must not be inferred from this that Heppelwhite was one whit behind Chippendale in his desire to attain novelty ; the very reverse was the case: but he seldom sacrificed good taste to secure it. Though he favoured the curvilinear so strongly, this designer, as will presently be seen, always kept his fancy well within legitimate bounds, and very rarely indulged in what might reasonably be termed extravagance. In all his work he gives evidence of the possession, in a high degree, of a love of daintiness and refinement, combined with a strict regard for constructional conditions ; and I am very greatly inclined to the opinion that, in his eyes, such creations as the " Ribbon-Back," for example, ranked as positive abominations, and much of the quasi-Chinese cabinet work as not very much better.
It may be accepted as another rule, and one to which there are very few exceptions, that really pure and truly characteristic " Heppelwhite " chairs always have the " shield-shape " back, numerous types of which are shown on Plates I. and II. In studying these examples it must be specially noted that the curve at the top of the back is invariably unbroken ; that is to say, it forms one graceful, sinuous sweep from one extremity to the other. I desire most particularly to emphasise this characteristic of the "Heppelwhite" back, because Sheraton occasionally adopted a form similar to the "shield shape," but, so far as I have been able to discover, he always interrupted, or " broke "—as it is technically termed —the top curve by a straight line, or rectangular panel, in the centre. Reference to Figs. 6 and 15, Plate II., in the following chapter will make this essential difference perfectly clear. Furthermore, in the two styles the junction of the back legs with the lower part of the sides of the shield differs in the manner indicated by the annexed sketch. This, it is true, is a minor detail, but in questions of identification minor details often go for much, and give, so to speak, the casting vote. It will be observed that Heppelwhite, more often than not
" HEPPELWHITE " 139
"finishes off" the join by introducing a tiny scroll-head, sometimes with a rosette carved upon it, and sometimes quite plain; but this feature is never to be found in genuine "Sheraton."
It is not a little difficult to distinguish between many of the productions of these two designers, for the simple reason
" Heppelwhite " support of " Shield-Back "
" Sheraton " support of " Shield-Back "
(See page 138 for refer erne)
that, in the first place, they both went to the same sources for inspiration, and, in the second, freely appropriated one another's ideas whenever they felt so disposed, or occasion demanded. On that account, if on no other, the minor distinctive features should be kept constantly in view, as a thorough acquaintance with them clears from the connois-
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