Chippendale

bookcases and writing-table on Plate XI. From these it will be seen that in "Chippendale" cabinet work of the more pretentious dimensions, such as wardrobes, bookcases, and the like, the " broken pediment" is frequently introduced; but I need hardly explain that Chippendale is not to be credited with the discovery of that feature, so that here again our master cannot lay claim to any degree of originality. But how vastly superior it is to anything really his own—the Pagoda-cum-" Louis-Quinze "-cum-Bouquet creations, for instance. This type of pediment, as everybody, of course, knows, was repeatedly employed by the interior architects of the days of Queen Anne, who took it direct from the revivalists of the Palladian school, who themselves obtained it from the original Italian source; so, in truth, it is as much " Chippendale " as Fijian ! In calling to mind the frequency of its adoption by "Queen-Anne " architects, we cannot but be struck by the comparative infrequency of its use in the furniture of the period during which they pursued their labours, and it is natural to look for the reason of this. Its absence is probably due to the fact that the days of massive "carcase work'1 had not yet arrived. This explanation, at the first glance, may convey little or nothing to the mind of the reader, but a moment or two's consideration will make it clear. Except on fairly large structures, such as those I have named, the " broken pediment" nearly always looks somewhat out of place; it is a feature of purely architectural origin, and first saw the light as a culminating point in stately, and more or less massive, buildings, the proportions and associations of which are instinctively brought back to our memory by these wooden suggestions of one of their leading characteristics. Thus it is that on tiny cabinets, for example, it looks incongruous.

Chippendale, however, fully understood where it should and should not be introduced, and properly appreciated its value as a decorative termination or superstructure. As a consequence, he took generous advantage of its aid, sometimes

124 STYLE IN FURNITURE

enriching it with small dentil mouldings (tiny square or oblong blocks of wood, arranged in succession a small distance apart from each other, underneath a square u member " of an ordinary moulding, and somewhat resembling a row of teeth—hence " dentil " moulding), and leading up to it by introducing a frieze of applied fret-work, as in the secrétaire on Plate IX, The centre of the pediment at the "break" was usually furnished with a broad moulding, or shelf, left plain for the reception of a bust or vase, either of which formed a capital finish. Occasionally it had some such lumpy and ugly excrescence as that on the lower bookcase on Plate IX.

Apart from this pediment, Chippendale's work of the class under consideration was peculiarly free from carving or other enrichment of any kind ; and what little he did introduce was invariably of the most restrained and pleasing character. Referring again, for a moment, to this designer's cabinet work generally, a word may be said of the cupboard doors, both large and small. Where glass was introduced—and its employment was by this time becoming more general—it was usually 44 broken up " by tracery such as that shown in one of the lower cabinets, Plate VI., in the bookcases, Plates VII., IX., and XI., and in Figs. 15 and 16, Plate VIII., drawn to a larger scale. As much of this tracery will be encountered in bookcases and similar pieces of a later period it will be well for the reader, in order to avoid confusion, to note particularly that most examples designed by Chippendale were essentially angular in character, curves being very seldom and sparingly introduced. There are, however, a few notable exceptions, one of which is portrayed in Fig. 16, Plate VIII. When the doors were not panelled-in with glass, but were of wood throughout, the larger surfaces were often relieved by applied carving, as in the upper wardrobe, Plate I., the large press, Plate III., the two secrétaires, Plate V., and other pieces shown.

Reference in Text

Chairs.

'j-cretaire.

bookcases.

Page

Door tracery.

Screen.

Table.

Page See 124 126 245

"CHIPPENDALE" 125

Earlier in the chapter I have mentioned that Chippendale was among the first cabinet makers in this country to employ mahogany for the manufacture of furniture, and I do not think it necessary for me to occupy space here by repeating the oft-told tale of the introduction of that wood into England by Dr. Gibbon, in or about the year 1742, as it is to be found in almost any encyclopaedia. So often indeed has it been repeated, in one form or another, that many people have come to believe that no furniture was ever made in mahogany prior to that date ; such people are prepared to insist most emphatically that argument to the contrary reveals lamentable ignorance. With regard to that point perhaps I need only say that I myself have actually sat in old Dutch chairs, made in mahogany, of which ample documentary evidence exists to prove conclusively that they were used by Charles the Second during his enforced exile at the Hague. But to return to Chippendale.

At the period of which I am now writing the furnishing of the British home was becoming far more extensive and varied than in earlier times, and such necessary articles as bedsteads, chairs, tables, bookcases, drawers, cupboards, and presses of different kinds, were supplemented by other pieces which partook more of the nature of luxuries, and whose services at a pinch could be very well dispensed with without any serious inconvenience, though they certainly add to the comforts of life. All manner of dainty knick-knacks crept into the furnishing show-rooms—little wall-brackets and hanging cabinets for books and china ; small " occasional" tables, girandoles, decorative pedestals, " Banner/' " Shield," and H Horse " screens, tea caddies, and the like ; and last, but by no means least, the " Grandfather's Clock." The field open to the designer and maker of cabinet work was thus vastly extended ; as a natural consequence, the opportunities he enjoyed for the exercise and display of whatever taste and ingenuity in design and skill in craftsmanship he might

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