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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    mid 1770s (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Linnell, John, born 1729 - died 1796 (workshop of)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ink, pencil, yellow and grey watercolour

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case W, shelf 2

This design is part of a group of over 900 drawings of frames, mainly for pier glasses, overmantels, and girandoles. Many of these workshop designs share similar characteristics such as leaf scrolls and festoons of husks. Most of them are numbered, contain information about who ordered them, the date, the price (written in code), the colour of the frame and the dimensions of the finished object.

The drawings from John Linnell's workshop survive over the period 1773 to 1783. From April 1773 to August 1778, the workshop produced about twelve pieces a month. Production decreased over the next two years to 3 or 4 pieces a month. In 1783 these designs were no longer produced.

Robert Adam, a leading architect, was a key influence on the neoclassical designs of John Linnell. Linnell worked with Adam for the first time at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, and they worked together on a number of other occasions. In the early 1770s festoons of husks began to be used on pier glasses and they are very prominent within these workshop designs.

John Linnell (1729-1796) was the son of the famous furniture maker William Linnell (ca. 1703-1763). Unlike most furniture makers, John Linnell gained a design education at the St. Martin's Lane Academy, which was founded by William Hogarth in 1735. In 1750, aged 21, he joined his father's firm as a designer. On his father's death in 1763, John Linnell took over the family firm. During his lifetime John Linnell produced high quality furniture, which rivalled that of other leading furniture makers such as Thomas Chippendale, John Cobb and William Ince and John Mayhew.

Physical description

'No. 207' A design for an oval pier glass. Half of the design is highly finished, the other half is barely sketched. The frame is vertically aligned. The frame hangs from a large bow. Chains are pencilled in from the bow to the right-hand side of the mirror. The frame features neoclassical moulding, a repeating pattern of palmettes and what appears to be leaf and tongue. The frame is broad.

Above is drawn a detail of the carving on the frame.

'No. 206' A small, simple design for an oval pier glass. The frame is vertically aligned. The frame is fluted and features a bow finial.

Above is drawn a detail of the carving on the frame.

'No. 205' A design for an oval frame, possibly an overmantel. Half of the design is highly finished, the other half is less detailed. The frame is horizontally aligned. There is no apron. The palmette finial sits on a base of acanthus leaves. Above the finial is a large bow, which is connected to the acanthus scrolls on the mirror by husk festoons. Further husk festoons emerge from the bow which are looped over paterae. The sides are decorated with looping acanthus scrolls. 4 candle sockets, one on each side curl out on stems from the acanthus scrolls.

Above is what appears to be a detail of the frame.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


mid 1770s (made)


Linnell, John, born 1729 - died 1796 (workshop of)

Materials and Techniques

Ink, pencil, yellow and grey watercolour

Marks and inscriptions

'No. 207' 'Colll A' Deane'

'No. 206' 'Sr John Bridgon'
'In white [S]R/'

'No. 205' 'Ld Robt Manners'


Height: 54.5 cm mount, Width: 74.6 cm mount, Height: 30 cm design, Width: 52.8 cm design

Descriptive line

3 designs for frames, 3 details of moulding on the frame; John Linnell.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Helena Hayward and Pat Kirkham,William and John Linnell; eighteenth century London furniture makers (London, ca. 1980).
Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design, Accessions 1911, London, Printed for His Majesty’s Stationery Office 1912


Pencil; Ink; Watercolour



Subjects depicted

Husks; Palmette; Bow; Paterae; Overmantel; Looking glass; Pier glass; Leaf scrolls


Designs; Furniture


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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