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CIRCA 1710
With a divided bevelled plate, the upper plate shaped and with rounded corners, within a mirrored border divided by gilt-lead and giltwood fillets with a foliate and zig-zag design, slight losses to decoration
100 x 40 in. (254 x 104 cm.)
The collection of Ava Gardner (d.1990)
An English Look, Robert Kime, Piers von Westenholz, David Bedale and James Graham-Stewart, Christie's, London, 8 July 2009, lot 99.

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Carys Bingham
Carys Bingham

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Lot Essay

This pier glass, though of typical form, is remarkable for its size. In the later part of the 17th century, glass works had been established at Vauxhall and by 1675 the Worshipful Company of Glass-Sellers and Looking-glass Makers numbered 85 members. The diarist John Evelyn recorded a visit to Vauxhall in September 1676, writing that he had seen 'looking-glasses far larger and better than any that come from Venice'. The competition between glass-houses was intense and rivals vied for business by boasting of the size of mirror plates they could produce. On 13 February 1700 the Vauxhall Glass-Works advertised 'large looking glass Plates, the like never made in England before...of six foot in length, and proportionable breadth', while two years later the Bear Garden Glass-House at Southwick claimed 'Looking Glass Plates, Blown from the smallest size upwards to 90 inches...'. (G. Child, World Mirrors, London, 1990, pp. 17 - 23). The high cost of mirror glass and its inherent fragility meant that looking glasses were among the most expensive and valuable items of furniture on the market, and large plates that have survived to the present day are scarce.

Ava Gardner (d.1990), the American actress, moved to Spain in 1955 after marriages to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra as well as a relationship with Howard Hughes. Gardner, who was an enthusiastic collector of antiques, spent her last twenty-two years in London. Many fans still consider her the most beautiful actress in Hollywood history.

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