This fantastical pair of scroll-framed pier-glasses, designed in the George II 'picturesque' fashion with flowers and foliage and featuring exotic Chinese terms with foliate caps, is derived from a drawing by the specialist carver and pattern-book author Matthias Lock (d.1765). The drawing, part of the collection gifted by George Lock to the Victoria and Albert Museum, features in P. Ward-Jackson's English Furniture Designs of the Eighteenth Century (London, 1958, pl. 66). Another related pattern with figural terms was published in his Six Sconces, 1744, pl. 4 (M. Snodin ed, Rococo; Art and design in Hogarth's England, London, 1984, pl. XIII and L4). Plate 5 in Six Sconces (reproduced here) further illustrates the overall similarities in form and ornament of the present pair to Lock's designs. Similar terms appear in his New Book of Ornaments for Looking Glass Frames, 1752 (pl. 3).
'THE FAMOUS MATTHIAS LOCK, THE MOST EXCELLENT CARVER'
In 1744, Matthias Lock (d. 1765) was described as 'the famous Matthias Lock, the most excellent carver', and reputed to be 'the best Ornament draughts-man in Europe'. In what appeared to be a rather fluid and shifting relationship among workshops at the time, he was employed by James Whittle (d. 1759), 'Carver' to Frederick , Prince of Wales (d. 1752), a relationship begun in the 1740s at the time that he was producing his pattern books, and that lasted until at least 1755. As noted by Thomas Johnson in his autobiography, The Life of the Author (1744), Lock ran his own workshop as well that was occupied by 'upwards of thirty men' (J. Simon, Furniture History, 2003, pp. 1-64). But what is most intriguing is the term-embellished mirror sold Christie's, London, 10 April 2003, lot 4 (£83,650) for which a signature 'James Hill' was later discovered behind one of the carved elements (A. Bowett, Furniture History Society Newsletter, no. 153, February 2004, fig 1). This signature suggests a direct connection with Lock as 'Hill' was the name of one of the carvers who worked with him at Hinton House, Somerset, a commission that included the 'Large Sconce' designed for Earl Poulett's tapestry drawing room and now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (J. Hayward, 'Furniture designed and carved by Matthias Lock at Hinton House, Somerset, Connoisseur, CXLVI, December 1980, pp. 284-286; and M. Snodin Rococo, 1984, L12). A pair of mirrors at Ramsbury Manor, Wiltshire, is unmistakably of the same pattern as the signed example and it has been suggested that the latter, too, may have also come from Ramsbury. The Ramsbury pair is illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, 1924, vol. II, p. 331, fig. 61 and was sold by the Trustees of the late Sir Francis Burdett, 8th Bt., Christie's, London, 22 October 1953, lot 111. A further pair of the same genre was supplied to Uppark, Sussex (Uppark: National Trust Guide Book, 1985, p. 18). All of these mirrors had divided plates, suggesting they also may have reused earlier mirror plates as with the present examples.
Another similar example was sold 'A Townhouse in Mayfair', Christie's, London, 20 November 2008, lot 550 (£169,250). And a further pair, of smaller size, was sold from the collection of the celebrated pianist Van Cliburn, Christie's, New York, 17 May 2012, lot 114 ($464,500)
Mrs. Lynn Wolfson, whose late husband Louis II Wolfson ran an important cable and television company Wometco, was a passionate supporter of the arts in Miami, particularly ballet, with the Lynn Wolfson Stage at the Ziff Ballet Opera House being named after her. Collecting is in the family's blood: her brother-in-law Mitchell Wolfson is a celebrated collector who founded the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach and Nervi, Italy.