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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:

    late 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pencil, pen and wash

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case W, shelf 8, box C8

This design for a pier-glass demonstrates Linnell’s combination of Chinoiserie-inspired imagery (such as the Chinese lambrequin-inspired domed detail which surmounts the pier-glass) with naturalistic rococo forms. The rococo style became popular during the first half of the 18th century, characterised by asymmetrical detail and curvaceous decorative features. Often, designers such as Linnell would combine oriental motifs with the freedom of rococo detail to create fantastical imagery within their designs. Chinoiserie (the style inspired by art and design from China, Japan and other Asian countries) was extremely popular throughout the 18th century and the upper class frequently adorned their homes with Chinoiserie-inspired objects and Asian imports. This design is elegantly composed and, despite the lack of colour, Linnell may have presented this to clients.

Pier-glasses were mirrors placed in between the windows of a given interior. 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.

Physical description

A design for a pier-glass, the shape of which is designed from curved foliage and naturalistic forms. The mirror glass is interrupted into sections by the decorative detail. At the top of the pier-glass is a chinoiserie-inspired dome shape created from a lattice pattern with foliage sprouting from the top. 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)


late 18th century (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

pencil, pen and wash


Height: 15 cm, Width: 8.5 cm

Descriptive line

Design for a pier-glass in pen, ink and wash from a volume of designs for furniture, interior decoration and architectural fittings, by John Linnell, Great Britain, late 18th century

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.


Pencil; Ink; Wash; Paper (fiber product)



Subjects depicted

Subject; Rocaille; Dome; Acanthus


Designs; Drawings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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