14 Distinguishing Characteristics of Chippendale Furniture
Chippendale is distinguished by several elements, some adapted from previous or contemporary styles of the time.
- Cabriole legs with ball and claw feet.
- Straight legged pieces later in the Chippendale period.
- Sturdy construction, although not always graceful or well proportioned.
- No stretchers or under bracing was used with cabriole legs, although straight stretchers or carved lightweight stretchers were occasionally used on straight leg pieces.
- The only ornamentation on Chippendale furniture was carvings.
- No turning of the wood for the most part.
- 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.
- The upholstered seats of the chairs were wide.
- Taller pieces have broken pediments at the top, usually ornately carved with a rich design.
- Aprons and skirts on tables, chairs, and cabinets were richly carved.
- The Chinese Chippendale style is basically straight lines, carved with Chinese fretwork or giving a bamboo-like appearance.
- The wood used was mahogany. Thomas Chippendale had decided that it was the only suitable wood.
- Pilasters or quarter columns were used on the corners of case furniture.
- Serpentine, bowed or kettle-base design is recognizable on some of the richer peices.