Hepplewhite furniture created by George Hepplewhite, about whom little is known, ranks with Thomas Chippendale as a designer and creator of a unique and meritorious style which took hold in 1770 and extended through 1790.
As mentioned, little is known about George Hepplewhite’s life beyond the fact that he ranks among the four greatest designers of furniture of all time. Hepplewhite was consistent in his designs, refining lines, proportion and scale. As Hepplewhite refined his creations he was always mindful of the requirements of utility of his designs and practical structures.
George Hepplewhite, like Thomas Chippendale, opened a furniture shop in London. As his reputation as a designer and creator of furniture grew so did the prominence of his clientele. He became so well known that he gained the Prince of Wales as a client.
Many students of the history of furniture believe that Hepplewhite was heavily influenced by the Brothers Adam as there is a great similarity between the two styles. However, it must be noted that Hepplewhite’s style was a complete revolution from that of his predecessors, including Chippendale.
George Hepplewhite died in 1786 but it is believed that his wife kept his business running and published books of his designs. Those designs were copied and incorporated into the designs of his followers.
Hepplewhite was a proponent of curved lines. His style was clean-cut with simple outlines. Each member was slender but remained well proportioned. That said, the elevation of his designs remained as straight lines. The combination of the straight lower sections and the curved uppers made for elegant yet comfortable pieces of furniture.
There is evidence that Hepplewhite occasionally copied or imitated bits of the Louis XV style. It is said that it was George Hepplewhite who created the English version of the French design.
To learn more about the 13 Elements of the Hepplewhite Style