A Magnificent Pair of George IV Library Armchairs Firmly Attributed to Gillows of London & Lancaster
Constructed in mahogany: the front legs of addorsed 'C' scrolls, confidently and exuberantly carved with foliates, conjoined by a boldy reeded front rail; the outswept arms carved with further foliates; the moulded back legs of canted scroll form, resting atop compressed oblate bun feet, with the original inset castors.
Susan E. Stuart's scholarly work. 'Gillows of Lancaster & London' of 2008, published by the Antique Collectors Club, shows a virtually identical armchair, designed for G.Bamford Esq., taken from a room setting planned by Gillows circa 1820/30, Plate E5, Volume 11, and in Plate E22, two sofas from a suite of seat furniture that is now in situ at Nostell Priory, Wakefield. Pier tables with similar legs are also shown under Plate E24.
The founder of the Gillows dynasty, Robert (1704-1772) rose from humble beginnings as a provincial joiner, and evolved into a consummate businessman following a pursuit of excellence throughout his life. Founding his business in 1730 he expanded his furniture making activities to include the direct import of quality West Indian timbers especially the finest mahogany.
His talents as both a cabinetmaker as well as innovative designer brought him early success, and, bringing his two sons, Richard & Robert, into the business, he expanded his Lancaster showroom, to include another in London’s Oxford Street. The clientele now included the Government, the aristocracy and the burgeoning middle classes. His furniture had gained its’ reputation for excellence of workmanship, and materials employed, and coupled with his insistence on being at the cutting edge of design kept the company to the fore throughout its’ one hundred and seventy year history from 1730 until its’ amalgamation with Messrs S.J. Waring in 1900.
Throughout this period it was the largest manufactory of furniture in England. The fortuitous survival of the Gillows records in their Estimate Sketch Books show over 20,000 designs and are preserved in the City of Westminster Library. Furniture made by Gillows is to be found in Royal collections and museums throughout the world. The recent publication of Susan E. Stuart’s scholarly and invaluable study on the company, published by the Antique Collectors Club is a masterpiece of its’ type, and a wonderful exegesis of the company.
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