This spectacular pair of mirrors was sold by Lady Bannerman at Christie's in 1946 and was likely to have descended from Holme Hall in Yorkshire, the seat of the Barons Langdale. Holme Hall passed to the daughter of the 5th and last Baron when he died in 1778. A set of early Georgian chairs from Holme Hall which descended through the same family line was sold - together with the original 18th century invoice from cabinet-maker John Whitby - at Christie's, London, 25 June 1981, lot 50. Aside from Whitby's bill, records are scarce, but there are hints that the 5th Baron Langdale was fitting up Holme Hall in the 1760s. The architect John Carr was commissioned to build the chapel in 1766, and a single invoice from the royal cabinet-maker John Cobb shows he was there in 1765 to repair chairs, thus showing Lord Langdale was using leading artisans (G. Beard, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, p. 183). The 5th Baron's daughter and heiress, Mary Langdale, married Charles Philip, 17th Lord Stourton (d. 1815) in 1775; three years later, they inherited Holme, as well as other Langdale properties including Houghton Hall in Yorkshire and Draycott, in Staffordshire. They may equally have commissioned the pair of mirrors. Holme Hall was sold by the family in the 1920s, which become a convent and later a retirement home. Any extant records for the house are presently at Hull University Archives, some of which were donated by Lady Bannerman in 1975, and have not been viewed to date.
The mirrors are executed in the Roman fashion promoted by the architect/designer Robert Adam who was working with all the leading cabinet-makers of the 1770s, including Chippendale, Mayhew and the Linnells.
Attributes of the design feature Thomas Chippendale's documented work. Certainly, Chippendale's working relationship with Adam is well-known and the classical vocabulary on these mirrors would have been repeated in the architectural elements of the room for which they were intended. The devise of sunflowers issuing husk chains from their centers as well as a central palmette appear on Chippendale's own 1767 drawing for a frame at Nostell Priory, while mirrors supplied as part of his great commission at Harewood House incorporate these same features (see C.Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. II, pp. 156, 173, figs. 185, 310). Interestingly, Mary and Philip Langdale purchased Stapleton Park, Wiltshire (to be renamed Stourton Place) from Edwin Lascelles of Harewood House in 1789, so they were likely to be familiar with, and possibly influenced by, Harewood's splendid interiors.
A suite of pier glasses probably designed by Thomas Chippendale Junior for the salon at Burton Constable, Yorkshire in 1778-1779 incorporates the distinctive feathered palmette (C. Gilbert, op. cit., pp. 164-165, pl. 295-298). An overmantel at the Victoria and Albert Museum, originally made for Sir Roger Twisden, 6th Baronet (d. 1779) for Bradbourne, Kent, also closely compares (M. Tomlin, Catalogue of Adam Period Furniture, 1982, p. 104, fig. N/3), as does the Croome Court tapestry room mirror of 1769 by Mayhew and Ince, and now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (G. Wills, English Looking Glasses, New Jersey, 1965, p. 123, fig. 151). Others similar have come up at auction: A single pier glass sold The Legend of Dick Turpin Part I, Christie's, 9 March 2006, lot 154 (£54,000); another sold from the Estate of Doris Merrill Magowan, Christie's, New York, 22 May 2002, lot 40 ($31,070).