Ro(d)gers, William Gibbs
Soho, London; ornamental carver and collector of antique carvings (b.1792-d.1875)
Rogers was listed as a curiosity dealer at 18 Church Street in 1832 and ‘carver and gilder and collector of ancient carvings’ at 3 Great Newport Street in 1846. He was involved with the supply of ‘Elizabethan and Dutch carvings’ as indicated in J. C. Loudon’s Encyclopaedia (1834), and employed an agent on the Continent for the purchase of ancient wooden carvings and sculpture. In 1834 he held an exhibition of his collection and in September 1843 the Art Union mentioned that he had an extensive collection of wood carvings ‘ancient and modern’ at his shop in Great Newport Street.
In the 1830s Gibbs worked for Lord Hatherton and supplied a drawing for a large oak roundel ‘to be carved in oak’ with the Hatherton crest. The drawing survives in a private collection. Rogers also worked for the Duke of Sutherland at Lilleshall, Staffordshire in the 1830s and at Chatsworth and Keele Hall. He produced carved work for the new House of Lords in the 1840s and was cited by the architect, C. R. Cockerell at the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures in 1835 as one of the foremost carvers in the country.Rogers was recommended in a letter written in 1842 by William Burns (1789-1879), an architect, to his patron O. Tyndall Bruce at Falkland House, with suggestions as to which tradesmen to visit when in London: ‘...and for the most Splendid Carvings of every Description to Mr G Rogers No. 18 Church Street Soho, where you will be charmed.’ Wm Gibbs Rogers was listed in the 1845 London Postal Directory as a cabinet carver at 155 New Bond Street and 3 Great Newport Street, Soho and in the Lord Chamberlain’s accounts for 1850. This latter was possibly for the boxwood cradle in Renaissance style which Queen Victoria lent to the Great Exhibition of 1851 (illus. Meyer (2006), p. 27). The design for the cradle was supplied by his son, William Harry Rogers. A variety of other carvings were offered at the Great Exhibition (illus. Meyer (2006), p. 52), of which Rogers was a member of the organising committee. He also exhibited at the 1853 Dublin Exhibition. There is a bracket of c.1853, likewise designed by William Harry and made by William Gibbs Rogers, in the V&A (W.28-1972).
Carved boxwood bracket, c. 1853 [W.28-1972]. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Daniel Livingstone, a carver who emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, in about 1852 and set up a successful business there, may have worked for William Gibbs as is suggested in letter Daniel wrote to the Melbourne Argus on 10 August 1861: ‘I beg leave to say that those whose experience has led them to known Mr Thomas or Mr Rodgers of London...’.
In 1873 Rogers received a pension of £50 per annum from the Civil List in recognition of his services as a wood carver. He died in 1875 and afterwards his two sons, William Harry Gibbs & G. A. Gibbs, continued to work for individual patrons and for Trollope, J. M. Levien and other cabinet makers until about 1890.
Sources: DEFM; Aslin, 19th Century English Furniture (1962); Joy, ‘The Royal Victorian Furniture-Makers, 1837-87’, The Burlington Magazine (November 1969); Gow, ‘Mary Queen of Scots Meets Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Some Problems in the Historiography of the Scotch Baronial Revival Interior’, Furniture History (1996); Meyer, Great Exhibitions. London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia. 1851-1900 (2006); Hawkins, ‘Daniel Livingstone, I Presume’, Regional Furniture (2014).