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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. 166' A design for a girandole. Half of the design is highly finished, the other half is barely sketched. Husk festoons fall from the handles of the urn finial and are supported by acanthus scrolls around the sides. The apron features a zig-zag base with husks and leaf scrolls coming off it. The frame features neoclassical moulding and a patera.

'No. 165' 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 urn finial is pear-shaped and is flanked by rams' heads. The crest and apron both feature acanthus scrolls, with husk swags hanging between them.

'No. 164' 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 urn finial has s-scroll handles from which are draped husk festoons, supported on either side by a patera, from which the husks fall. The urn sits on a base decorated with bead and reel and guilloche. The base is supported by large acanthus s-scrolls. A ram's head sits under the base, and husk festoons fall from it. Husk festoons follow the line of the mirror. The apron features acanthus s-scrolls, husks and a base with bead and reel and guilloche.

'No. 163' A design for a rectangular frame, perhaps an overmantel. The frame is decorated with ribbon, laurel and stick on the sides and top. The bottom features vitruvian scrolls with a central patera. There is no apron. Along the sides are acanthus scrolls, which support husk festoons and terminate in a patera. The crest is topped by an urn finial which is flanked by two ram's head handles. From the mouths of these heads, husk festoons fall. The base of the urn sits on a large patera which is positioned between two leaf scrolls.

'No. 162' A design for a rectangular frame with neoclassical moulding. Husk festoons hang from the scroll handles of the urn finial. The base of the urn has neoclassical moulding and there is an acanthus c-scroll either side. Husks fall the length of the mirror and loop around a patera on the apron.

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. 166' 'Mr Langdale'
'2 ft 0'
'4 - 2'

'No. 165' 'Mr Wickham'
'B:B:" in burnished gold'

'No.164' 'Mr Baring'
'2:7 1/2' '6:3'

'No. 163' 'Mr Baring'
'42 '26'
'24' '26'
'2:11' '7:8'

'No. 162' 'Sir Charles Cope - March 25th 1774 in repair'd white.'
'1:9' '4:1'
'frame only £[J].-'


Height: 54.5 cm mount, Width: 74.6 cm mount, Height: 31.2 cm, Width: 53 cm

Descriptive line

5 designs for frames; 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

Paterae (motifs); Vitruvian scrolls; Girandole; Husks; Leaf scrolls; Ram's head; Overmantel; Pier glass; Looking glass; Guilloche; S-scrolls; Urn


Designs; Furniture


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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