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GILLOWS FURNITURE FOR PORDEN'S EATON HALL
Designed in the Gothic taste, this group of Gillows furniture was almost certainly commissioned around 1813 by Robert Grosvenor, 2nd Earl and later 1st Marquess of Westminster (d.1845). Its 'gothic' columns and arcades harmonise directly with the new Eaton Hall's architecture, introduced from 1803 by the architect William Porden (d.1822), who had previously served as a draughtsman in James Wyatt's architectural office.
Originally from an extensive suite of furniture supplied for the bedroom apartments both at Eaton and Grosvenor House, each bedroom was probably furnished with a low press or wardrobe, writing-table and pot cupboards. Further pieces en suite, stamped GILLOWS LANCASTER and forming part of what was clearly an extensive ccommission, remain in the collection at Eaton Hall. Interestingly, while a sketch for a Gothic dressing-table from this suite appears in Gillows' Estimate Sketch Book, dated 5 October 1813, no.1938, the building accounts at Eaton would suggest that work was suspended for seven or eight years in around 1811 - probably because of the Napoleonic Wars.
Porden himself designed much of the furniture for Eaton, of which some is illustrated in Buckler's Views of Eaton Hall, 1826. Describing the West wing, the author to Buckler's guide wrote:-The remainder of this Wing is occupied by bedrooms but it will only be necessary to describe that used on state occasions. This Apartment which has dressing rooms to correspond has a vaulted celing. The frame of the bed is of mahogany and groined; its principal carved ornaments appear on clustered pillars detached from the corners... Porden's State bed was sold at Sotheby's House sale, 21 September 1992, lot 136.
Porden obviously took great pride in his furniture designs and he and Gillows obviously had a complicated working relationship, Porden expressing his disapproval of Mr Gillow in a letter of 12 November 1807. Writing to Lord Grosvenor, he says of a sideboard I have this day seen the leg which was intended for it, and have something to object to its form but more for want of originality in the design. It is with some difference the kind of leg in use 20 years ago. His interest was entirely self-interested, however, hoping to promote his son in law Mr Kay, whose taste is in itself excellent.