There are several ‘superstars’ of Georgian furniture, including artisans like Thomas Chippendale, Thomas Sheraton, and Giles Grendey. But there are other lesser known makers that have only recently been brought to light. William Gomm is one such character.
Gomm was a highly skilled cabinet-maker who established his workshop at Peterborough Court around 1725. In the 1730s, Gomm moved his workshop to Newcastle House in Clerkenwell Close, which had been the property of the Dukes of Newcastle. This workshop was also very close to Giles Grendey’s business in Clerkenwell Square. Gomm worked in collaboration with Abraham Roentgen in the 1730s.
One of Gomm’s most prominent patrons was the 5th Lord Leigh for the furnishings of his home at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, which included 183 pieces ranging from assorted chairs, a chest on chest, a Pembroke table, and several dressing commode tables similar to this piece. Gomm also provided furniture to Richard Hoare of Barn Elms and William Weddell of Newby Hall.
Today, three Gomm manuscript books survive at the Winterthur Library in Delaware, which include designs for furniture, an outline of the five orders of architecture, and geographical and mathematical exercises. Gomm’s furniture designs draw inspiration from Thomas Chippendale’s Director with the incorporation of gothic, rococo, and chinoiserie elements. Of particular interest with this secretaire chest is the serpentine fronted commode in the first manuscript book. This design features rococo carving on the apron and bold scrolls on the corners. The Winterthur Library has kindly agreed to let us reproduce an image of this drawing of the secretaire chest, which is shown above.
We are lucky to have a piece attributed to William Gomm in our collection that bears great resemblance with this drawing. This piece features a cross-banded top with a foliate-carved edge above a fitted secretaire-drawer with baselined writing-surface, pigeon holes, and four small drawers, with three further graduated long drawers below. The fluted angles are carved with acanthus volutes issuing trailing flowering swags and stand on bracket feet. The chest is adorned with foliate gilt brass handles.
To read more about Gomm and his furniture, an article in the Burlington Magazine from June 1980 by L. Boynton entitled ‘William and Richard Gomm’ is an excellent resource.