Chippendale lady’s secretaire made for the state bedroom at Harewood House.

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Thomas Chippendale: A celebration of craftsmanship and design, 1718-1779, is the largest exhibition the museum has assembled in recent years and includes loans from more than 40 sources – both historic houses and private collections. It has been curated by furniture historians James Lomax and Adam Bowett of the Chippendale Society at Temple Newsam.

Key pieces have come from the Royal Collection, Paxton House, Newby Hall and Dumfries House, which has around 10% of the known fully provenanced Chippendale furniture.

The Dumfries House collection, handpicked by the fifth Earl of Dumfries from Chippendale’s workshop, was almost sold in July 2007 at Christie’s before an eleventh-hour £45m rescue package headed by Prince Charles.

Auction history

Pictured here is another object with a relatively recent auction history. This lady’s secretaire was made for the state bedroom at Harewood House at a cost of £26, incorporating imported Chinese lacquer panels.

The piece – sold at Christie’s for £650,000 in 1997 – was acquired by the museum in 1999, after it was the subject of a temporary export ban. A similar secretaire, one that surfaced at Phillips Gateshead in 1993 and was later acquired by the National Trust for something in the region of £1m, now resides at its former home, Osterley Park.

The exhibition aims to tell some of the lesser-known details of Chippendale’s life, family, and career. It runs until June 9 and is free to attend.