The Chippendale Society is extremely grateful for the support of the Friends of the National Libraries, which has enabled it to add a group of previously unknown drawings to its collection. They were discovered in a collection of architectural drawings bearing the bookplate of Alexander Manning (1819-1903). Manning was an Irishman who arrived in Toronto in 1834. A carpenter by training, he became one of the most successful builders and property developers in the city.
The key to this group of drawings is that depicting a pedestal and lantern (see image 1). This is the design drawing for a set of six supplied by the Chippendale firm to Harewood House, Leeds, in 1774. The pedestals are still in the house, and consequently the attribution to Chippendale is irrefutable. The drawings for the bookcase and harpsichord or piano case come from the same album or folio and are by the same hand. It is possible that they also relate to Harewood. As a group, these are the first design drawings in Chippendale’s mature neo-Classical style to be discovered. They are also the first that appear to depict marquetry decoration. These facts alone make them incredibly rare. There is nothing like them in the two principal repositories of Chippendale drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum.
Of even greater importance is that two different hands are represented. The table (image 2) and bracket are almost certainly by Thomas Chippendale Snr. Three others are by a different hand, but are nevertheless indisputably Chippendale and consequently can only be by Thomas Chippendale Jnr. Comparison with the few Chippendale Jnr drawings to survive confirms this, as does similarities with his small book of designs, Sketches of Ornament, published in 1779. Acquisitions by Gift and Purchase
These exciting drawings have now been added to the Society’s collection, which is on long-term loan to Temple Newsam House, part of Leeds Museums and Galleries. The Society plans to research them thoroughly and, in due course, publish a new account of Chippendale’s transition to neo-classicism, one that reveals Thomas Chippendale Jnr. as a major figure in the development of British neo-classical furniture.
The Society would also like to acknowledge the Headley Trust, Leeds Art Fund and Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, whose extremely generous support made the acquisition possible.