Width: 32" 81.5cm
Depth: 18" 46cm
Each having a rectangular top with moulded edge, above three drawers. Each retaining their original brass handles. The drawer fronts having shaped aprons centered by a carved shell. The lowboys supported on four cabriole legs terminating in pad feet.
There are a number of reasons for attributing these lowboys to the firm of Gillow. They include stylistic similarities to known pieces, the exceptional quality that these tables exhibit and for which Gillow was so famous, and historic connections between the Birket’s and Gillow’s.
In terms of style, the lowboys display a number of established Gillow motifs. Although no drawings survive from this period, we know that pad feet were still being used on Gillow furniture at this time and later, as were aprons with curvaceous edges and the ‘c’ scrolls to the knees of legs. The set of Gillow walnut chairs at Leighton Hall display all these features, the feet and scrolls being directly comparable to those of the lowboys.
Particularly significant is the design and use of the shell which is strikingly similar to shells on clock cases supplied by Gillow to various clock makers. One such clock maker was Jonas Barber whose journeyman, Henry Philipson, lived at Birket Houses. Another, Joshua Horrocks was responsible for a clock whose case has also been attributed to Gillow.
The Birket’s of Lancaster were transatlantic merchant traders who had become elevated to the gentry due to the prosperous nature of their business. Documents have revealed that Gillows’ rented a wood yard from the Birket’s, and that the Birket’s bought furniture from Gillows, including pieces that were sent to clients in Antigua and Guadeloupe.
However, we believe it to be likely that some of the furniture purchased would have been for their own houses and, that from the stylistic comparisons we have illustrated here, the pair of lowboys are one such article.