205
JUMP TO LOT
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of the Artist

|
London

Manner of John Vardy
MIRROR
later mirror plate
carved and painted pine, glass
164 by 100cm., 64½ by 39½in.
1718-1765
Executed circa 1740.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Acquired from Godson & Coles, London.

Catalogue Note

This fine mirror is a true masterpiece of English 18th century design and like so much in the collection it is amongst the best of its type. The design is imbued with the characteristics of the emerging rococo style of the 1740s but is ultimately a neo-Palladian work.

Inigo Jones (1573–1652), William Kent (1685-1748) and John Vardy (1718-1765) revelled in the architecture of Renaissance Italy and the Antique. Their published designs and drawings delighted wealthy patrons, who could demonstrate their sophistication having returned from cultivating Grand Tours.

The caryatid figures appear to be lifted from plate 51 of Isaac Ware’s (1704-1766) ‘Designs of Inigo Jones and Others’ (1731) (fig. 1). A Kent design for a chimneypiece and overmantel for the Saloon at Houghton Hall, only the lower section, without caryatids, was never realised. Interestingly, the satyr mask which crowns the present mirror relates closely to a table also designed by Kent for Houghton, which Vardy reproduced in ‘Some Designs of Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent’ (1744) (fig. 2). Evidently, the designer of this mirror was particularly close to Kent and his body of work, and none was more devout a follower than Vardy. A protégé of Kent, Vardy was appointed Royal Clerk of Works for the King at Greenwich in 1736 and effectively became Kent’s amanuensis.

Other elements of the design can be more firmly linked with Vardy’s own creations, in particular, the boldly carved palm fronds which are something of a leitmotif of his. Vardy designed the famous Palm Room at Spencer House, London (1756–65) and the beaded acanthus leaves as seen on the present mirror appear prominently on the Palm Room mirrors. Further, they feature prominently on a pair of mirrors designed by Vardy for the Duke of Bolton at Hackwood Park. It is perhaps these rushes or palms which had a particular resonance with Hodgkin, echoing his penchant for exotic foliage, a theme which recurs throughout his collection and artistic output.

Howard Hodgkin, Portrait of the Artist

|
London