These girandole mirrors were probably executed by either the Royal cabinet-makers James Moore Snr. (1670-1726) and John Gumley (fl. 1691-1727), or alternatively by their contemporary John Belchier (fl. 1699-1753). A related carved giltwood and gesso pier glass, circa 1725, has a near-identical foliate-wrapped swan-neck cresting terminating in tight spiral scrolls (illustrated The Connoisseur Magazine, October 1951, advertisement for Norman Adams Ltd.; the property of the late Minnie Wingate, sold Sotheby’s, London, 5 June 2007, lot 101). This comparable pier glass has a lappet ‘collar’, which closely relates to the lappet ‘crown’ of the girandole mirrors offered here. Other areas of commonality are the distinctive carved ‘ribbon-wrapped ears’ that flank the swan-neck scrolls on the cresting and the frilled ‘S’ scrolls on the mirror sides. Together with the flowering tendrils carved on the cresting – a motif usually associated to Moore Snr. – the present mirrors and the Norman Adams example are probably by the same workshop. The latter pier glass is described in the auction catalogue as being possibly by Belchier based on two pier glasses at Erddig; one of these has a similar Indian mask with headdress, and a bill dated 1723 from Belchier survives (NT 1146961). Some of the principal mirrors at Erddig were originally ascribed to Moore and Gumley, but later identified in the archives as by Belchier (M. Jourdain, ‘For the Connoisseur: Furniture at Erthig, Denbighshire’, Country Life, 22 March 1930, pp. 442-443). However, it seems just as likely that the present girandole mirrors may be by Moore and Gumley given their square form and the shallow and less dense carving, which is more akin to that found on Moore’s giltwood and gesso table-tops (T. Murdoch, ‘The king’s cabinet-maker: the giltwood furniture of James Moore the Elder’, The Burlington Magazine, June, 2003, pp. 408-420).
James Moore Snr. is recorded at Nottingham Court, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London. In partnership with John Gumley from 1714, the pair was appointed Royal cabinet-makers to George I and subsequently George II, supplying gilt pier glasses, tables, torchères etc. to the Royal Palaces. In this period, although Moore continued to work in his own right, he was learning the looking-glass trade from Gumley; how to create carved and gilded mirrors, moulding and working with japanning and gesso. As an individual craftsman, Moore was commissioned by Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough for the supply of items at Blenheim where he succeeded Vanbrugh as the Comptroller of Works.
Campsea Ashe High House was rebuilt in the 19th Century by Anthony Salvin for the Hon William Lowther, younger brother of the 3rd Earl of Lonsdale. The house was designed to retain many of the original Georgian features. Lowther's son, James William, was speaker of the House of Commons from 1905 until 1921 at which point he became Viscount Ullswater. Upon his retirement he relocated to the house in Suffolk, which he had seldom used previously and with his wife undertook to maintain the intriguing gardens. Viscount Ullswater died in 1949 at which point a sale of the contents was undertaken by his estate and High House was passed into a trust where it remained until it was demolished in 1953.