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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    May 1773 (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. 25' A design for a rectangular pier glass with urn finial. Acanthus scrolls follow the line of the mirror. Husk festoons are supported by acanthus scrolls around the sides. The frame features neoclassical moulding.

'No. 26' A design for a rectangular frame. The frame is horizontally aligned. The top of the frame is curved with two serpentine lines meeting in the centre of the frame. An anthemion sits on the crest. Husk festoons and acanthus scrolls decorate the edges.

'No. 27' A design for a narrow rectangular looking glass, divided internally into four sections by a vertical foliage pattern and horizontal ribbon. The frame features ribbon-and-stick. The crest is topped by husk festoons, two large acanthus scrolls and an urn finial with scroll handles.

'No. 28' A design for an oval shaped mirror. The frame is vertically aligned. The frame features ribbon-and-stick. Neoclassical moulding in the middle of the glass, divides the mirror into two sections. The outer section has paterae over it. Husk festoons curve around the frame. The crest features acanthus scrolls and an urn finial with squared handles.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


May 1773 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Ink, pencil and yellow watercolour

Marks and inscriptions

'No. 25' 'Mr Rivmeton 1 Frame for his own glass 42-22 in Repd white'
'42-22' gives the dimensions of the mirrored glass.

'No. 26' 'Mr Turner in Gough Square for Hampsted / Indian picture in B. gold frame May 10th 1773'
'Indian picture 4 ft 4'
'3 ft 2'
'4 ft 4' gives the height of the frame. '3 ft 2' gives the width.

'No. 27' 'Mr Hunt 2 angular glasses green & white'

'24' by '10 1/2'
The size of the bottom two glass panels on no. 27.

'40' by '10 1/2'
The size of the top two glass panels on no. 27. The total width is 24 inches.

'No. 28' 'Mr Hunt old Jury 1 silver & green May 5th- 73'
The latter inscription provides the dimensions of the mirrored glass.


Height: 54.5 cm mount, Width: 74.6 cm mount, Height: 31 cm design, Width: 54 cm design

Descriptive line

Four 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

Looking glass; Pier glass; Ribbon-and-stick; Leaf scrolls; Anthemion; Foliage; Serpentine; Husks; Urn; Paterae; Frame


Designs; Furniture


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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