Chippendale Marquetry Research

Table from Harewood House


This pier table was originally made for the Circular Dressing Room at Harewood House, north of Leeds. It was purchased by the Chippendale Society in 1976 following a sale of a number of items from Harewood. The room that it was made for is no longer in existence. The table was in a much damaged state and underwent some restoration soon after its acquisition. The colours that we see now are very different from the original ones. The dyestuffs used change as they react to their environment as well as the effects of light and ultraviolet radiation. The natural colours of the woods also change over time.

Marquetry Research

Over the years some research work has taken place to develop knowledge about Chippendale’s marquetry and the dyes that were used to make the wonderful colours. This enhances the body of knowledge about other makers working in marquetry, particularly its design and manufacture. The original colours of the marquetry have been mapped by Dr Heinrich Piening, a conservation scientist from Germany. He was brought over to Leeds by the Chippendale Society to use his analytical technique on the marquetry of the pier table and on the paint of its base. The timbers used have then been identified by two Chippendale Society committee members.

In 2018 the Chippendale Society is planning an exhibition to celebrate the fact that it is 300 years since the birth of Thomas Chippendale. One of the key features of this exhibition will be a copy of the table which happens to be one of the finest examples of Chippendale’s marquetry. Work on the reproduction of the table has started and the next stage will be to finalise the colour palette. All the procedures are being recorded and will be part of the 2018 exhibition as well as further information being available through the website.