THE EVOLUTION OF THE DESIGN
Their open pediments recall Inigo Jones's Roman patterned chimneypiece invented for Wilton House and illustrated in Vardy's pattern-book entitled, Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent, 1744, pl. 13. The Bernini-fashioned tritons can be related to the nereids or water-nymphs on a candlestick pattern invented for George II by William Kent (d.1748), and to the latter's nereid-drawn barge invented for Frederick, Prince of Wales, both of which were illustrated in Vardy's Some Designs (pls. 18 and 53). Elements such as eagle-born laurels and amorini-inhabited palms had been incorporated in 'Inigo Jones' architecture in Charles I's Greenwich Palace apartment (featured in ibid., pls. 5 and 4).
Vardy himself had introduced a foliage-framed shell in his 1749 design for George II's state bed, now at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (see G. Beard, Upholsterers and Interior Furnishing in England 1530-1840, London, 1997, figs. 216-218). The present pier-glass evolved in particular from the late 1750s pier-glass that he designed for an apartment at Spencer House, with an alcoved niche recreating the Jonesian Greenwich Palace design.
'Bolton' rings, suspended from the mirror cornices are guarded by confronted eagles, sacred to Jupiter, and here recalling the Bolton family's ancient 'falcon' crest. Their feathers embrace the volute scrolls of the Roman-temple pediment, which is enriched with echinois egg-and-dart mouldings and supported by projecting Corinthian pilasters.
The rings are entwined with triumphally-arched palm branches and laurel festoons borne by zephyr-winged tritons. These chimerical serpent-tailed loves, attendants of the nature goddess Venus, were invented by poets to symbolise the elements of air and water. They have fountain-like perches of husk-festooned, pearled and imbricated patterae, and these serve as ribbon-guilloches with which they draw the scallop-shell chariot of the nature goddess Venus displayed in foliated and scallop-winged cartouches at the base of the mirror.
The mirrors have been water gilded twice. In some areas the second gilding, probably early 19th Century, is separated from the first by a thin skim of gesso. The original gilding and the second gilding is identical on both pairs of pier tables (lots 53 and 55) and their mirrors (lots 52 and 54).