Fine George III Mahogany Serpentine Secretaire Chest of Drawers, attributed to Gillows

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Object Description

A fine George III Sheraton period serpentine fronted mahogany chest of drawers, almost certainly by Gillows of Lancaster and London.

English, c. 1790

The serpentine shaped top, veneered in beautifully figured mahogany and crossbanded in tulipwood, with boxwood and ebony line stringing, above the four long graduated book-veneered drawers, retaining the original gilt brass ring handles; the top drawer mahogany lined, fitted with partitions and lidded compartments beneath an original baize-lined writing or brushing slide. The front is flanked by slim canted corners; the shaped moulding runs along the bottom edge, the whole is raised on four slender downswept bracket feet. The backboard is triple-panelled, treated with red wash, as often seen on high-quality furniture of the 18th century.

The striking resemblance of the present chest to the Gillows’ drawings, as well as a number of  constructional and design features, common with the documented examples, including the elegant outswept feet, referred to by Gillows as ‘French’ feet, and a triple-panelled backboard, make this attribution to the Gillows firm fairly certain. The present piece’s exceptional quality, smart choice of veneers and pleasing proportions are also typically associated with the Gillows’ oeuvre.

A closely related example, stamped Gillows, but with a more modest bow front (see L.Boynton, Gillow Furniture Designs, plate 118), was sold at Christie’s South Kensington, 24 May 2011, lot 317. For further related serpentine-fronted example attributed to Gillows, see Bonhams, 11 March 2015, lot 95; and Sotheby’s, 15 May 2014, lot 308.

Established in the early 18th century, Gillows of Lancaster are among the few most celebrated English furniture makers, famed for their use of fine timbers and exceptional quality of craftsmanship.

Object History

The form of this chest conforms to a design for a dressing commode by Gillows of Lancaster, No. 11.108, dated 3.11.1789, made by Thomas Briscoe for the London shop. It is described in their Estimete Sketch Book as having a ‘framed back’ and ‘a slide on the top drawer, covered with green cloth’, hence closely related to the present piece.

Object Literature

L.Boynton, Gillow Furniture Designs from 1760 to 1800, plate 117

Object Condition

Fine antique restored condition

Object Details

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