China at Harewood


The China at Harewood exhibition also displays a suite of Chinese-style japanned furniture designed and supplied by Thomas Chippendale to accompany the wallpaper.

Thomas Chippendale was born a few miles away from Harewood in Otley, to a joiner called John Chippindale (as he spelt it) and his wife Mary, the daughter of a stonemason. Chippendale (1718-1779) was one of the master craftsmen who worked with Robert Adam on many projects. Chippendale's reputation stemmed largely from his publication of furniture designs, The Gentleman's and Cabinet Maker's Director (1754).

Though he necessarily started to work within a style which has been categorised as Rococo. He was later much influenced by Adam's neo-classical style. He brought the design of English furniture to new levels of sophistication and indeed of perfection so that, perhaps for the first time, what was made in this country rivalled the more elaborate products of France. His best furniture possesses a simplicity of line, almost a chastity, which is hard to find in its French equivalents.

Chippendale's initial commisson at Harewood lasted from 1767 until 1777 and was, at around 10,000, the most valuable he ever received. By comparison at this time a housemaid earned between 8-10 per year. During the 11 years that he was at Harewood, he was also working on more than 30 other commissions. This was necessary to relieve a cash blockage, and often led to complaints that he was unable to get anything finished on time.

Some Chippendale pieces from Harewood had to be sold due to circumstances such as death duties, but despite this, his work for Harewood remains a great display of craftmanship.

Thomas Chippendale the younger (1749-1822) was the eldest son of Thomas Chippendale. He took over his father's business on his death and completed the commission of furnishing Harewood House. His work can be seen in the Gallery, Cinnamon Drawing Room and Old Library.

For further information please visit Chippendale at Harewood - a link to this website can be found in the Related Links section at the foot of this page.

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