makers / George Bullock

George Bullock


George Bullock began his career as a sculptor and wax modeller, but by 1804 was running a successful furniture business in Liverpool. While resident in the North West, he purchased the Mona Marble quarry on the Welsh island of Anglesey, which occasioned Sir Walter Scott, a friend and client, to dub him "the prince of black marble island."
After a brief but notable sojourn in Birmingham, he opened, in 1812, ‘ The Grecian Gallery’ to his own design in The Egyptian Hall on Piccadilly, which quickly became a bon ton venue for art and entertainment, and was run by his brother, William.
During the Napoleonic wars - between 1803 and 1815 - wood and marble from mainland Europe was difficult to come by, but Bullock made a virtue of this shortage by using wood grown on British soil and marble hewn from British quarries. For example, a cabinet in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, made for the Duke of Atholl, used larches from the ducal estate. Bullock was praised by a contemporary critic for his use of British flora in his decoration.
"He [Bullock] has shewn," wrote Richard Brown, in his 1819 book The Rudiments of Drawing Cabinet Furniture, "that we need not roam to foreign climes for beautiful ornaments, but that we have abundance of plants and flowers equal to the Grecian, which if adopted would be as pleasing as the antique."

Some of his inspiration came from the neo classical design of Percier and Fontaine, and, ironically Bullock, a great proponent of British fabrics and patterns, supplied the furniture to Longwood House, home of the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte on the remote Atlantic island of St. Helena.
His oeuvre included works for Tew Park, Cholmondley castle, Bolton, Scone Palace, Blair Castle, Armdale Castle, Battle Abbey, Shrubland Park and Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott.
An anonymous obituarist in a magazine of the time, praised him as one "who carried taste, in design of furniture, to a higher pitch than it was ever carried before in this country."