Royal & Noble

Royal & Noble

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 164. A late George II carved giltwood wall mirror, after a design by Thomas Johnson, circa 1760.

Property of a Gentleman

A late George II carved giltwood wall mirror, after a design by Thomas Johnson, circa 1760

Lot Closed

January 14, 04:41 PM GMT


15,000 - 25,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property of a Gentleman

A late George II carved giltwood wall mirror, after a design by Thomas Johnson

circa 1760

the boldly carved frame in the rococo style, with mirrored reserves, losses

212cm. high, 140cm. wide; 6ft. 11 1/2 in., 4ft. 7in.

Probably supplied to Sir Thomas Taylour, 1st Earl of Bective (1724-1795);
Thence by descent to his son Thomas Taylour, 2nd Earl of Bective (1757–1829), created Marquess of Headfort in 1800;
Thence by descent to Thomas Taylour, 3rd Marquess of Headfort (1822–1894);
Thence by descent to his daughter Lady Beatrix Stanley (née Taylour) (1877–1944) and at her London home by 1927;
Thence by descent.

Godwin Basley & Co, Inventory of the Contents of 9 Cadogan Square, London, June 1927; 'A wall mirror of Chippendale [design?] carved and gilt frame of the Chinese transition period with embellished birds etc.' in the first floor drawing-room, p.71.

By repute this remarkable mirror was supplied to the 1st Earl of Bective, possibly for Headfort, a house built to designs by George Semple, or perhaps for the Earl's London townhouse. The vendors family are descendants of the 1st Earl. Certainly there are three further stylistically similar mirrors which formed part of a distinct group from Headfort. All share some key characteristics, primarily elaborately carved frames in a flamboyant rococo style (illustrated, James Peill and The Knight of Glin, Irish Furniture, 2007, pp. 262-263, pls. 230, 232, 233 and 234)

It is particularly interesting that the present mirror, conceived in the late George II ‘Rococo’ taste, is after a design by Thomas Johnson (1714-1778) first published in 1756 and included in his Collections of Designs, 1758, plate 4 (reproduced Helena Hayward, Thomas Johnson and English Rococo, London, 1964, also as plate 4). Johnson's publication was dedicated to Lord Blakeney, 'Grand President of the Anti-Gallican Association and to the Brethren of the Order' of which Johnson was himself a member. While the Association was founded 'to oppose the insidious arts of the French Nation', it is ironic that Johnson clearly transposes elements from French patterns. Johnson’s exuberant imagination informed his fantastical designs, with recurrent motifs including dolphins, exotic birds (as evidenced in the present lot), 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 was also a highly skilled carver and gilder, and 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. It is very possible that the present mirror, offered here, could well have come from his workshop.