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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 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. 21' A design for a rectangular frame. The frame is horizontally aligned. The design is relatively simple. The frame features neoclassical moulding with acanthus scrolls and husk festoons draped along the top and sides. The crest features a palmette and the apron, two c-scrolls.

'No. 22' A design for a simple circular looking glass.

'No. 23' A design for a rectangular pier glass with a curved top. The frame is vertically aligned. On the looking glass are festoons and ribbons with sheaths and grapes hanging down. The apron features scrolls. The frame features neoclassical moulding. Marks are drawn for the walls, suggesting that this frame is designed for a particular space.

'No. 24' A half drawn design for an oval pier glass. The frame is vertically aligned. The frame features neoclassical moulding, acanthus scrolls and fluting. Husk festoons fall from an urn finial.

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. 21' 'Mr Richardson near Croydon 1 in burnished gold May 2d 1773'

'No. 22' 'Mr Yound (18 in) in Repd wt 1 1/8 wide'

'No. 23' 'Mrs Prouse in B. gold May 6th 1773'

'No. 24' 'The Revd Mr Ward at [Yaulding] 1 in Repd white 29-21 May 3d 1773'
'2ft 1/2'


Height: 54.5 cm mount, Width: 74.6 cm mount, Height: 30.8 cm, Width: 51 cm

Descriptive line

4 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



Subjects depicted

Looking glass; Pier glass; Palmette; Leaf scrolls; C-scrolls; Urn; Overmantel; Husks; Festoon; Grape


Designs; Furniture


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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