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Design for a pier-glass from; A Miscellaneous Collection of Original Designs, made, and for the most part executed, during an extensive Practice of many years in the first line of his Profession, by John Linnell, Upholsterer Carver & Cabinet Maker. Selected from his Portfolios at his Decease, by C. H. Tatham Architect. AD 1800.

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1755-1760 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Linnell, John, born 1729 - died 1796 (designers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pencil, pen and ink and wash

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case W, shelf 8, box C9

This design for a pier-glass by John Linnell displays rococo stylistic features combined with chinoiserie. The rococo became fashionable in the first half of the 18th century and, as demonstrated within this design, was characterised by asymmetry, naturalistic ornamentation and flamboyant curvaceous detail. Chinoiserie (the style inspired by the art and design from China, Japan and other Asian countries) was a popular style which many 18th century artists and designers adapted within furniture and interior design. This is displayed through the pagoda-inspired shape which Linnell has used to terminate the pier-glass at the top. By combining the rococo style and chinoiserie, designers such as Linnell were able to create light-hearted, fanciful effects.

Pier-glasses were a popular form of 18th century furnishing and were commonly placed on the wall in between two windows (known as the pier wall). Extremely elaborate pier-glasses, such as the ones designed by John Linnell, were often used to emphasise the grandeur of a wealthy household. They were also important sources of light during the 18th century and they would reflect the light from candles back into the room. Pier-glasses such as this could have been used within important state rooms of the interior such as drawing rooms, however they could also have been used within more private rooms such as a breakfast room for example.

Physical description

A design for a pier-glass in pencil, pen and ink and wash. The pier-glass is formed from a curved, scrollwork frame. The top of the frame is in the shape of a pagoda roof with an acanthus leaf on top. Lambrequin (draped fabric) motifs also feature as part of this decorative design. Floral festoons are positioned over the mirror glass and frame. Underneath the pier-glass a dado rail has been drawn. One of a set of designs for furniture, including chairs and state beds, interior decoration, including pier glasses, and architectural fittings including chimney pieces and doors. In a volume.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca.1755-1760 (made)


Linnell, John, born 1729 - died 1796 (designers)

Materials and Techniques

pencil, pen and ink and wash


Height: 22 cm, Width: 9.3 cm approx.

Descriptive line

Design for a pier-glass in pencil, pen and ink from a volume of designs for furniture, interior decoration and architectural fittings, by John Linnell, Great Britain, ca.1755-1760

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1929, London: Board of Education, 1930.
Hayward, H. and Kirkham, P. William and John Linnell Eighteenth Century London Furniture Makers, London; Studio Vista, Christie’s (1980)


Pencil; Ink; Wash; Paper (fiber product)



Subjects depicted

Subject; Floral; Acanthus; Lambrequin


Designs; Drawings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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