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engineered. Boynton (1995, p.20) also draws attention to Gillows‟ preference for a plain finish. Boynton goes on to explain that, by the end of the eighteenth century Gillows had already „toned down what they evidently regarded as the excessive application of inlaid motifs‟. They had started to emphasise the lines of their furniture „by a judicious use of contrasting woods‟ (Boynton, 1995, p.28). This use of a material‟s natural beauty to decorate the furniture became a distinctive feature of Gillows‟ output and the surface decoration of a Metamorphic Library Chair, may have been considered unnecessary. Throughout the eighteenth century „decoration was used sparingly, the emphasis being on the shape and form of the piece and the quality of the wood‟ (Stuart, 2008, p. 22, vol. I).


Gillows certainly had a preference for the use of fine woods and natural veneers over marquetry panels, heavy carving and applied motifs. As a major importer of fine timber, they would have had access to the very best material and they would often apply veined or figured mahogany veneers to their furniture to improve the overall appearance. With respect to the design of Gillows chairs, Boynton (1995, p. 29) notes that the firm was also fond of the tablet top-rail and the rectangular rail at shoulder height that was typical of the Trafalgar Chair form. While this design of the top-rail is a common feature of the Regency period Metamorphic Library Chair, there are some examples where the rail has been „softened‟ by rounding off the corners and by introducing an over-scrolled edge to the upper surface57. Given Boynton‟s observations this design feature would have been untypical of Gillows. According to R. S. Clouston in an article for The Burlington Magazine and interestingly entitled „Minor English Furniture Makers of the Eighteenth Century‟ he comments that, neither Robert nor Richard Gillow „ever posed as a great designer‟ but „prided themselves, and with justice, on the finish and excellence of their workmanship‟ (Clouston, 1905, p. 41). As such, their furniture appealed to the new „champions of industry‟ in Manchester and Liverpool who, despite their new-found wealth, still appreciated good value and were suspicious of the fancy London ware-rooms.


To summarise, and in the words of Richard Gillow II (1782), „Our wood & our workmen we flatter ourselves are as good if not superior to any in the kingdom and presumes you will think it reasonable that a comparison should be made of the quality as well as price‟.


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