Hepplewhite Style (1775-1800)

The Hepplewhite style bears the name of its creator, George Hepplewhite. It was considered an elegant and trendy furniture style.

6 Hepplewhite Side Chairs
Heppelwhite style chair.

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/647772ae-26fe-4bc0-b064-e54f4ba02afd

Who was George Heppelwhite?

George Hepplewhite was an  English cabinetmaker and furniture designer whose name is associated with Neoclassicism. Not so much is known about Hepplewhite himself. After he died in 1786, his shop went on thanks to his widow, Alice. In 1788 she published a book featuring about 300 projects, “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Guide”. The book will influence cabinet makers for several years.


The cabinet-maker and upholsterer's guide. First edition.
The cabinet-maker and upholsterer’s guide. First edition.

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org

File:Hugh Ryan, Hepplewhite Drop Leaf Table, c. 1942, NGA 17901.jpg
Hugh Ryan, Hepplewhite Drop Leaf Table, c. 1942

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/9a8e2493-8583-47f7-83bc-dd45f2d7c667 by Hugh Ryan

The carving was important in his designs. He preferred satinwood and sycamore for unusual veneering. On his satinwood panels, there are  decorative paintings of Angelica Kauffman, Michael Angelo Pergolesi, and other Italian artists. Sideboards and desks were decorated with carved details employed with chaste restraint. 

Vintage bench, with (SOLD) Hepplewhite style vanity
Vintage bench, with Hepplewhite style vanity

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/75799aac-0eda-40a6-9a91-04f7dfb8ea60 by TheLivingRoominKenmore

Pair of side chairs, Painted maple with white pine, American
chairs,1795–1800- chair was based on an engraving in George Hepplewhite’s “Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide” (1788)

Image source: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/1729?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&ft=by+Hepplewhite&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=5

Characteristics of this Style

The furniture designed by Hepplewhite was a deep rethinking of the neoclassical model. He gave a beginning to a new way of conceiving furniture. Recurrent characteristics are:

  • shield-shaped chair back and delicate carving;
  • upholstered seats;
  • straight, tapered legs;
  • a gorgeous mix of classical-inspired and authentic ancient motifs;
File:Nicholas Gorid, Side Board (Hepplewhite), 1935-1942, NGA 17679.jpg
Nicholas Gorid, Side Board- George Hepplewhite style, 1935-1942

 Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/231d4a9f-78e4-4c78-bc0f-5d8704075210 by Nicholas Gorid


Info source: https://buffaloah.com/f/fstyles/fed/hepp/index.html

Leave a Reply