IoStyle In Furniture

subtle shapings, usually "finish square" beneath the seat, and sometimes, though not very frequently, terminate in a shaped, and occasionally decorated, toe. Sometimes they form a right angle to the seat (underneath), and at others curve slightly backwards to the toe (see accompanying illustration). The backs of the " Chippendale-French " chairs always curve backwards to the top, as shown. These characteristics may be regarded as unmistakable and distinguishing features; and where they are found exactly as described we may be pretty confident in pronouncing judgment. With regard, however, to the filling in of the space between the upper part of the two back legs —that is to say the back proper—the variations to be met with are most numerous. Their number, though, need not cause any misgiving, for the variations, many as they are, and complicated as they may appear to be, are so closely allied one to another that to identify them at a glance, after even comparatively little study, is the simplest thing imaginable.

As to this filling in : a close and careful examination of the backs illustrated, comparing one with another, will result in the discovery that a certain class of shaping, closely resembling two capital C's placed back-to-back in all manner of positions—frequently inverted, sometimes "frilled," and generally terminating in scrolls or foliations—was very much favoured by this designer. The precise nature of the detail referred to is made perfectly clear by the sketch given opposite, and the method of its application may be seen by reference to the two chairs on Plate I., and others on Plates II., III., and IV» To a greater or less degree, it recurs in nearly every one, the curves being more or less accentuated as occasion demands in order to fill the space to be so decorated.

Showing shaping of back and legs as viewed from the side


It is interesting to note, in passing, the light in which this detail was regarded by Isaac Ware, a King's Surveyor, who was contemporary with Chippendale. He wrote : " It is our misfortune to see, at this time, an unmeaning scrawl of C's, inverted and looped together, taking the place of Greek and Roman Elegance, even in our most inexpensive decorations. It is called the French, and let them have the praise of it; the Gothic Shafts, and Chinese, are not beyond it, nor below it, in poorness of imagination." Ware, I need hardly say, was a disciple of the Inigo Jones school.

Showing employment of the C-form of detail

(See page 106 for reference)

Having briefly summed up the salient features of the " Chippendale-French" chair back preparatory to the examination of individual examples, let us now turn for a short space to the matter of legs. The belief is entertained by many people that Chippendale employed the square leg chiefly, to the exclusion of other forms. The prevalence of this erroneous impression is to be accounted for by the fact that, in his less expensive chairs, he usually did so ; and those, of course, constitute the class most frequently to be met with nowadays, as the number manufactured, in the natural order things, far exceeded that of the more costly type. But the

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment