14 Distinguishing Characteristics of Chippendale Furniture

Chippendale is distinguished by several elements, some adapted from previous or contemporary styles of the time.

  1. Cabriole legs with ball and claw feet.
  2. Straight legged pieces later in the Chippendale period.
  3. Sturdy construction, although not always graceful or well proportioned.
  4. No stretchers or under bracing was used with cabriole legs, although straight stretchers or carved lightweight stretchers were occasionally used on straight leg pieces.
  5. The only ornamentation on Chippendale furniture was carvings.
  6. No turning of the wood for the most part.
  7. Chairs with carved backs that flared at the top (wider at top than bottom) with ladderlike stretchers or splats that joined directly to the seat stretcher.
  8. The upholstered seats of the chairs were wide.
  9. Taller pieces have broken pediments at the top, usually ornately carved with a rich design.
  10. Aprons and skirts on tables, chairs, and cabinets were richly carved.
  11. The Chinese Chippendale style is basically straight lines, carved with Chinese fretwork or giving a bamboo-like appearance.
  12. The wood used was mahogany.  Thomas Chippendale had decided that it was the only suitable wood.
  13. Pilasters or quarter columns were used on the corners of case furniture.
  14. Serpentine, bowed or kettle-base design is recognizable on some of the richer peices.