These grand triumphal-arched and sconce-fitted mirrors are almost certainly those commissioned by Thomas Foley (d.1737) for the Drawing Room window-piers at Stoke Edith, Herefordshire. They would appear to be the two pier-glasses supplied in 1727 by the St. Paul's Churchyard cabinet-maker and upholsterer John Ody, and mentioned in his letter of 11th May that year to his patron in which he provided a sketch and discussed alternative ways of framing and finishing the glasses. Frustratringly the Foley papers at the Herefordshire Records Office are inaccessible, but Ody is recorded as supplying two pier glasses as well as two chimneyglasses for Stoke Edith. After gaining his Freedom of the Joiners' Co. in 1723, Ody established a partnership with William Old (c. 1723-38), and noted 'all sort of the best Looking-Glasses' amongst the items recorded on their trade-sheet (G. Beard and C. Gilbert (eds), Dictionary of English Furniture Makers: 1660 - 1840, Leeds, 1986, p.662).
These mirrors reflect the George I French antique fashion that derived in part from the engraved Oeuvres of the Paris-trained architect Daniel Marot (d.1752). Their mirrored borders, wreathed by 'Pan' reed-gadroons, have their architectural 'tablet' corners serpentined in 'Roman' truss-scrolls; while their temple pediments are antique-fretted with the nature-deity Venus' triumphal shell badges issuing from wave-scrolled and acanthus-wreathed ribbons.
This same pattern, with a varied shell-crowned cresting, was adopted in 1720 for Drawing Room mirrors, with glass sconce brackets, supplied to Erdigg, Denbighshire, by the Strand cabinet-maker John Pardoe (d.1748), whose contemporary trade-sheet advertised the manufacture of 'all sorts of Looking Glasses...' (Martin Drury, 'Early Eighteenth-Century Furniture at Erdigg', Apollo, July 1978, pp.46 - 55. fig.4).
A further closely related suite of mirrors was supplied to Sir John Chester by James Odell for Chicheley Hall, Buckinghamshire. It is interesting to compare the relative costs - Odell charging £18 for '2 sconces in burnished gilt frames' in 1722, with further bills for mirrors, tables and glass in August of that same year and in January 1724 amounting to £132 and £24 12s respectively.
Begun in 1698 by Paul Foley, Speaker of the House of Commons and decorated by Sir James Thornhill around 1704-5, the loss of Stoke Edith to a fire in 1927 was lamented by Christopher Hussey as amongst the greatest architectural tragedies of the 20th Century. Mercifully no lives were lost and the remarkable contents survived. Stoke Edith is perhaps best known now through the celebrated Stoke Edith 'pleasure garden' wall-hangings acquired in 1996 by the Victoria & Albert Museum, (M. Snodin and J. Styles, Design and the Decorative Arts, London, 2001, p.61).
Born in Shanghai to a Scandinavian ship-owning family that had settled in the Far East in the 19th century, Ralph Moller moved to England following the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in 1941. Like his brother Eric, Ralph Moller formed his superb collection of furniture at White Lodge, near Newmarket, under the almost mythical guidance of R.W. Symonds. Both of the Moller brothers' collections formed the basis of Symonds' Furniture Making in 17th and 18th Century England and constituted an invaluable document in the history of collecting. He is therefore to be seen alongside the other pioneering figures of English furniture collecting who were advised by Symonds, such as Percival Griffiths, J.S. Sykes, Jim Joel and Samuel Messer.