Gooloowan sideboard c.1865
Cedar (Toona ciliata), lead and brass, 171.3 x 213.4 x 73.5 cm
Ipswich Art Gallery Collection. Acquired with funds donated by Wingate Properties through the Ipswich Arts Foundation, 2006

This cedar sideboard is attributed to George Dowden, one of Queensland’s earliest recorded cabinet-makers. The sideboard was part of the original furnishings of Gooloowan, an imposing mid-Victorian residence built by Benjamin Cribb in central Ipswich in 1864. It’s reasonable to assume that the sideboard was commissioned for the house as it was originally one of a pair positioned on either side of the dining room fireplace. The Gooloowan sideboard is an impressive example of regional Australian cabinet-making of the mid-nineteenth century. It features elaborate applied carvings to the backboard in the florid Rococo style popular during the mid-Victorian era. The backboard sits on a cross-banded top over three cushion-moulded frieze drawers supported on two pedestals with applied flame-figured panels and set upon plinth bases. The sideboard retains its original lead-lined cellarette drawer enclosed within the right–hand side pedestal cupboard. Outside the major centres for colonial furniture manufacture such as Sydney and Hobart, regional cabinet-makers commonly worked with less awareness of current taste and fashion, and as a consequence, regional furniture may appear less sophisticated in style and proportion. The overwhelming proportions of the sideboard’s backboard may be seen as an illustration of this. This exuberant expression of affluence and prosperity sits over a pedestal sideboard in a restrained neo-classical style more typical of the 1840s.