Fine George III Mahogany Bow-Front Commode, Attributed to Gillows
A fine George III Sheraton period bow-fronted mahogany chest of drawers, almost certainly by Gillows of Lancaster and London.
English, c. 1790
The bow-fronted mahogany top, above the four long graduated drawers with original brass handles; the shaped molding 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 form of this chest conforms to the Gillows design for a commode, dated 24.10.1789, made by Cooper for the London shop (see L.Boynton, Gillow Furniture Designs from 1760 to 1800, fig. 118); and also to another design for a satinwood chest of drawers, about 1789, (ditto, plate 11). The paneled or 'framed back' of present piece is typical of Gillows case pieces (ditto, fig. 117).
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, original brasswork and the 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, was sold at Christie's, 24 May 2011, lot 317. For further related examples, see Christie's, 8 July 1999, lot 137 (realized £20,700); and Sotheby's, 27 September 2012, lot 149 (realized £32,450).
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.