This superbly-carved mahogany pier glass can be attributed to the Irish carver, John Houghton (d. 1761). The detailing relates to his most important documented work, the trophy-decorated carved oak frame he made for Francis Bindon's portrait of Dean Swift for the Deanery of St. Patrick's, Dublin, where it still hangs. The trophy-decorated mahogany frame for Bindon's portrait of Bishop Boulter, 1741-1742, can also be attributed to Houghton on the basis of its similarity to the Swift frame. It is now in the Provost's House, Trinity College Dublin.
The design of the present pier glass is much influenced by French craftsmen and echoes the designs of Daniel Marot with its lambrequins, foliage, birds, shells, and helmets. The criss-cross diaper pattern background is typical of Irish furniture decoration and appears on a closely related pair of mahogany and parcel-gilt mirrors, attributed to John Houghton, that belonged to the Penrose family of Woodhill, Co. Cork. The Penrose mirrors were sold by Jeremy Cotton, Esq., Tythrop Park, Oxfordshire, Christie's, London, 27 April 1997, lot 35.
Our knowledge of John Houghton has recently been expanded by the exciting rediscovery of the autobiography of the English carver and designer, Thomas Johnson, well known for his pattern books of high rococo ornament published between 1755 and 1762. Johnson, described Houghton as 'much the best carver, in his line, in Dublin' and also called him 'the best wood-carver, for basso relievo figures, I ever saw before or since'. Johnson spent several months in Houghton's workshop in 1746 (see J. Simon, 'Thomas Johnson's The Life of the Author', Furniture History, 2003, pp. 1-64).