The design for this mirror-bordered pier glass, executed for the 5th Duke of Bolton (d.1765), evolved from those designed by John Vardy (d.1765) for the Drawing Room at Hackwood. The paired palm-wrapped pilasters rise from acathus-wrapped cartouches and form an ogival pediment, which may have originally been surmounted by the Bolton coronet. The frame's design demonstrates Vardy's awareness of the French 'picturesque' style of the 1730s. His designs for the pier furnishings of the Saloon, for instance, incorporate elements derived from Gabriel Huquier's Oeuvre de Juste Aurèle Meissonier, published in the late 1740s. His palm tree ornament on this mirror also relates to one of his frame patterns proposed in 1759 for the overmantels of Lord Leicester's Saloon at Holkham Hall, Norfolk (J. Cornforth, 'Vardy and Holkham', Country Life, 25 August 1988, p. 141). A palm tree tripartite mirror, designed by Timothy Lightoler (d.1769) featured in William Halfpenny's Modern Builder's Assistant, 1757, pl. LXVIII.
THE 'BOLTON' PIER GLASS
The glass's mirrored and triumphal-arched frame, celebrating the virtue and achievements of Charles Powlet, 5th Duke of Bolton (d. 1765), was designed for Hackwood, Hampshire in the 'Modern' fashion promoted at George II's architectural Board of Works under the guidance of the Rome-trained artist architect William Kent (d. 1748) and his assistant and successor, the architect John Vardy (d. 1765).
Vardy popularised Kent's Romano British style in Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent, 1744, but the style of this frame relates to the publication's 'architectural' frontispiece. This fused Roman ornament with 'picturesque' naturalism that appears to derive in part from the Italian artist Gaetano Brunetti's, Sixty Different Sorts of Ornaments, 1736.
Designed for the Duke's apartment, the poetic palm-wreathed and laurel-festooned frame may have been intended to display his coronet cushioned on its ogival-scrolled temple pediment by a fountain-like capital of foliage; while 'Apollo' lyres suspend in its paired rustic pilasters that issue from the base angles' trussed, reeded and wave-scrolled cartouches of Roman acanthus. Vardy incorporated similar palm pilasters in a frame designed in 1759 for Holkham Hall, Norfolk; and also in his later design for a pier-glass frame incorporating the 'Bolton' laurelled falcon-ring badge, but inspired in part by one of Brunetti's patterns (J. Cornforth, 'Vardy and Holkham', Country Life, 25 August 1988, p. 141; and P. Ward-Jackson, English Furniture Designs, London, 1958, fig. 43) .
Vardy also introduced a triumphal palm screen in his Jonesian and French-fashioned bedroom apartment invented in the 1750s for John, 1st Earl Spencer's St. James's mansion (J. Friedman, Spencer House, London, 1993, p. 114). At the same period, Britain's gain of sea dominion in 1759 was to encourage the incorporation of triumphal medal-decked palms in the state coach design that was instigated in the following year for George III. While his son was Rear Admiral of the Blue, The Duke served as George II's Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, and later carried a cushioned crown at the 1761 coronation of George III.
The execution of the mirror can be attributed to the Park Street carver Thomas Vardy (d.1788), brother of the architect.