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Title: "A waste of good wood"? : Gillows and their furniture, 1760-1800
Author: Quince, Eleanor Mary
ISNI:       0000 0001 3503 7469
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2003
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This study asks a question of three bodies of material: who were Gillows? As a furniture-making firm, working between 1760 and 1800, Gillows have been recorded within furniture history, within a biography by historian Lindsay Boynton and within their own records, their autobiography. Furniture history is viewed within this thesis as a construction, a history that both includes and excludes. Roland Barthes' exercise in the semiology of fashion. The Fashion System, is used as a means of viewing the taxonomic system of classification that the furniture historians have employed to categorise old English furniture. I assert that this, the furniture system, has sought to use style, age and author to determine the nature of eighteenth-century furniture. A discussion of how Gillows have been viewed by the furniture historians provides an image of the firm as provincial, middle class makers, followers rather than leaders in the field of eighteenth-century furniture design. From this history I move to Boynton's biography of the firm of Gillows^ Gillow Furniture Designs. 1760-1800. It is my contention that Boynton has sought to question the furniture historians' view of the firm, by reasserting their authorship over their work, introducing to us a constructed author: the Firm of Gillow, whilst at the same time trying to locate Gillows' furniture within the furniture systern. Gillows themselves have left behind an archive of their letters and books, presenting what I view as their own autobiography. By asking of this archive a series of questions, it becomes clear that the image of the firm presented to us by the furniture historians and by Lindsay Boynton is unsatisfactory. However Gillows' own story is also incomplete. Thus the differing interpretations of Gillows that these three bodies of material present to us shed light on how the story of one firm has been created and how the agendas of the individual authors have altered the tale, challenging the constructed history of furniture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available