The drawings of John Linnell in The Victoria & Albert Museum’ Furniture History, 1969 Vol. V, fig 46. H. Hayward
An Important and fine quality pair of George III Carved and Gilded border glass mirrors. The lambrequin cresting above shaped plates with carved borders depicting foliage, C scrolls and sprays of flowers, the shaped apron carved with further scrolls and centred by a vase holding a floral garland.
These exceptional mirrors retain their original gilding and are in superb condition throughout. They are beautifully balanced and proportioned, and were created at the beginning of the Rococo period in England.
The Rococo period was known for its dramatic and ornamental motifs that produced spectacular commissions. The original designs seen here are restrained and of great taste. They would go on to be used throughout the last quater of the 18th Century, and are still inspiring designers and architects today.
John Linnell (1729–96)
This pair of elegant and beautifully carved giltwood pier mirrors epitomises English Rococo design, as interpreted by John Linnell (1729–96).
Linnell was one of the most creative English 18th century carvers and designers. The form of the present mirrors, with the use of interlocking foliate carved C-scrolls, floral garlands and slender columnar uprights, derives from several Linnell designs from 1755 to 1760. These designs are identifiable in manuscript drawings preserved in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. (see image above)
One of John Linnell's first commissions was for a suite of furniture for Charles Somerset, 4th Duke of Beaufort' Chinese Bedroom at Badminton House.
John Linnell was also commissioned by Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Baron Scarsdale at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire. Linnell delivered furniture from c.1760.
Another important patron was the banker Robert Child. Osterley Park House, Middlesex, remains very much as it did in the eighteenth century when John Linnell supplied furniture for the Childs. Robert Adam was the architect there.
Sir John and Lady Smith
Sir John Smith was a Philanthropist, banker and politician. On leaving Eton, Smith served in the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War, seeing action in the Mediterranean, Pacific and Norwegian theatres. He studied History at Oxford in the late 1940s where he met his wife Christian, who was studying English.
Together Sir John and Christian founded The Landmark Trust in 1965, and was a culmination of their approach to conservation, and there sense that important buildings were slipping through the preservation net.
While Heritage organisations were defending grand country houses, the Smiths realised that little was being done to preserve the less appreciated, but still historically and architecturally important buildings. The trust set about purchasing such buildings. Today The Landmark Trust manages some two hundred properties.
Sir John and Lady Smith considered the Trust and their collection to be joint endeavours and, over the course of half a century, the couple were vital to the preservation of vernacular architecture, not just in Britain but in Europe and America as well