Thomas Chippendale the Younger was the eldest son of Thomas Chippendale senior. There appears to be no record of his birth but there is evidence of his baptism at St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden on April 23 1749. At the age of four the family moved to St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden. The manuscript drawings of Chippendale the younger illustrate an excellent ability as a draughtsman even though there are no records of his attendance at drawing school. Suffice to say he would most probably have been apprenticed to his father’s firm at an early age receiving tuition in all aspects of the cabinet trade including drawing. In addition, the engraver, Matthias Darley (1741-1778), with whom Chippendale senior collaborated on The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, lived with the family at this time and he may well have taught the young Thomas.
There is documentary evidence to indicate that Thomas Chippendale the younger was involved at an early age in the business. His father retired in 1776, and he would have been well prepared to take more of the responsibility for the artistic control of the workshop and the continued involvement with customers.
A Plate from 'Sketches of Ornament' by Thomas Chippendale Junior published in 1779.
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum
In 1779, on the death of his father, Thomas the younger carried on the business with his father’s partner, trading as Chippendale and Haig and then Haig and Chippendale. This period up until the death of Thomas Haig in 1804 appears to have been successful, certainly judging by the will made by Haig in 1796. Unfortunately, Chippendale the younger was unable to meet the obligations of this will on the death of Thomas Haig and was subsequently declared bankrupt.
Chippendale the younger survived this setback and was described as ‘upholsterer and cabinet maker to the Duke of Gloucester’ in the London Trade Directory of 1805 and was still fulfilling his major commission at Stourhead in Wiltshire for Sir Richard Colt Hoare as late as 1820.
Although he married Mary Ann Whitehead on July 16 1793 at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church there appear to have been no surviving children. There are no records indicating that the business carried on after his death so it would appear that perhaps without the artistic direction, capable management and special relationship with the patrons, there was no business to continue.
After the death of his father, Chippendale the younger continued to supply the ongoing commissions maintaining a high standard of quality of design and workmanship. In the case of Harewood House the relationship continued for another twenty years after the death of Chippendale senior.
Significant new commissions came from Ninian Home at Paxton House, Sir John Frederick Bt. at Burwood Park, The Earl of Pembroke at Richmond Park, John Bruce at 13 College St., London, the Marquis of Townshend at Raynham Hall, Charles Hoare at Luscombe Castle and, perhaps his largest commission for Sir Richard Colt Hoare at Stourhead.