"The Shakespeare of English Furniture"
Thomas Chippendale. The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's
Director. Being a large Collection of the most
Elegant and Useful Designs of Houshold [sic] Furniture in
the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste...To which is prefixed, A
Short Explanation of the Five Orders of Architecture, and Rules of
Perspective; with Proper Directions for executing the most
difficult Pieces, the Mouldings being exhibited at large, and the
Dimensions of each Design specified: The whole comprehended in One
Hundred and Sixty Copper-Plates, neatly Engraved, Calculated to
improve and refine the present Taste, and suited to the Fancy and
Circumstances of Persons in all Degrees of Life...London: Printed
for the Author, and sold at his House in St. Martin's-Lane...,
1754. First edition. Large folio (17.375 x 10.875 inches; 441 x 277
mm.). [2, half-title (verso bland)], [2, title (verso blank)], [2,
engraved dedication by M. Darly to "To the Right Honourable Hugh,
Earl of Northumberland, Baron Warkworth of Warkworth Castle, Lord
Lieutenant" (verso blank)], iii-x, 27, [1, blank] pages. Complete
with 161 engraved plates by Johann Sebastian Müller, Tobias Müller,
and Matthias Darly after Thomas Chippendale. Plates XXIX (29),
LXIII (63), LXXI (71), and CXXXIX (139) slightly shorter or
narrower, and possibly supplied. Title-page printed in red and
black. Decorative woodcut head- and tail-pieces. Page 21
incorrectly numbered 20. The plates are numbered I-CLX (in roman or
arabic numerals), with two plates numbered XXV, the first of
"Chinese Chairs," the second of a "Chinese Sopha," and have
the imprint "Pub. according to Act of Parliam. 1753," or "Published According to Acts of Parliament," with no date.
Contemporary calf, neatly rebacked, with original spine laid down. Covers with gilt double fillet border with gilt rosettes in the corners; spine ruled in gilt with slightly raised bands and dark brown leather label ruled and lettered in gilt; russet coated endpapers; edges sprinkled red. Binding rubbed and worn, with several scuff marks on covers; two slice marks on rear cover, with a small area renewed; corners renewed; hinges cracked. Free endleaves browned at the edges from turn-ins; front free endpaper and flyleaf, half-title, and title with small dark stains at the outer edge. Half-title with vertical crease and a few horizontal creases from the gutter; horizontal crease from the gutter into the text of the first twelve leaves, including the title, which also has a slight vertical crease. Occasional mostly light foxing, browning, and thumbsoiling; intermittent staining in the gutter lower margin of several plates; dampstain in the upper corner of several plates. A few stray ink spots. Short tear to lower margin of plate C (100); small piece torn from outer margin of plate CV (105); short (one-inch) tear to upper blank margin of plate CL (150); a few additional minor marginal tears or chips. Plate CLX (160) quite foxed and browned, with lower corner renewed, and with two short (half-inch) repaired tears at outer edge. Early ink annotations on the verso of plate CXIV (114). A very good copy. Protected in a linen clamshell case with reddish brown morocco spine label decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt.
Brunet I, column 1844. Rothschild 614. Avery Architectural Library, page 160 (describing the 1762 third edition).
"Prior to the publication of The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director in 1754 no cabinet-maker, regarded by society as mere tradesmen, had shown the audacity to issue a collection of designs comparable in scale to the lavish volumes produced by professional architects. The large folio contained 161 plates illustrating 'Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture in the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste'. It was prefaced by an explanation of the 'five orders', the rules of perspective, and extensive notes. The 'modern taste' is today termed rococo, a spirited curvilinear style incorporating naturalistic ornament. It is not known where Chippendale received his artistic education and how he learned the principles of rococo composition; maybe he was taught by Matthias Darly who was an engraver and a professional drawing-master. Chippendale's eloquent drawings for The Director eventually came into the possession of Lord Foley and most were purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1920...A series of notices, from March 1753 onwards, appeared in London and provincial newspapers, inviting the public to order subscription copies of The Director for £1 14s. 0d. bound, representing a saving of 8s. on the full price. Analysis of the 308 names in the subscription list shows that it includes forty-nine members of the nobility and gentry but that the others were nearly all practising tradesmen, plus a scattering of professional men, academics, and booksellers. A second edition with trifling corrections appeared in 1755 and a third revised and enlarged edition containing 200 plates was published in parts between 1759 and 1762. A French edition appeared at this time. Catherine the Great and Louis XV both acquired copies. The first edition had been dedicated to Hugh, earl of Northumberland, who repaid the compliment by patronizing the firm. Most copies of the second edition are dedicated to Prince William Henry, duke of Gloucester, who also ordered furniture between 1764 and 1766. Publication of The Director clearly had a stimulating effect on Chippendale's career because all known commissions (with the exception of Lord Burlington's) date from after its appearance. It was also highly influential in disseminating his designs throughout Britain, Europe, and the colonies" (James Lomax in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online).
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