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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 54

Mirror

1735-1740 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This mirror with its symmetrical decoration is typical of the Baroque style that flourished in late 17th-century Italy. Its inner moulding of regular egg and leaf pattern indicate that the mirror was designed by an architect. The double shell cresting suggests the involvement of William Kent.

People
William Kent designed a barge for Frederick, Prince of Wales (George II's eldest son, who died in 1751). The cresting of this mirror is similar to the stern of the Prince's barge. Both feature the Three Feathers, the badge of the Prince of Wales. John Boson carried out the carving on the barge and may also have made this mirror. He executed Kent's designs at Chiswick House, London, for Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, and at Kew Palace, Surrey, for the Prince of Wales. A bill survives to show that in 1733-1734 Boson provided the Prince of Wales with another mirror: 'A Rich Tabernacle' mirror for the drawing room at Kew. It cost £8 and the bill describes it as having a frieze of carved flowers, festoons at the sides, a shell on the pediment and foliage at the base.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved and gilded pine, with later additions to the base, and mirror glass
Brief Description
Mirror, carved and gilded pinewood, English, 1735-1740
Physical Description
Oval mirror in a frame of carved and gilt pine. At the top of the frame there is a bearded head surmounted by three ostrich feathers encircled by a coronet (the badge of the Prince of Wales) with conventional shells behind. The rest of the frame is enriched with acanthus foliage, rococo ornament and festoons.
Dimensions
  • Height: 179.07cm
  • Width: 74.29cm
  • Depth: 20.32cm
50 kg - estimate by object handlers Dimensions checked: Registered Description; 19/01/1999 by KN
Content description
This mirror shows the lingering predominance of the Baroque style with its symmetrical decoration, still using many of the late 17th century carvers' motifs. Baroque style decoration was preferred by promoters of the Palladian style, although the Rococo style was already flourishing in Europe, its asymmetry was alien to Palladian principles. However, the influence of the rococo can be seen in the light treatment of the shell cresting, the ragged C scrolls and the floriations of the apron. This could support the suggestion that the mirror has been altered at some point.
Gallery Label
  • Perhaps made for Frederick, Prince of Wales and probably designed by William Kent as it closely relates to the design for the stern of the Prince of Wales' barge (see John Vardy, Some Designs of Mr Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent, London, 1744.) It may have been made by Benjamin Goodison, who is known to have supplied furniture for the Royal Household at this period.(1976)
  • British Galleries: The carving of this mirror is very similar to the carving on the stern of the barge designed by William Kent for Frederick, Prince of Wales. That carving was carried out by John Boson who worked frequently for the Prince of Wales and may have made this mirror.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Sir Edward Stern
Object history
Given to the V&A in 1911.



Exhibited in exhibition, Give and Take, at the Serpentine Gallery between 29th January and 1st April 2001.
Production
The attribution to William Kent is based partly upon similarities between the mirror and Kent's design for the stern of the Prince of Wales' barge, which is illustrated in John Vardy's Some Designs of Mr Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent, 1744, pl.52. The barge is now on display at the National Maritime Museum. The frame might have been carved by John Boson or Benjamin Goodison. The similar carving on the barge was carried out by Boson, who is known to have supplied another mirror to Frederick, Prince of Wales [Accounts of Frederick, Prince of Wales, Office of the Duchy of Cornwall, Vol. IV, p.238]. However, the carving style is also similar to pieces by Goodison.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This mirror with its symmetrical decoration is typical of the Baroque style that flourished in late 17th-century Italy. Its inner moulding of regular egg and leaf pattern indicate that the mirror was designed by an architect. The double shell cresting suggests the involvement of William Kent.

People
William Kent designed a barge for Frederick, Prince of Wales (George II's eldest son, who died in 1751). The cresting of this mirror is similar to the stern of the Prince's barge. Both feature the Three Feathers, the badge of the Prince of Wales. John Boson carried out the carving on the barge and may also have made this mirror. He executed Kent's designs at Chiswick House, London, for Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, and at Kew Palace, Surrey, for the Prince of Wales. A bill survives to show that in 1733-1734 Boson provided the Prince of Wales with another mirror: 'A Rich Tabernacle' mirror for the drawing room at Kew. It cost £8 and the bill describes it as having a frieze of carved flowers, festoons at the sides, a shell on the pediment and foliage at the base.
Bibliographic References
  • Wilk, Christopher ed. Western Furniture 1350 to the present day in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. London: Philip Wilson Publishers in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996, p.88. ISBN: 1856674435
  • Victoria and Albert Museum: Fifty Masterpieces of Woodwork (London, 1955), No. 32.
Collection
Accession Number
W.86-1911

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record createdJuly 7, 1998
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