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Drawn to Success. Thomas Chippendale as Draftsman and Cabinetmaker

Femke Speelberg, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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In 1920, print curator William M. Ivins acquired over 200 drawings from the Chippendale workshop for the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The majority of these drawings are Chippendale’s personal preparatory designs for his famous book, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director.  In the past, their high quality led scholars to dismiss his authorship and suggested that the cabinetmaker must have hired someone else to visualize his designs in pen and ink. New research has shown that this is not the case. The lecture explores the important role the art of drawing played in the everyday lives of 18th century British cabinetmakers, and Thomas Chippendale in particular.

1. Side chair (one of a pair), ca. 1755–60, Unidentified British Artist

2.  Thomas Chippendale, Cabinet, from Chippendale Drawings, Vol. II, 1753

3. Thomas Chippendale, Toilet Table, from Chippendale Drawings, Vol. II, 1760


Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibit: Chippendale's Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker, May 14, 2018 - January 27, 2019 includes Chippendale's drawings shown here.