THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN THE CARNARVON GLASS
A GEORGE II GILTWOOD AND PAINTED MIRROR, the painting attributed to Andien de Clermont, the cartouche-shaped plate in sixteen sections and painted with winged putti climbing amidst a trellis of floral garlands, the frame boldly-carved overall with pierced rockwork, scrolls and palm fronds entwined with floral trails, the cresting centred by a foliate spray flanked by inverted scrolls hung with rockwork lambrequin and floral swags, the sides with dragon finials and mounted with birds, the conforming apron with shell centre and basket-of-flower angles, the painted mirror plates early 1730's, the frame early-1750's, the whole mounted on a part green-painted pine backboard, re-gilt and traces of oil gilding, minor restorations to the painted surfaces, one plate replaced and redecorated, one plate cracked, the front of the backboard inscribed in chalk Wantage and Want, with printed paper label giving assembly details of ROCHELLE THOMAS THE GEORGIAN GALLERIES 10,11,12 KING STREET, ST.JAMES'S, LONDON, SW, with two further paper assembly labels, one referring to the CAERNARVON GLASS, the backboard itself inscribed in ink BROUGHT TO AUSTRALIA IN 1909 BY LADY HEDLEY (SIC) FOR WHICH SHE PAID 1000 GNS and with the signatures of Neville Marsh, Robert Nairne, Stanley Lipscombe all dated 1960, further inscribed in ink Removed from 124 Wolsely Road Point Piper 29/9/77 and ink-stamped Christopher Davis 390 Glenmore Road Paddington N.S.W. 2031 111 x 79in. (282 x 201cm.)

Details
A GEORGE II GILTWOOD AND PAINTED MIRROR, the painting attributed to Andien de Clermont, the cartouche-shaped plate in sixteen sections and painted with winged putti climbing amidst a trellis of floral garlands, the frame boldly-carved overall with pierced rockwork, scrolls and palm fronds entwined with floral trails, the cresting centred by a foliate spray flanked by inverted scrolls hung with rockwork lambrequin and floral swags, the sides with dragon finials and mounted with birds, the conforming apron with shell centre and basket-of-flower angles, the painted mirror plates early 1730's, the frame early-1750's, the whole mounted on a part green-painted pine backboard, re-gilt and traces of oil gilding, minor restorations to the painted surfaces, one plate replaced and redecorated, one plate cracked, the front of the backboard inscribed in chalk Wantage and Want, with printed paper label giving assembly details of ROCHELLE THOMAS THE GEORGIAN GALLERIES 10,11,12 KING STREET, ST.JAMES'S, LONDON, SW, with two further paper assembly labels, one referring to the CAERNARVON GLASS, the backboard itself inscribed in ink BROUGHT TO AUSTRALIA IN 1909 BY LADY HEDLEY (SIC) FOR WHICH SHE PAID 1000 GNS and with the signatures of Neville Marsh, Robert Nairne, Stanley Lipscombe all dated 1960, further inscribed in ink Removed from 124 Wolsely Road Point Piper 29/9/77 and ink-stamped Christopher Davis 390 Glenmore Road Paddington N.S.W. 2031
111 x 79in. (282 x 201cm.)
Provenance
Probably Lord Chesterfield (d.1773), Chesterfield House, South Audley Street
Thence by descent to the 7th Earl of Chesterfield (d.1870)
His sister, Evelyn (d.1875), wife of 4th Earl of Carnarvon
Probably sold by the Egyptologist 5th Earl of Carnarvon (d.1923), 1900-1909
Purchased in London in 1909 by Mrs Barbara Baynton (1857-1929), probably from Joseph Rochelle Thomas of 10-12 King Street, St.James's, and shipped by her to Australia
Probably sold by Mrs Baynton, by then Lady Headley, in a house sale at her house in Toorak circa 1925

Lot Essay

This fabulous decorative glass is one of the most impressive examples of a type introduced into England in the 1690's and which appears to have continued developing during the first decades of the 18th Century. The attribution of the painting to Andien de Clermont (fl.1716/17-1783) rests on stylistic similarity to works firmly attributed to him and also on architectural features of the mirror as a whole which suggest a date at the height of Clermont's career.
In 1678 the French artist Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (1634-1699), a specialist flower-painter, was encouraged by Ralph Montagu, later 1st Duke of Montagu (d.1721), whose post as Master of the Royal Wardrobe involved responsibility for the embellishment of the Royal residences, to come to England and provide decorative flower-paintings for King William III's palaces. These flower-pieces served as overdoors and overmantels in schemes carried out under the direction of Daniel Marot (d.1752), the King's architect. Marot and Monnoyer together created a closet for Queen Mary (d.1694) at Kensington Palace. It was called the 'Queen's Looking glass Closet' and may possibly have included mirror-paintings of this type. Although no part of this room survives it is likely to have been similar in concept to an overmantel painted by Jacob Bogdany (fl. from circa 1690-1719/20) for Moor Park, Hertforshire, in 1701 and which is now at Dalkeith House, Lothian (see: J.Cornforth, 'Dalkeith House, Lothian', Country Life, 26 April 1984, p.1161, fig.8) . Bogdany worked with Monnoyer at Kensington Palace as a very young man and such is the similarity of style that the surviving Bogdany glass picture must be close to any painted by Monnoyer.The Moor Park picture is a tightly massed composition in which the flowers are of primary importance and emerge from a Marot-esque vase and bracket support.
Andien de Clermont trained as a pupil of Monnoyer and his son, Antoine Monnoyer (1670-1747), who was known for his close imitation of his father's style. Clermont may even have been brought to England by Antoine Monnoyer and it is likely that he absorbed much of the elder's style. The key stylistic link with known work by Clermont is provided by a mirror-painting, evidently by the same hand as the present lot, which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is slightly smaller than the present mirror and incorporates a painted mask in its lower part that is very similar indeed to those that appear in several places in a painting scheme executed by Clermont in the early 1750's at Wentworth Castle, South Yorkshire. Clermont used printed sources for the Wentworth paintings and the overall composition is adapted from wall-hangings in the style of Beauvais tapestry. It is of course very much of the early 1750's but the stylistic similarities in the execution of the flowers and putti to the present lot are remarkable. (see: J.Cornforth, 'Of Gods, Grapes and Monkeys', Country Life, 11 March 1993, pp.58-61). Another smaller mirror-painting from the group is at Cotehele in Cornwall
The dating of this mirror-painting to the early 1730's is further supported by the shape of the plates. The overall shape beneath the frame is serpentineand this is highly unlikely to date from earlier than the 1720's. The late 17th Century mirror-paintings would invariably have been inserted into rectangular openings in panelling. and would therefore themselves have been rectangular. Although the present mirror would also have been intended for a position over a chimneypiece it would have been framed separately from any panelling. Its original frame must have been serpentine, probably of a similar type to a giltwood mirror formerly in the Mulliner collection and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (no.W.44-1927, see: D.Fitzgerald, Georgian Furniture, London, 1969, no.15).
The frame itself is designed in the Louis XV picturesque style. The tasselled baldequin pediment, festooned with flowers and inhabited by dragons, as well as the acanthus-scrolled brackets enriched with watery embossments and scallop-shell cartouches feature in plate 3 of Six Sconce patterns issued in 1744 by the carver Matthias Lock (d.1765). Lock was recognised by his contemporaries as the finest designer in the 'French' manner and his work was the precursor of many of the designs subsequently reproduced by Thomas Chippendale in his Gentleman and Cabinet-maker's Director, 1754. The designer of this frame was undoubtedly conscious of Lock's designs.
There are two individual facts that individually suggest that this mirror was framed for Lord Chesterfield for his newly built and highly fashionable London house. The first is the assembly label on the reverse of the mirror that refers to the Caernarvon (sic) glass. Although the Earldom of Carnarvon was created in 1793 the most likely source for such a magnificent object is their inheritance, in 1870, of the Chesterfield estates and heirlooms. The 7th Earl of Chesterfield had died childless in 1870 and his heiress was his sister, wife of the 4th Earl of Carnarvon. Her son was the Egyptologist 5th Earl who sold many of the Chesterfield heirlooms in a series of sales in Christie's in 1918-1919. It is conceivable that the painted mirror itself was bought by Lord Chesterfield from the Duke of Chandos's house, Canons at Edgware, and that he had it reframed in a fashionable rococo style. Canons was demolished in the late 1740's, having only been built in the 1720's, and Lord Chesterfield is known to have purchased the staircase railings. On the evidence of this assembly label alone it would seem likely that Chesterfield House is the source of this mirror and this is supported by a description of a mirror of exactly this type in a particular room there. The reference is quoted in E.Beresford Chancellor, The Private Palaces of London Past and Present, London, 1908, p.212, and it is clear from the text that the description is earlier than 1908:
'Thus, one room had a large mirror made up of small pieces of glass, the joins being hidden by painted cupids, flowers and arabesques...'
The only difficulty with this description is the reference to arabesques which do not appear on this mirror, unless the word is being used in a very general way.
Lady Headley was a very successful Australian novelist who wrote under the name of Janet Ainsleigh. She married, as her second husband, in 1890, Thomas Baynton, a prosperous retired surgeon who collected Georgian furniture and silver. She was very much bitten with collecting and after her husband's death in 1904 and her own increasing literary success, she spent much time in England sending back vast quantities of antiques to Australia. The inscription suggesting that she bought the mirror in 1909, and shipped it in that year, seems entirely plausible, given what is know of her movements. Presumably she purchased the mirror from Joseph Rochelle Thomas, subsequently President of the British Antique Dealer's Association, whose label it bears. His shop was adjacent to Christie's in King Street, St.James's, but the mirror-painting was not sold in these Rooms in either 1908 or 1909 so it must have been obtained at an earlier date or from another source. Lady Headley married in 1921, the 5th Lord Headley but left him soon afterwards when he refused the crown of Albania. Annoyed by his lack of energy she returned to Australia where she continued buying antiques and had several spectacular sales in the mid-1920's during one of which this mirror-painting was presumably sold.
Although none of the individual elements that point to a provenance are enough to confirm that this mirror-painting was originally at Chesterfield House, the combination of the three makes it seem very plausible. The assembly label on the reverse refers to the Caernarvon (sic) glass and almost the only possible source of such a magnificent object in that collection would be Lord Chesterfield. The description of a similar object at Chesterfield House has its difficulties but this mirror still seems the most likely candidate from the group particularly given the style and date of its framing. The third and most tenuous element is Chesterfield House itself. Without the label or description it would still be a prime candidate for the source; it contained the most magnificent suite of rococo rooms in the country. In combination these factors seem to make a very strong case indeed for Chesterfield House
;

More from English Furniture

View All
View All