Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) was arguably the most influential and gifted English furniture designer and cabinet-maker of the eighteenth century. Born at Otley in Yorkshire he probably arrived in London in the 1740s, where he became immersed in the world of avant-garde rococo design. In 1754 he established his renowned workshops in St Martin's Lane, which was to produce some of the finest furniture of its day. However it was his book of designs "The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director" which was to ensure his lasting fame. As the title page announced, it contains 'A Large collection of the most elegant and useful designs of household furniture in the gothic, Chinese and modern taste...to which is prefixed a short explanation of the five orders of architecture...with proper directions for executing the most difficult pieces...the whole comprehended in one hundred and sixty copper - plates, neatly engraved...' It was the first attempt by a cabinet-maker to produce such an ambitious publication, similar to fashionable architects, surveying the whole repertoire of contemporary furniture styles and intended as an advertisement of his skills. It was an instant success and was immediately re-issued as a second edition. In 1762 a much-revised third edition was also published incorporating the new neo-Classical style, which had by then come into prominence. The first edition had a limited print run of a mere 400 copies (of which over 330 were taken by subscribers in advance), so it has always been a rarity. Despite its fame and importance it has never been reprinted in its entirety until now. The Chippendale Society's own fine copy has been reproduced as an exact facsimile (to the same size and with similar paper quality) enabling scholars, collectors, and dealers to study and enjoy the genius of the 'Shakespeare of English furniture makers'.
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