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Details & Cataloguing

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection

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England
THE NOTLEY MIRROR
re-gilt, with later mirror glass
carved giltwood
156 by 99cm., 61½ by 39in.
18th century
Made circa 1730.
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Provenance

Probably that acquired from Colefax & Fowler, ‘1 antique George II mirror’ for £68, 31 January 1947, (Laurence Olivier Archive, The British Library, London, Add MS 79839)

Literature

Notley Abbey Inventory, April 1948, p. 11, drawing room, ‘An antique oval wall mirror 36" x 29½" [? sic] in gilt carved frame of floral design the pediment formed as basket of flowers and the base with cherub mask.' (The Vivien Leigh Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, THM/433/9/11).

Catalogue Note

The design of this superbly carved giltwood mirror demonstrates a confluence of styles and influences, making it an interesting transitional example of the emerging neo-Palladian taste which came to prominence during the reign of George II (r. 1727-1760).

Oval mirrors had long been popular, appearing in inventories from 1700 onwards, and the naturalistic treatment of the boldly carved fruit and flowers which cascade from cornucopia recalls the work of Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721)I. Other late Baroque traits include the lambrequin crown of the winged cherub which relates to the classicised engravings of the French émigré designer Daniel Marot (1661-1752).2

Looking forward, the unfurling acanthus leaves are a typically George II motif, whilst the chubby winged putto has a distinctly Kentian feel and might be found on any number of Palladian pieces given to the great architect. Winged putti evidently remained a fashionable motif and one can be found anchoring a design for a mirror by Mathias Lock from 17443. The Lock design is pure English rococo and perhaps reveals the natural evolution of the present mirror, which already displays a fluidity to the foliate carving.

For a related mirror with a similarly winged putto, see that illustrated Adam Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740, China, 2009, p. 299, pl. 6:65.

1Adam Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740, China, 2009, p. 299

2See Marot’s designs for mirrors in Nouveaux Livre d’ornaments pour Lutillite des Sculpteurs et Orfèvres, circa 1700.

3See Lock’s design from Six Sconces, 1744 (2nd Edition 1768)

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection

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London