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Go to see the Chippendales; Examples of famous furniture-maker's genius will go on display to celebrate the 300th anniversary of his birth.

IF PURIST collectors of fine, craftsmenmade antiques were wringing their hands last week - my subject was Ikea furniture - then what follows is by way of an apology: this year marks the 300th anniversary of Thomas Chippendale's birth and historic houses and museums across the country are celebrating with, master classes, tours and exhibitions showing some pieces rarely seen by the public.

Sadly little is known of the Yorkshire man who went on to become a furniture maker to aristocrats, politicians and royalty. He was born in 1718 in Otley, 12 miles outside Leeds, the only child of John Chippendale (1690-1768) who was a joiner, and Mary (1693-1729) whose father was a stonemason.

He was educated at Otley Grammar School and was probably taught his woodworking skills by his father until he was about 21 when he became a "master craftsman".

By the 1740s, he was almost certainly working as a cabinet-maker in York. By the late 1740s, however, Chippendale had moved to London. He opened his workshop in St Martin's Lane in 1753, backed by Scottish businessman James Rannie.

Chippendale married Catherine Redshaw in 1748. The couple had nine children, although not all survived to adulthood. The eldest son, also called Thomas, later took over his father's workshop. At its peak, Chippendale's company worked with other specialists, such as the architect, Robert Adam, to furnish rooms or houses.

The key to Chippendale's success was his revolutionary book of measured designs called grandly 'The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director, Being a Large Collection of the Most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture in the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste'.

Published in 1754, of the 308 subscribers, 49 were gentry or nobility. As a means of self-promotion, it was unsurpassed, making Chippendale famous throughout Europe and North Americas, linking his name to a distinctive Rococo style and making it synonymous with quality.

In 1776 and by then in partial retirement aged 58, Chippendale moved to Kensington where he lived a humble existence in a terraced house. His first wife had died in 1772 and in 1777 he married Elizabeth Davies and had three more children.

He was taken ill and it is believed he relocated to the Hoxton area of London for treatment. He died in 1779 with little to show for his former fame. Thomas Junior was also beset by financial difficulties but managed to keep the workshop going until 1813 when the business finally came to an end.

| The John Bartlam teapot featured recently in this column, purchased for just PS15, sold for a staggering PS460,000 at Woolley & Wallis auctioneers in Salisbury, Wilts. It was purchased by London dealer Rod Jellicoe on behalf of the New York Metropolitan Museum.

A lyre back chair made for the library at Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire Photo The Chippendale Society HIGHTLIGHTS OF THE NATIONWIDE TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS earlier this month with an exhibition titled "Thomas Chippendale: A Celebration of British Craftsmanship and Design 1718-2018" at Leeds City Museum. Highlights include original drawings and documents, displays of materials and workmanship, and many examples of his peerless furniture, some on public display for the first time. It runs until June 9. Paxton House in Berwickshire holds one of the world's largest and most important collections of Chippendale furniture. "The Paxton Style - 'Neat & Substantially Good': Chippendale furniture at Paxton House, its influences and legacy" runs from June 5 to August 28. Significant loans from the V&A, the National Museums of Scotland, and several private collections will be shown alongside a programme of lectures, study days, school visits, and family-friendly activities.

Harewood House, near Leeds, built for Edwin Lascelles by John Carr of York and Robert Adam, has some of the most outstanding furniture ever produced for what was Chippendale's most important single commission. His patron was slow at settling the bill, however, and Chippendale was almost bankrupted.

The exhibition Thomas Chippendale - Designer, Maker, Decorator runs from March 24.

Dumfries House, near Cumnock in Ayrshire, contains more than 50 pieces, the largest authenticated collection of Chippendale's early work, including a bookcase valued at around PS20million. Prince Charles saved the estate for the nation in 2007, using PS20million of his charitable foundation's money to secure the future of the house and the surrounding estate.

Experts, historians and curators will give a series of talks from March to October.

The collection of Chippendale furniture at Burton Constable Hall, near Hull in East Yorkshire, was acquired by William Constable (1721-91) as part of an ambitious scheme to re-fashion the house and park in the tastes of the day.

Chippendale and the Yorkshire Craftsman", will focus on how local craftsmen assisted with the master's grand schemes for a country house, tours running throughout the year.

Other events include: | Interior Worlds: Thomas Chippendale at Nostell, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire, running from March - October 2018.

| A self-led tour of Sir Henry's Weston Park, Shropshire, in the house plus contemporary craftsmanship exhibitions.

| The newly-conserved Panshanger Cabinets at Firle Place, near Lewes, Sussex, on display June 3 to September 30.

| The Master Carvers Association exhibition of music stands made by members, June exhibition in London. | BOOKABLE tours of its Chippendale collection at Temple Newsam, Leeds, from March onwards. | A programme of events in Otley, Yorkshire, Chippendale's birthplace.

Title page from 'The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director' Photo: Victoria Hartley/The Chippendale Society Left: Two Panshanger Cabinets, circa 1773, to be displayed in the Leeds exhibition Photo: Trustees of the Firle Estate Settlement Above: There is no known portrait of Thomas Chippendale, this imaginary adorns the facade of the V&A in London Left: The Diana and Minerva commode, flanked by two cupboards, all inlaid. The two roundels depicting Diana and Minerva are inlaid with ebony and ivory Photo Harewood House Trust Above: Lady's secretaire, circa 1773, made for the State Bedroom at Harewood House Photo Leeds Museums & Galleries
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 3, 2018
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