A fine mid 18th century Chippendale period satinwood inlaid mahogany tripod table in the manner of Thomas Chippendale, having a hexagonal top with moulded edge and central circular satinwood inlay, supported on a triple cluster column; on three cabriole legs with satinwood inlaid sides, terminating in pad feet.
The Chippendale workshop supplied a number of ‘claw tables’ to their patrons’ houses, including Paxton House in Berwickshire, Scotland, and Harewood House and Aske Hall, both in Yorkshire, England. All of these tables were made of the best timbers and veneered with finely figured woods and exotic crossbanding. Tulipwood and gonçalo alves, and sometimes satinwood, were preferred for the crossbanding. The supporting column is fluted on all the known models.
The most distinctive feature specific to Chippendale seems to be the execution of the scroll feet, which are virtually identical on many models. They are drawn in a very elegant and natural manner and rest on a platform, the front of which joins with the scroll in an elegant concave sweep. The leg itself usually has flat sides and a moulded top joining the central column with finely carved scrolls.
The harmonious and pleasing design of the base of Chippendale tables is probably the reason why there appear to be few variations in Chippendale’s tripod designs.
A drawing by Chippendale dated circa 1772 for a tripod base is in the collection at Harewood House. Chippendale supplied this drawing for the estate cabinet-maker John Walker. The result was a table of Chippendale design but lacking the master cabinet-maker’s finesse. The curve of the legs is drawn beautifully but appears rather clumsy on the actual table, and the scroll feet, despite following the drawing, appear less natural and harmonious.
A bill from Chippendale to Lord Irwin at Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, dated 10 February 1774 is for such a ‘claw table’: ‘Hexagon table of very fine yellow satin wood on a neat pillar and claw – £4 14s 6d.’
It is very likely that such tables were ready-made and available to take home straight away. Tables of this type can be found in the collections at Paxton House and Harewood House, as well as many un-provenanced collections. A very beautiful satinwood example matching the description in the bill to Lord Irwin is in a private collection in Canada.
Christopher Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam and Lotherton Hall, 1978, Vol. II, p. 365, illus 459.
Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, vol. II, pp. 256-257, illus. 469-470.
Adam Bowett and James Lomax, Thomas Chippendale 1718–1779: A Celebration of British Craftsmanship and Design, 2018, pp. 150–51.
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