A fine quality early 19th century Regency – George IV period open armchair, in solid rosewood, attributed to Gillows of Lancaster and London.
English, circa 1825.
Why we like it
This magnificent armchair of broad proportions is exquisitely embellished with profuse carving and gilding throughout, but it evokes the architecturally perfect creations of William Kent from a hundred years earlier. It certainly commands presence in a room, as probably did its owners. An extraordinary example of the late Regency craftsmanship, certainly one of the best ever made by the celebrated Gillows firm.
The design and exceptional craftsmanship of this chair closely relates to a pair of solid rosewood bergeres supplied by the Gillows firm in 1824 to Thomas John Wynn, 2nd Baron Newborough for Glynliffon, Caernarvonshire, Wales. Richly carved with florid Roman foliage in the George IV antique manner popularised by Thomas King’s, ‘The Modern Style of Cabinet Work Exemplified’, 1829, its general form is in common with the furniture at both Glynliffon and at Hackwod, Hampshire, supplied by Gillows to William, 2nd Baron Bolton in 1813. This design also relates to the suite of drawing room furniture made for a ‘G. Bamford’, the plan for which was prepared by Gillows of Oxford Street, between 1815-1835. A drawing from the plan survives in the Lancaster City Museums, showing a sofa and stool with the same bold design as the chairs.
A pair of side chairs en-suite with the present armchair is known, one of them stamped ‘H.LEE’. Henry Lee of Ogle Mews, London, (active circa 1827 – see G.Beard, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660 – 1840, 1986, p.534), who was a journeyman chair maker for Gillows and was probably commissioned to make the whole suite. His stamp has been recorded on several related sets of chairs all of which owe a debt to the designs of Gillows, including a set of six sold Christie’s, London, 27 November, 2007, lot 189.
Between 1813 to 1840 the main focus of Gillows business became the Oxford Street, London premises, where designs for very richly carved seat furniture with extravagant neo-rococo decoration became the fashion and it was at this time that Oxford Street received such prestigious commissions as the magnificent twelve armchairs for Lord Fitzwilliam’s Whistlejacket Room at Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire and the giltwood suite of seat furniture for the Red Drawing Room at Tatton Park, Cheshire.
Plate 213, Page 224 – ‘Gillows of Lancaster and London’ 1730-1840, vol 1.