William Hogarth’s 1753 work Analysis of Beauty codified twenty years of rococo design by espousing the S-curve as the “line of beauty.” The line could be seen in chair legs, engraved cartouches, and flamboyant pieces of silver and porcelain created by the silversmith Paul de Lamerie, the silversmith-turned-ceramicist Nicholas Sprimont, and the modelers with whom they worked. In the 1730s, Hogarth founded St. Martin’s Lane Academy, a drawing and design school that heavily influenced makers and modelers of silver, ceramics, and furniture. Hubert-François Gravelot, a French-born designer, taught St. Martin’s students the latest in French rococo design and the importance of drawing skills for a variety of media.
In furniture, the name Chippendale has become, not entirely correctly, synonymous with rococo design. Thomas Chippendale, a furniture maker and publisher of designs, produced pieces in a variety of styles, only some of which were rococo. In fact, much of what is called rococo in English furniture design is an applied mix of rococo, chinoiserie, and even gothic motifs with symmetrical, classic forms. Many of the pieces that were rococo in form—mirrors, pier tables, and torchères—by Chippendale, Thomas Johnson, John Linnell, and others were done in gilt gesso over sculpted wood, showing the influence of stucco workers and other Continental-trained sculptor-modelers.