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  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1720 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pine, with original oil gilding

  • Museum number:

    W.44:1 to 4-1927

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case WN []

Object Type
The combination of mirror, bracket clock, thermometer and barometer is apparently unique. The date of the mirror is based on the approximate dating of the barometer to about 1720.

Ownership & Use
Inventories show that barometers were usually hung in the hall, providing a useful guide to the weather prior to leaving the house. The mirror was in the collection of the Mildmay family and according to family tradition hung in their London house in Stoke Newington.

The unusual shape of this mirror recurs with certain mirror plates on desk and bookcases of the mid-1740s. These were probably inspired by earlier forms, like this example, and are often thought to be the work of the cabinet-maker Giles Grendey (1693-1780). The style of the decorative carving is close to the work of Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), though it does not have Gibbons' naturalistic fluency.

Materials & Making
The survival of the original oil gilded finish is remarkable. The gold has been applied to the carved surface over a paint ground. In the border between the inner and outer mouldings, sand has been mixed with the paint to provide a granular surface which forms a contrast with the smooth gold on the carved surfaces.

Physical description

Mirror with barometer and thermometer. The frame of carved and gilded and pine in the form of a symmetrical ogee curves, is ornamented with egg and tongue and leaf enrichments. The barometer, thermometer and bracket for supporting a clock are all carved in the same manner. The eagle is surrounded by garlands of flowers. The spaces are filled in with mirror plates their functions being covered by slips of carved ornament. At the base are scrolls of acanthus ornament to match the cresting.

Place of Origin

London (probably, made)


ca. 1720 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Pine, with original oil gilding


Height: 227.33 cm, Width: 117.16 cm

Object history note

The mirror was formerly in the posssesion of Mr. G. St. John Mildmay at Queen's Camel which, when Humphrey Mildmay died without issue, passed to his great-niece Jane, who married Sir Henry Paulet St. John Bart in 1786, who afterwards took the name of Mildmay. The mirror is said to have been removed to Queen's Camel from Mildmay House, Stoke Newington, a house acquired by Sir Henry Mildmay, one of the judges at the trial of Charles I.

Later it was lot 113 in the Mulliner sale at Christies, 10th July 1924, when it realised 280 guineas.

Descriptive line

Mirror, with barometer and clock shelf, English, 1730-1735

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

Subject of V&A/RCA student essay by John Cross, 1989/'90.
H.H.Mulliner, Decorative Arts in England 1660-1780, fig.60.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This mirror is unusual in that it supports a bracket for a clock, and was fitted with a thermometer and barometer. It may have been designed for a hall, the usual place for barometers. The frame, carved with the Palladian motifs of shell and acanthus leaves, still shows its original oil gilding, a finish that gave a more matt effect than water gilding. [27/03/2003]


Pine; Mirror glass; Gilt


Oil gilding


Furniture; Science; Mirrors


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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