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Thomas Chippendale’s

O R I G I N A L D R AW I N G S for




•• Prospectus

T HOR N W I L LOW Ars Omnia Tuetur


HOMAS CHIPPENDALE FIRST ANNOUNCED HIS PLAN TO PUBLISH THE GENTLEMAN AND CABINETMAKER’S DIRECTOR IN MARCH, 1753. HE SOUGHT FOUR HUNDRED SUBSCRIBERS. THE BOOK APPEARED IN MAY 1754 AND INCLUDED A list of the original 308 patrons. The sumptuous folio, with 160 engraved plates, is the most famous of all furniture pattern books. Today, Thornwillow Press in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art proudly announces its plan to publish for the first time Chippendale’s original pen-and-ink drawings for his 1754 volume. Of the 147 surviving drawings, 142 are at the Metropolitan. The edition is planned in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the artist’s birth, and will include a list of subscribers, together with introductory essays by Morrison Heckscher, former Chairman of the American Wing, and Femke Speelberg, Associate Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints. The drawings are the precise images from which the engravings were made, identical in every detail though, of course, printed in reverse. Yet, in another way, the two could hardly be less alike. Whereas the engravings are technically perfect, stylized and anonymous (one is hard-pressed to distinguish the work of various engravers), the drawings are vibrant and expressive: how precise the penciled geometry, how elegant the inked line, how effective the washed shadows, how unlike the rote work of a draftsman preparing somebody else’s sketches for the engraver! The drawings offer a unique window into Chippendale’s design process and the evolution of The Director. Until now, they have only been seen by

those fortunate enough to be granted access to the original drawings in the Metropolitan Museum Collection. They are, in short, essential to the canon of craft and design. On many of them, the ruled pencil lines with which they were laid out can still be discerned, confirming that they were composed according to the rules of architecture and perspective which Chippendale espoused. On them one can see the pencil lines used to locate the furniture on the page, the perspective lines to construct the outlines of the individual pieces, and the precise measurements of the different components. Only then was the drawing finished in black or gray ink and wash, the dimensions neatly transcribed. And only after that were the plate numbers, titles, signatures, and other inscriptions added—in brown ink, the handwriting more or less free-hand—and in striking contrast to the gray-toned, engraver-ready, designs themselves. As established collectors already know, Thornwillow is noted for meticulously produced hand-made books that celebrate extraordinary ideas. This edition is no exception. The introductory essays will be printed letterpress on archival paper and the drawings will be the highest quality facsimile reproductions. Twenty-five copies, exclusively for patron subscribers, will be bound in leather and hand-made paste paper. We would like to announce a larger, though still limited edition for libraries and scholars in early 2018, but before we can, we need to secure the support of twenty-five anchor patrons in order to make the project possible. As with Chippendale’s first edition 264 years ago, this project can only be realized with the support of patrons committed to the arts. Friends are invited to reserve their copies…


the edition Twenty-five Anchor Patron copies will make possible a broader edition for libraries and scholars.


To become a patron or for more information about this historic publication please contact Luke Pontifell at Thornwillow Press. (845) 569-8883

tall clock, thomas chippendale’s drawing for plate 135 in the director, 1754

Chippendale Prospectus  
Chippendale Prospectus