My contention is, then, that Chippendale has been elevated to far too lofty a pedestal. Contemporaneously with him there were other and cleverer men in the field, who, following his example, without copying his methods, carved out a way for themselves entirely by the force of their own abilities, and created individual and distinct styles, between which and that of their great competitor there existed little or no relationship. To give him all the credit for that for which he was in no way responsible, and which, moreover, surpassed anything that he ever produced, is obviously extremely unjust to others.
We must not, however, go to the opposite extreme, and fail to accord honour where honour is due ; and it must be recognised that the way for the later eighteenth-century cabinet makers and designers was, to a certain extent, prepared by Chippendale, whose design book—"The Gentleman's and Cabinet Maker's Director," published in 1754— was really the first work of its kind of any importance to make its appearance in this country. Original copies of this are now so excessively scarce as to be practically unobtainable; even badly damaged and most imperfect ones are eagerly snapped up whenever they come into the market, which is but rarely, and " fetch " as much as .£30, ^40, and £50. The complete book has, I believe, been reproduced more than once, and even copies of the reproduction are now difficult to obtain, as dealers and collectors have only been too glad to get possession of, and pay high prices for, them.
It has already been pointed out that of Chippendale himself as an individual practically few biographical details are obtainable, but we need not concern ourselves much on that account, as they are not essential to our present purpose, though, were they available, they might perhaps enhance the
interest of our study. It is, however, of the work and not the man that we have to form an opinion as complete and correct as may be. *
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