FRANCIS AND JOHN BOOKER, DUBLIN
This grand Palladian pier glass was almost certainly made by the celebrated and prolific Dublin firm of 'Looking Glass Merchants', 'glass-grinders' and 'glass sellers' established by the brothers Francis and John Booker. The extent of their wares is revealed in their beautiful trade card which incorporates a delicate rococo border interspersed with illustrations and a long detailed list including dressing glasses, lustres, chandeliers and lanterns. The two brothers are listed in premises in Essex Bridge, Dublin, the same address at which their father is recorded from 1715.
Francis Booker married well and rose to become Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1772 though he died later in the same year leaving the business to be carried on by his brother. John, also a carver and gilder, continued the shop in Essex Bridge until 1786 when he moved to Jervis Street. Three years later he too died.
The architectural composition of this mirror is very close in form to designs by William Jones in 'The Gentleman's or Builders Companion containing a variety of useful designs for doors, gateways, peers, pavilions, temples, chimney-pieces, slab tables, pier glasses, or tabernacle frames, ceiling pieces, etc.', 1739 (see The Knight of Glin & J. Peill, Irish Furniture , New Haven and London, 2007, fig. 193). Jones's book was available in Dublin in the same year and was sold for 12s. by Robert Owen in Skinners Row; and one can easily imagine a well worn copy owned by the Bookers at 6 Essex Bridge.
The mirror offered here most probably dates from after the death of Francis Booker, and it bears close comparison with a labelled mirror, which features similar rococo decoration to the tablet (ibid., p.144, fig.194).
Related mirrors include one from the 'Collection of The Knight of Glin, Glin Castle', sold Christie's, London, 7 May 2009, lot 51 (£61,650 including premium), another sold anonymously Christie's, London, 9 June 2011, lot 281 (£49,250 including premium), and another sold anonymously Christie's, London, 14 November 2013, lot 5 (£68,500 including premium).
DAWSON’S GROVE AND DARTREY
Thomas Dawson was the second son of Richard Dawson, M.P. (d. 1766) and Elizabeth Vesey, daughter of John Vesey, archbishop of Tuam. Thomas was himself M.P for Co. Monaghan from 1749 – 66, he was first created Baron Dartrey in 1770, Viscount Cremorne in 1785 and then Baron Cremorne in 1797. Thomas was known as one of the largest landowners in Ireland with an annual income from his estates of £8,000 in 1799, and the Reverend J. Burrows, diarist and visiting tutor to the Dawson family, described him as 'judicious and benevolent towards his neighbours, his dependents, his servants and to the poor’. When Thomas died without heir in London in 1813, his sons having predeceased him, the title Baron Cremorne passed to his grand-nephew Richard Thomas-Dawson.
The house at Dawson’s Grove, built around 1770 in brick, consisted of three storeys over a basement, with a pedimented breakfront and was probably inspired by the designs of Edward Lovett Pearce for the nearby Bellamont Forest (1730). In 1778, Dawson Grove was mentioned by the Rev. Daniel Beaufort as: 'a new brick building, neat and well contrived but rather heavy both in its external appearances and inside decorations' (Mark Bence-Jones, A Guide to Irish Country Houses, 1989, p. 100). It would almost certainly have been during this period, when Dawson was enobled and built his new house, that the present mirror was supplied.
Burrows described the estate as 'A thousand acres of lake, three hundred of which flows within a few yards of the house, with hills on each side covered with the most beautiful delicious woods, bring all fairyland to one’s imagination’. In the 19th century Richard Dawson built a great Gothic-style mansion, employing the Scottish architect William Burn between 1844 – 46. The house was demolished in 1950, leaving just gate lodges and cottages, Burns’ neo-stable block, a triumphal arch and the Pantheonic mausoleum designed and built in 1772 - 74 by Thomas for his first wife Anne Fermor (d.1769) by James Wyatt and with monuments carved by Joseph Wilton.