. But for the Grinling Gibbons tradition in carving, it is possible that, in order to utilise the new material, Chippendale might have gone back to the Tudor for his models of decorative carving on furniture. One thinks, with a shudder, of the effect which would have been the result ; and once again one places Chippendale on his high pedestal. He suited his workmanship to his material, and greatly as one may admire the beauty and decorative quality of Tudor carving on oak, one would dislike it on a finer wood calling for more elaborate treatment. Still it is irritating to hear Chippendale spoken of—as is often done—as a master who came suddenly into being, and produced from nothing a great period
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