The bill was for the famous actor, playwright and theatre manager David Garrick (1717-79) who was a major client of the Chippendale workshop.
Dating to June 27, 1770, the bill is described as “a fresh addition to the documentary record of the furniture maker’s most important patrons”.
It is the first Chippendale furniture bill to come onto the market since 1970 and the first in the TCS collection.
Bidding through dealership Thomas Heneage Art Books, it paid a hammer price of $4200 (£3080) at a Christie’s online books sale in New York that closed on October 15.
According to TCS “other bills covering the period May 1768 to January 1771 are in the National Art Library, but there is a gap in the sequence of bills between July 1769 and January 1771, into which this bill fits neatly”.
A missing link
Christopher Gilbert speculated in The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale that a lost bill could help bridge a void in the documentary record totalling more than £900 – specifically the “crucial moment when Garrick was preparing to move to his new and vastly grander house on Robert Adam’s Adelphi”. This bill goes some way in filling part of the gap.
The furniture detailed in the bill (likely written in a secretarial hand) was destined either for Garrick’s Southampton Street house or for his villa at Hampton. It is mostly of an “unspectacular, domestic nature, and includes charges for filling pillows and for second-hand furniture”.
Chippendale accepted a partial payment of £32 which included a 10 shilling allowance “on two book shelfs” and then on June 27 acknowledged receipt of an additional £24-12-11 to settle the account as well as a “further sum of fifteen pounds Eight Shilling and Eight pence on Account” – presumably for future work.
Although Garrick commissioned furniture from Chippendale from at least 1768 until his death in 1779, the actor and cabinet maker had a strained relationship. Garrick was slow to settle his bills (there is some evidence he was sued for non-payment) while his wife complained of overcharging.
TSC owns two pieces of furniture made for Garrick, a small bookcase and a half-round pier table.