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Exhibitions/ Chippendale's Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker

Chippendale's Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker

At The Met Fifth Avenue
May 14, 2018–January 27, 2019

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This Bulletin addresses the history of works in The Met by Thomas Chippendale, both rare drawings and furniture. 

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Exhibition Overview

Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779) has been a household name in the furniture world since the mid-eighteenth century. He is remembered today for the furniture produced by his successful London workshop as well as his influential book of furniture designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director. To celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of Chippendale's birth, this exhibition looks closely at how the unprecedented publication cemented Chippendale's name as England's most famous cabinetmaker and also endured to inspire furniture design up to the present day.

Built around works in The Met collection, the exhibition combines the original preparatory drawings from the Chippendale workshop with a selection of British and American furniture inspired by Chippendale's designs and aesthetic. The artist's legacy is presented through representations in portrait painting and revival pieces from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Chippendale-inspired chair, designed in 1984 by the architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is one of the highlights.

Accompanied by a Bulletin on Chippendale's Director by Morrison H. Heckscher, curator emeritus of the American Wing, published in concert with the exhibition.

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The exhibition is made possible in part by Richard Hampton Jenrette, and David Bartsch and Joan Haffenreffer Bartsch.

The Met's quarterly Bulletin program is supported in part by the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, established by the cofounder of Reader's Digest.

This Bulletin is made possible by the William Cullen Bryant Fellows of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in

Exhibition Objects

Related Content

Detail view of a preparatory drawing of three Gothic chair for Thomas Chippendale's "Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director"

Explore the life of Thomas Chippendale and his creation of The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director in this Timeline of Art History essay by exhibition co-curator Femke Speelberg.

Photo of a statue of Thomas Chippendale Sr. in Otley, England

In this Now at The Met article, exhibition co-curator Alyce Perry Englund recounts her travels throughout England to visit sites related to Chippendale as she prepared the exhibition.

View of a museum gallery displaying furniture designs and British and American furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries

Femke Speelberg announces the installation of a new rotation of Chippendale's drawings in this exhibition, which are on view from October 9, 2018, through January 27, 2019.

Signature image: Attributed to Benjamin Randolph (American, 1737–1792). Side chair (detail), ca. 1769. Mahogany, northern white cedar, modern upholstery, 37 x 22 1/2 x 23 in. (94 x 57.2 x 58.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Sansbury-Mills and Rogers Funds, Emily Crane Chadbourne Gift, Virginia Groomes Gift, in memory of Mary W. Groomes, Mr. and Mrs. Marshall P. Blankarn, John Bierwirth and Robert G. Goelet Gifts, The Sylmaris Collection, Gift of George Coe Graves, by exchange, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, by exchange, and funds from various donors, 1974 (1974.325). Related Content images: Thomas Chippendale (British, 1718–1779). Gothick [Gothic] Chairs (detail), in Chippendale Drawings, Vol. I, 1753. Black ink, gray ink, and gray wash, 7 13/16 x 13 1/2 in. (19.8 x 34.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1920 (20.40.1[22]) | Statue of Thomas Chippendale Sr. (detail) in Otley, England | View of the exhibition in gallery 752