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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. 200' A design for a pier glass. This glass is pilaster-shaped with husk festoons curled around the sides. The urn finial on the crest is flanked by two rams' head handles. The apron features a patera, acanthus scrolls, a husk festoon and husks.

'No. 199' A design for a girandole. The main feature is the urn or oil lamp with its wide, stretched sides, neoclassical moulding, a patera and husk festoon. It is flanked by rams' heads. Two candle sockets, one on each side, emerge from the bottom of the urn. There are acanthus leaves and husks below the base.

'198' A design for an oval pier glass. Half of the design is highly finished, the other half is less detailed. The frame is vertically aligned. Husk festoons fall from the handles of the urn finial and are supported by acanthus scrolls around the sides. The base of the urn is supported by two large acanthus s-scrolls with a ram's head in the centre. The base has bead and reel moulding, acanthus scrolls and husks.

'197' A design for a pier glass. There is a central circle of glass with triangles of glass emanating from this. There are 16 of these, providing the appearance of a star or a sun. The glass hangs from a chain held by a bow. Above, an alternative to the bow is provided; a ram's head with a palmette above and festoons pencilled in to the sides ('instead of the Ribn').

'No. 196' A design for a long rectangular pier glass with a serpentine top. Half of the design is highly finished, the other half is less detailed. The frame is vertically aligned. Husk festoons fall from the handles of the urn finial and are supported by acanthus scrolls around the sides. The apron features acanthus scrolls, husk festoons and husks.

'No. 195' A design for a girandole. A piece of mirrored glass forms the centre of this design. Neoclassical moulding is used on the frame. Above the glass is a large bow from which chains hang down, connected to the handles of the large urn or oil lantern situated at the bottom of the design. The urn has elongated handles and a patera over which festoons hang. Two candle sockets curl out from the base. The frame also features acanthus scrolls and husks.

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. 200' 'Dr Halifax'
'4 1/2'
'6 1/2'
'3 7 1/2'

'No. 199' 'Captn Sawyer'
'1:3' '2:10'

'No. 198' 'Captn Sawyer'
'2:10' '6:0.'

'No. 197' 'Mrs Mendes Russell Street'
'instead of the Ribn'
'10 inches'
'1 ft. 9'

'No. 196' 'Mr Smith'
'2:2' '5:10'
'Frame only [B:S:2].'
'36' '18'
'15' '18'

'No. 195' 'Mr Smith'
'1 ft 6' '5:6'


Height: 54.5 cm mount, Width: 74.6 cm mount, Height: 29.2 cm design, Width: 52.5 cm design

Descriptive line

4 designs for looking glasses. 2 designs for a girandole; 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



Subjects depicted

Leaf scrolls; Bow; Pier glass; Husks; Ram's head; Looking glass; Urn; Pilaster; Patera; Sun; Star; Girandole


Designs; Furniture


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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