A George III mahogany double-sided architects desk attributed to Gillows
Lot 59
A George III mahogany double-sided architects desk attributed to Gillows
Sold for £18,750 (US$ 31,485) inc. premium
Lot Details
A George III mahogany double-sided architects desk attributed to Gillows
The rectangular moulded double racheted top inset with a green and gilt tooled gilt leather slide, enclosing twelve alphabetically inlaid lidded and ebony banded compartments, above a kneehole recess with acanthus carved brackets and simulated panelled door, with leaf carved corners, flanked by six short drawers the opposing side with one simulated long frieze drawer, three central short drawers, flanked by a pair of simulated panelled doors, with leaf carved corners, on a plinth base, 129cm wide, 70cm deep, 81cm high (50.5" wide, 27.5" deep, 31.5" high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Private Collection, London. Purchased by the current owner's late husband over forty years ago.

    See illustrated the design for an architects table of the same proportions, which is taken from the Gillows Estimate Sketch Books dated Feb 13th 1788 (Ref: 344/94). The drawing differs with a central drawer in the kneehole, but it is described as:

    Buro Writing Table Mahg Elevating Top a Slide Lined with Cloth over the writing drawer to write upon and 12 covers in the divide of ditto, the back of ditto made of deal Panneled. £10.2.0

    This type of desk was intended for use either seated or standing. The alphabet inlaid drawers and fall front supported by quadrants were designed after a fashion popularised by Thomas Shearer's, The Cabinet Maker's London Book of Prices (1788-1803). Gillows made numerous minor variations of this form of desk during the latter part of the 18th century.

    Sir Walter Scott purchased a similar desk from Gillows for his Edinburgh house in Castle Street in 1810 and then subsequently moved it to his Study at Abbotsford in 1826. In May 1810 Scott wrote to J.B.Morritt of Rokeby Hall, Yorkshire:

    'You know I fell in love with your Library table and now the The Lady [The Lady of the Lake] has put crowns into my purse I would willingly treat myself unto the like...'

    On the 9th August Scott wrote again to Morritt:

    I must not omit to tell you that gillows table has arrived and gives great satisfaction. Every one that sees it likes it so much I dare say I shall have some commissions to send him. His bill did not much exceed yours being about £30 ready money'.

    The Gillow archives records in 1810: 'pack for W.Scott Esq., Cstle Street, Edinburgh, case containing mahogany beauroe writin table Double Elevating tops cupboard in center compleat writing drawers'. (See C.Wainwright, The Romantic Interior, Fig 162 & 163).

    See Phillips Knowle house sale, The Contents of Elm Hill, Worcestershire, 10th January 2001, lot 346 for a related architects table by William Brownrigg for Gillows of Lancaster supplied to Thomas Gibbons of Elm Hill in 1785. A further related architect's pedestal desk attributed to Gillows, but with an open kneehole, sold Christies, London, 14 September 2000, lot 202 (£24,675 inc buyer's premium).
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