Luxury Design, Past & Present
A Regency mahogany library chair by Gillows, the slender, shaped scroll back integral with the acanthus-carved scroll arms, the panelled seat rail set upon turned and reeded front legs and outswept back legs with similar decoration, all with brass castors, re-upholstered in distressed blue leather, inscribed in pencil ‘Cornwallis’. English, circa 1815.
The pencil mark ‘Cornwallis’ opens two intriguing avenues of research into the provenance of this chair. On the one hand, the main branch of the Cornwallis family were definitely Gillows’ clients. The Victoria and Albert Museum owns two1820s room settings for Earl Cornwallis (the fifth Earl, aka James Mann) in the Oxford St designs (see one of them above, not only with a similar chair but also with a Davenport behind). One is black and white for his town house in Hill Street, Mayfair, the other is in colour for his country seat Linton Park, Kent. On the other hand, Susan E Stuart in her book, Gillows of Lancaster and London, 1730-1840, Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge,