The Art Fund helps save rare bookcase for the nation

  • Published 29 January 2008

A rare 18th Century bookcase made by Gillows of Lancaster has been saved for the nation with the help of a £100,000 grant from The Art Fund. The charity was able to provide the grant thanks to a legacy left by the late Richard Harris, with the support of his widow Mrs Gisela Gledhill.

The exceptional mahogany bookcase was under threat of being exported and sold abroad until the Government’s Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge, intervened and agreed to place an export ban on the bookcase in September last year following a ruling by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, which confirmed the piece was of outstanding national significance.

Lancashire County Council's Museums Service raised the sum of £260,000 to acquire the piece, which will be on permanent display at Judges' Lodgings Museum as part of its extensive collection of Gillow furniture.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “This beautiful bookcase will make a wonderful addition to the Judges’ Lodgings collection of Gillow furniture, and The Art Fund is delighted that Mrs Gledhill and her co-executor have chosen to allocate her husbands’ generous legacy towards this exceptional piece of furniture.”

Described as a "Gillow masterpiece" the bookcase, which measures seven feet tall and four feet wide, was made for Mary Hutton Rawlinson, widow of wealthy Lancaster Quaker merchant, Thomas Hutton Rawlinson, in 1772. The piece has remained in the ownership of Mary Rawlinson’s descendants for more than two centuries. Portraits of Thomas and Mary Hutton Rawlinson also hang in the Judges' Lodgings.