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Chippendale Mahogany Breakfront Bookcase

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Chippendale Mahogany Breakfront Bookcase

- Item No.

Outstanding in size and artistry, this rare library bookcase is a Chippendale Revival treasure

Key Features

  • This monumental Chippendale Revival bookcase exemplifies the best of English furniture craftsmanship
  • Crafted of mahogany, this Chinoiserie case boasts exceptional carving throughout
  • This massive bookcase also features a writing desk in the central drawer
  • An almost identical library bookcase can be found in The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director
  • Circa 1875
  • 14' 3 3/4" wide x 22" deep and 115" high

Item Details

  • Width:
    14' 3 3/4" Inches
  • Height:
    9' 7" Inches
  • Depth:
    22" Inches
  • Period:
    19th Century
  • Origin:
    England/Ireland
This magnificent Victorian library bookcase is a work of both massive size and monumental beauty. Crafted of Cuban mahogany in the majestic Chippendale Revival style, this dynamic breakfront reaches a width of over 14 feet and a height of over 9 feet, and displays all of the aesthetic hallmarks of Thomas Chippendale's iconic designs. 

This bookcase is a model of well-balanced, Chinoiserie design.  The large central case is flanked on both sides by four supporting cases, arranged in a staggered placement, which gives this piece a sense of depth and architectural grace. The exceptionally carved decoration is simply without compare, from the open acanthus leaf, opposing C-scroll cresting and pierced fretwork gallery to the five pairs of Gothic arched astragal glazed paneled glass doors and ten scrolled panel moulded doors. As functional as it is beautiful, the bookcase features a writing slide, cleverly concealed within the central drawer. Compartments for pen and ink are neatly set inside next to a leather-lined writing surface, which can be set at an angle and further conceals two secret drawers.  

The name of Thomas Chippendale is most closely associated with English Rococo-style furniture. More than a simple cabinetmaker, he was an innovator and visionary. His name has become synonymous with a distinguishable style not because the furniture was made by him or his factory, but because of his foresight in publishing his incredible designs. In 1754, he published the first of three editions of The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, the first catalogue of furniture design. This catalogue allowed wealthy patrons to pick out particular elements for their furniture and to have it custom made for them by the Chippendale workshop. The Chippendale style reflected many elements of the Rococo, Chinese (called Chinoiserie), Gothic and, later, the Neoclassical styles. So popular were the designs with the wealthy class of the mid-18th century that soon other furniture makers were using The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director as a pattern book for their own shops. This book is probably the major reason he is one of the world's best-known and respected furniture makers to ever live.

A library bookcase with an almost identical cornice and frieze can be found in The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1761, design no. VCVIII.

Circa 1875

171 3/4" wide x 22" deep and 115" high

Since the Restoration of the monarchy, there had been some interest in Chinese-style design forms in England. Called "chinoiserie" in French, this style had evolved into a popular craze by the middle of the 18th century, the period of Georgian furniture, when designers such as Thomas Chippendale, were only too happy to cater to. By the mid-1750s, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were sporting "Chinese Pavilions and Boxes", and several design books, including Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director, featured a number of Chinese designs.

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Price: $228,500
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