Fine George III Mahogany Kneehole Dressing Table, attributed to Gillows
A most unusual English late 18th century George III period gentleman's dressing or vanity table in mahogany, attributed to Gillows of Lancaster and London,
The hinged lids opening to reveal an easel mirror and lidded compartments, above a secretaire drawer, over a kneehole of inverted serpentine outline, having a pair of tambour slides above a double depth drawer; fitted with replaced axe-head brass pulls; the whole raised on four original shaped bracket feet.
The present kneehole dressing chest shares strong similarities with the dressing table, supplied to Mr William Egerton of Tatton Park, Cheshire, by Gillows of Lancaster and London, which can be seen at Tatton Park. William Egerton (1749-1806) of Tatton Park, MP for Cheshire, ordered a '...gents dressing table with... two shaped reeded doors... and the drawer under [having] the appearance of 2 draws'. This detailed description together with the sketch, dated May 1st, 1780, are recorded in the Gillows Estimate Sketch Book (see Susan E. Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840, Woodbridge, 2008, vol. I, pp. 329-331, pl. 378, 380). The table was made by Christopher Newby of Lancaster, who worked for the firm of Robert Gillow, and cost £2.14s.9p. Strong similarities in construction and finish ('[veneered] ends and back, banded and strung top') make fairly certain its attribution to the prominent cabinetmaking firm of the Gillows brothers.
This most unusual inverted serpentine outline is known to have been used by Chippendale, especially for dressing tables in order to allow extra legroom.