Regency Period Beechwood Bergere Library Tub Chair Attributed to Gillows of Lancaster
An unusually rare Regency beechwood bergere library chair or bedroom chair attributed to Gillows of Lancaster.
With Classical Greek curricle form this chair is of small proportions with lipped back and classical swept arms terminating in turned ball decoration. The legs are designed with beautifully carved reeding with turned rings to the top.
The use of beechwood would suggest that this chair was once painted, most likely with a faux rosewood decoration. Given the scarcity of the wood at the period of manufacture, faux rosewood was a common feature of early nineteenth century chairs and numerous examples have since been cleaned back due to either waring of the finish or for reasons of changing tastes through the years. Owing to the patina of the chair, the finish was changed some time ago and now has a rich patina not at all dissimilar to mahogany.
Susan E. Stuart in her two volume tome on the company has a similar example (Gillows of Lancaster & London 1730 – 1840, Vol 1, pg. 230, Plate 223). The examples are further evidenced through the famous collection of Gillows furniture at Tatton Park. In this collection there are two examples which can be viewed on The National Trust Collection website (Inventory numbers: NT 1297319.1 & NT 1297454) both made from satinwood but with similarities to this example. Interestingly, the Tatton Park examples were situated in the bedroom suites of the house, which would make sense given the proportions of all of the examples discussed. Evidence of these designs are also provided within the Gillows price book records in the Westminster archive
The curricle shape was a popular design in the early part of the nineteenth century owing to the fashion for faithful renditions of classical design. Thomas Hope was the proponent for this style and the release of his work ‘Household Furniture & Interior Decoration’ in 1807 led to its wider adoption in the UK, however, strictly speaking, the French designers, Percier & Fonataine were the creators of the style as can be seen through their commissions for Napoleon Bonaparte and his immediate circle. The Chateau Malmaison of Empress Josephine just outside Paris provides some good representations of their work.