It was The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director, first published in 1754, that made his name and reputation. A talented draughtsman, Chippendale completed the drawings himself (many of them now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art) that were engraved for printing by Matthias Darly.
While a handful of furniture designs had been printed before, The Director was the first publication on such a large scale. The 160 plates were either bound at £1.14 shillings or loose at £1.10 shillings
The first edition of The Director attracted 308 subscribers, 49 of them members of the gentry, but the majority were fellow craftsmen (including the Affleck family in Philadelphia) who used it to inform their own work.
The book was reprinted in two further editions with the third in 1762 including updates to the styles of furniture as neoclassicism became the fashion of the day. All of Chippendale’s known commissions (with the exception of one) date from after the appearance of The Director: clearly the catalogue had its intended effect on stimulating his career.