THOMAS CHIPPENDALE- The “Heathcote Chairs”

  • Origin : England
  • Circa Date: 1775-1785
  • Stock No: WCH1003
  • Height: 35.25 ins 89.88 cms.
  • Width: 23.25 ins. 59.28 cms
  • price : £48,000

These chairs executed in dense Cuban mahogany and with finely defined carving are a familiar Chippendale pattern with elements unique to his work and with great attention to detail; the tapered reeded “term” legs and the carved acanthus-leaves to the base of the arm supports are distinctive features. The seat rails constructed in solid mahogany with minor variation in construction indicating the work of two craftsmen and possibly dates; Chippendale did not repeat his models exactly; the inlaid cartouches of the cresting rails are an unusual variation of his more familiar carved cartouches found on his gilt-wood models. A very similar pair of the same model, in giltwood, was supplied by Chippendale to Lord Egremont, of Egremont House in 1777 ( these are illustrated in Christopher Gilbert’s, “ The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale “ plate 87)


Provenance: From the estate of Louisa Heathcote, Friday Hill House, Chingford, Essex, a descendant of Sir Gilbert Heathcote. Sir Gilbert was a major patron of Chippendale and commissioned him to supply furniture for his residence at Normanton Hall, Rutland, and his town houses in Fulham and Grosvenor Square. Chippendale’s company also finished and directed the funeral of Sir Gilbert’s mother in 1772.

Literature :

Country Life 12.6.97, Page 126-128.

Christopher Gilbert’s, “ The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale “ plate 87

Likely to have been designed in the mid-1770s by Thomas Chippendale Junior (d. 1785), and supplied for Normanton Hall, Rutland by the St. Martin’s Lane firm established by Thomas Chippendale Senior (d. 1779) and may have been part of a suite as shown below. The Chippendale firm also supplied a set of related medallion-back hall chairs for Normanton Hall, and these feature ‘sunflower’ fluted backs that are painted with Sir Gilbert’s cypher and crest on a gold ground (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. I, pp. 248-252, and vol. II, fig. 154).

Sir Gilbert had succeeded in 1759 to the vast inheritance established by his grandfather Sir Gilbert Heathcote, 1st Baronet (d. 1733) and his father, both of whom served as members of the board of directors of the Bank of England. As well as employing the Chippendale firm in the furnishing of the Palladian mansion at Normanton Hall, he also employed them at his Mayfair house, in Grosvenor Square, London and at Browne’s House, Fulham, which he acquired in 1761. Surviving accounts indicate that the firm was still working at the latter house, at Normanton, and at Sir Gilbert’s other London properties in the late 1770’s and early 1780’s.

Although a number of payments and bills between Sir Gilbert and Thomas Chippendale still survive between 1768 and 1778, none can conclusively be linked to these chairs. The closest, although it refers to ‘large arm armed Chairs’, is that dated 7 May 1778 for providing

Tape thread and making Cases of do fringed Cmplt to 10 large arm armed Chairs, a settee 4 small Chair seats in drawing room at North End, Cutting out there 2.5.0d.”