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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 and yellow watercolour

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case W, shelf 1

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. 59' Half a design for an oval pier glass. The frame is vertically aligned. The frame features neoclassical moulding. Husk festoons hang down the sides, and meet at the apron over a patera. The crest is topped by a torch shaped urn.

'No. 60' A design for a girandole with an urn finial. Half of the design is highly finished, the other half is roughly drawn. Two candle sockets sit on curling stems (pencil). Acanthus scrolls follow the line of the mirror, supporting husk festoons. The frame features dentils. Separate is a detail for the section with the candle sockets.

'No. 61' A design for a rectangular mirror. Half of the design is highly finished, the other half is barely sketched. The frame is vertically aligned and features neoclassical moulding, husk festoons and acanthus scrolls. The apron features c-scrolls. The crest is topped by a vase which sits on acanthus scrolls.

'No. 62' A design for an almost circular looking glass with laurel and ribbon decoration. Acanthus scrolls and husk festoons surround the sides forming a tear-drop shape. The apron features a patera and the crest is topped by a bow.

'No. 63' A design for an oval pier glass with an urn finial which has c-scroll handles. Half of the design is highly finished, the other half is barely sketched. The frame is vertically aligned and features neoclassical moulding. The apron features a palmette and a sheath of wheat. Husk festoons are supported by acanthus scrolls around the sides.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


mid 1770s (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Ink, pencil and yellow watercolour

Marks and inscriptions

'No. 59' 'George Purvis Esqre 1 in B. gold 17-24 moulding 1 3/8 wide sqre outside'

'No. 60' 'Mrs Green 2 in B. gold moulding 1 5/8 wide'
'1 ft 9 1/2'
'4 1 1/2'
'15 1/2'

'No. 61' 'Mrs Green for her own glass B. gold moulding 1 5/8 wide'
'21 1/2'
'6 ft. 2'

'No. 62' 'Mrs Green B. gold her own frame ornamented June 24th 1773'
'4 ft 10' by '2 ft 11 1/2'

'No. 63' 'Mrs Green 2-38-27 B. gold moulding 2 In wide [bare]'


Height: 54.5 cm mount, Width: 74.6 cm mount, Height: 31.7 cm, Width: 54 cm

Descriptive line

Four designs for looking glasses, one design 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

Looking glass; Palmette; Fluting; C-scroll; Husks; Pier glass; Wheat; Urn; Leaf scrolls; Girandole; Patera; Dentils; Bow (carved)


Designs; Furniture


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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