This exquisitely carved mirror is conceived in the George III ‘Rococo’ style popularised by Mathias Lock’s A New Book of Ornaments (1752), Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-Makers Director (1754) and Thomas Johnson’s Collection of Designs (1758). Beautifully drawn, elements of the present mirror can be seen in the output of each of these towering figures of 18th century English design. A pair of oval giltwood mirror’s surmounted with Chinese figures where supplied by Chippendale for the Drawing Room at Dumfries House, whilst a pattern of Mathias Lock in A New Book of Ornaments (1752) incorporates ho-ho birds and similar figures (fig. 1).
Perhaps the closest deign of all is that by carver and gilder Thomas Johnson (1714-1778) from his Collection of Designs (fig. 2). Johnson’s exuberant imagination informed his fantastical designs, with recurrent motifs including dolphins, exotic birds, animals from Aesop's fables and Chinoiserie figures. Evidently his talent caught the attention of Chippendale who credits him with several Rococo designs in the Third Edition of the Director. Johnson is known to have supplied mirrors in the early 1760s Through the London upholsterer George Cole of Golden Square, Soho, to Paul Methuen at Corsham Court, Wiltshire, and the Duke of Atholl at Blair Castle in the Scottish Highlands.