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Gole, Cornelius (1657–1712)

Gole, Cornelius

London; cabinet maker (b. c.1657–d. c.1712)

Cornelius Gole was the son of Pierre Gole, cabinet maker to Louis XIV. He was presumably born in Paris and he trained in his father’s workshop, gaining his maitrise in 1681. In 1685 he supplied several pieces of furniture to Louis XIV. As well as furniture making he learned to draw, publishing sometime after 1685 an engraving of the Cabinet de la Guerre made by his father for Louis XIV. Since he was a Protestant, Gole probably left Paris after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1686, and by 1688 he was living in The Hague, where he married Jeanne Andrieu of Honfleur. As ‘Mr Goal’ he was recorded as supplying furniture to Princess Mary, wife of the Stadtholder William of Orange. He presumably followed Mary to London after her accession, together with her husband William, in 1689 and submitted his first bill to the Great Wardrobe in 1690. This was for ‘a table dolphin fashion inlaid graved and richly carved… and a pair of stands and a table finely adorned with brass graved and gilt… for the Queen’s service at Whitehall and Kensington… £100’. In August 1691 he invoiced for ‘a large table of markatree, the sides, drawer & supports carved with ornaments & flowers & finely lackred, also a pair of stands carved & Lackred suiteable’. For these £20 was charged. In the same year Queen Mary was supplied by Gole with ‘a large frame for a looking glass carved richly with ornament & flowers & inlaid with wood of all sorts of colours £14’. Also made was another frame ‘richly carved with cyphers & their Majestie's arms with an Imperial crowne & other ornaments’. These were clearly exceptional pieces, if the price is any indication of quality. Gole’s work for the Great Wardrobe was short lived, for no bills submitted by Gole survive after 1692. On 1 September 1694 Gole advertised in the Athenian Mercury: ‘Mr. Cornelius Gole gives Notice, That his Sale of Marquetry will be drawn the 18th of September next, at Mr. Keinhamer’s Dancing School, at the Two Golden Balls in Bow-street, Covent Garden, without fail, being at least three quarters full; and desires all them that are willing to have any Tickets, to come to his House in Litchfield-street in Soho, where they may see the best, and most curious work ever made in England’.

This did not, apparently, mark the end of Gole’s career as a furniture maker, however, since in 1700-01 he supplied a scriptor to Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu. He also submitted a bill for ‘teaching Master Drew to draw’, suggesting that he was still active as a designer/artist. In 1712 he published a Book of Ornament, a suite of designs for watches dedicated to the Duke of Devonshire.

No documented furniture by Cornelius Gole is known to survive. However, tentative attributions have been made for a floral marquetry table and pair of stands at Boughton and a metal marquetry suite of furniture at Grimsthorpe (illus. Turpin, Furniture History 2014), figs 3-8]. Gole’s first son, Abraham, was baptised in Stepney, Middlesex, in 1696 and a second son, Corneille Francois, was baptised in the French Church in Glasshouse Street, Soho in 1701. In 1707 a daughter, Louise Ester, was baptised in the same church. In 1710 Gole and his sister Suzanne received their letters of denization, but nothing further is known of either.

Source: DEFM; Turpin, ‘The Career of Cornelius Gole: An Unrecognized Cabinetmaker in Late Seventeenth-Century England’, Furniture History (2014).

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.