• The Ismail Merchant Collection auction at Christies

    Sale 5980

    The Ismail Merchant Collection

    7 October 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 149


    CIRCA 1700

    Price Realised  


    CIRCA 1700
    The arched frame surmounted by a pierced c-scrolled acanthus cresting, above a marginal border applied with pierced spandrels enclosing three bevelled plates, the reverse with a paper label inscribed 'DINING ROOM FACING FIRE PLACE', re-gilt in the early 19th century with traces of earlier gilt, the size apparently unaltered, the cuts to the quarter-sawn pine laminations on the reverse not extending through the ornament
    99 in. (252 cm.) high; 35½ in. (90 cm.) wide

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    The triumphal-arched pier-glass's mirrored frame is crowned by a richly fretted cresting, whose acanthus-wrapped ribbons scrolls reflects the Louis Quatorze 'Roman' fashion popularised by the engraved Oeuvres of the Paris-trained architect Daniel Marot (d.1752). The cresting's basic form relates to that of a mirror, with verre eglomisé borders, that was formerly part of the Grant collection of Lichborough Hall, Northamptonshire (sold Christie's, London, 1951, lot 114). The frame's centres and corners are decorated with flowered and fretted tablets, which relate to those of a glass-framed pier-glass bearing the coronet of the first Lord Coningsby of Hampton Court, Herefordshire (see R. Edwards and P. Macquoid, The Dictionary of English Furniture, rev. ed., 1954, vol. II, p. 357 fig.19). In particular the frame can be related to that of the Victoria & Albert Museum's pier-glass from Halnaby Hall, Yorkshire. The latter has been dated around 1710 and attributed to Thomas and René Pelletier, who formed part of a celebrated family of carvers and gilders that were employed by William III and Queen Anne (see T. Murdoch, 'Jean, Rene and Thomas Pelletier, a Huguenot family of carvers and gilders in England 1682-1726', pt. I, Burlington Magazine, November 1997, pp.732-742 and June 1798, pt. II, pp.363 -374, and fig.16)

    This mirror once formed part of the remarkable collection assembled by Eric Moller in the 1940s and 1950s under the guidance of the furniture historian R.W. Symonds.

    Eric Moller's years as a collector began in 1943, when he and his new wife moved to Thorncombe Park in Surrey. He restored the house and filled it with an outstanding collection of furniture and clocks, a large proportion of which was sold at Sotheby's London, 18 November 1993. His brother, Ralph, likewise sought the advice of Symonds when forming his collection at White Lodge near Newmarket. Symonds devoted the greater part of his life to the study of English furniture, establishing himself as perhaps the greatest living authority on the subject. The author of some 600 books and articles, with a personal archive of several thousand photographs, he was widely consulted by private collectors and museums. In addition to the Mollers, Symonds advised such celebrated collectors as Percival Griffiths, J.S. Sykes, Geoffrey Blackwell, Jim Joel, Samuel Messer and Lord Plender, also working in the United States, where he played a vital consultative role in the formation of the collection at Colonial Williamsburg

    With his background in architecture, Symonds was able to advise on the arrangement of furniture, as well as the selection of individual pieces, and took an almost curatorial approach to the collections he helped to form, carefully guiding their development and display. It is clear that he took particular pride in the Moller collection, for he used it as the basis for his 1955 classic Furniture-Making in 17th and 18th Century England.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Acquired through R.W. Symonds for The Eric Moller Collection, Thorncombe Park, Surrey.
    The Eric Moller Collection, Sotheby's, London, 18 November 1993, lot 46.
    Sotheby's, London, 7 July 1995, lot 21.


    Country Life, 12 June 1958, (cover illustration).