Elizabeth Gumley: A Pair of George I Gilt Gesso Tables
england , circa 1720
An exceptional and very rare matched pair of George I gilt gesso tables attributed to Elizabeth Gumley. The tops with re-entrant corners and carved with an elaborate design of acanthus leaves and strapwork, above a shaped frieze further similarly decorated and centred by a shell, raised on cabriole legs with boldly scrolled acanthus leaves to the knees and particularly rare inverted scroll feet.
Of identical size, one is a side table and one is a centre table, the side table having gilt gesso decoration on three sides of the frieze while the centre table is decorated on all four sides. The tops, following the same overall pattern, are different in their decorative carving, and the side table has carved beading to the legs.
The side table stamped E.G. to the underside.
The centre table:
Mallett & Son (Antiques) Ltd., New Bond Street, London
Private Collection, Chicago
The side table:
Private Collection, UK
Height: 30.31 in (77 cm) Width: 20.08 in (51 cm) Depth: 31.10 in (79 cm)
The stamped ‘E.G.’ on the underside of the side table almost certainly refers to the cabinetmaker Elizabeth Gumley (1647-1751), who was part of a renowned family of cabinetmakers in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. She worked in partnership with her husband, Peter (1674-1702), and son, John (1691-1727), producing tables, chests, japanned cabinets, and with a particular speciality in looking glasses. Dudley Ryder, a law student, commented on the Gumley’s impressive workshop in 1715 saying, ‘Went into the glass warehouse over the New Exchange. There is indeed a noble collection of looking glasses, the finest I believe in Europe.’ Their premises were at the Exeter Exchange in the Strand, in London, at the corner of Norfolk Street.
The Gumleys collaborated with the cabinetmaker James Moore in their commissions for the Royal family, including the magnificent pair of gilt gesso side tables and candlestands supplied to Hampton Court. Moore carried out commissions for a number of other prominent patrons, including the Duchess of Marlborough, the Duchess of Buccleuch, the Duke of Montagu, and the Earl of Burlington, some of which almost certainly were carried out in partnership with the Gumley firm.