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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 watercolour, grey wash

  • 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. 184' A detail of a frame, featuring neoclassical moulding.

'No. 183' 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. The frame features neoclassical moulding. The crest features an urn with s-scroll handles and acanthus decoration on its base. Husk festoons fall from the handles and are supported by paterae. The urn is supported by acanthus s-scrolls, a ram's head and husks.

No. 182' A design for an oval pier glass. Half of the design is barely sketched, the other half has most of the detail filled in. The frame is vertically aligned. The frame features neoclassical moulding. The crest: husks fall from a bow, onto the handles of an urn which has scroll handles. Husk festoons are supported by acanthus scrolls around the sides. The apron features husks and acanthus scrolls.

'No. 181' A half drawn design for an oval pier glass. The frame is vertically aligned. A long, narrow, urn finial is supported by an acanthus s-scroll that runs the length of the frame. Husk festoons are supported by a bow. The frame features neoclassical moulding and the apron has foliage with c-scrolls.

'No. 180' A half drawn design for an oval pier glass. The frame is vertically aligned and features a ribbon and foliage pattern. Above the urn finial there is a bow, from both of which descend husks and acanthus scrolls respectively. The apron features looping acanthus scrolls and a patera.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


mid 1770s (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Ink, pencil, yellow watercolour, grey wash

Marks and inscriptions

'No. 184' 'Mr Hamilton Back hollow Burnished'
'B/m pr pr'

'No. 183' 'Mr Hamilton'
'2 1/8'
'39' '28'

'No. 182' 'Lady Ann Conneley'

'No. 181' 'Mr Listor'
'2:6' '4:8'

'No. 180' 'Mr Listor'
'2-2' '4-4'
'Mr Allanson pier 16 1/2'


Height: 54.5 cm mount, Width: 74.6 cm mount, Height: 30.5 cm, Width: 54.6 cm

Descriptive line

4 designs for frames, with one detail of a 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; Wash



Subjects depicted

Looking glass; Pier glass; Ram's head; S-scroll; Foliage; Paterae; C-scroll; Urn; Husks


Designs; Furniture


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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