The huge mirror-glasses are framed in the antique style promoted by Robert 'Bob the Roman' Adam (d. 1792) architect to George III, and embellished in a festive Homeric fashion celebrating love and virtue. Golden flower-festooned urns, accompanied by beribboned sacred veils, are displayed on statuary white tablets above rectilinear frames. These are wreathed by Venus' pearls and Apollo's laurels, and these frame a palm-flowered ribbon-guilloche derived from the neck-band of a Grecian Ionic temple illustrated in James Stuart's, Antiquities of Athens, London, 1762. This frame pattern derived from one, with an urn-capped figurative medallion that Adam had executed in the same year for a 'Glass Frame for the Anti room at Shelburne House [now Lansdowne House, London]' (E. Harris, The Furniture of Robert Adam, London, 1963, fig. 18).
The pier glasses were commissioned in 1768 for his Piccadilly mansion by George William, 6th Earl of Coventry (d. 1809) of Croome Court, Worcestershire, who served as 'Lord of the Bedchamber' to George III. He had purchased a mansion in this street of Palaces overlooking Green Park following his marriage in September 1764 to Barbara, daughter of the 10th Lord St.John of Bletsoe. His mirror-frames were designed to harmonise with the ceiling of the 'Great Room or Dining Room', for which Adam had provided a pattern three years earlier that incorpo stuccoed medallions of classical heads and urns together with inset paintings in the style of the painted ornament of the Ancients' . (Soane Museum, Adam MSS, vol. 20, no. 63). Adam's frame design is further enriched with Roman acanthus together with a cresting of a tazza filling the space between an accompanying table. The mirrors were supplied to accompany scagliola-slabbed sideboard-tables, for which Adam had provided a design in 1767. These tables, executed by the Soho carver Sefferin Alken (d. 1782) were invoiced in November 1768, while their Roman Mosaic tops were executed by Messrs. Bartoli and Richter, (sold from the Collection of Sir Charles Clore (+), in these Rooms, 20 November 1986, lot 94). Sefferin Alken of Dufours Court, Broad Street, Soho, invoiced these mirror frames on 18 July 1769, as:
'To 2 glass frames alike over the Tables. In the Clear 9ft by 4'6". A gutheroon moulding to outside. Girt 1¼ carvd Arches a band round Do. And a water leaf, an Astragal to inside Girt 1 inch with Rakeing leaves a faciea between with scroles at bottom a honey-suckle & floroon between. An Ornament at top carv'd. A Pot in Middle lying on a ground. A honey suckle at top and bold foliage comeing from behind the Pot, & Women lying on the foliage, at bottom an Ornament a basket of fruit, and bold foliage comeing from Do. Etc... £184.108.40.206'
The removal of the trophy ornament, apart from the vases, and the insertion of the bacchic veil-draped tablets no doubt reflects the refined taste of the architect James Wyatt (d. 1813), at the time that he was carrying out work for the Earl in the mid-1790s. In particular, their present urn-capped tablets correspond to the architecture of the 'Punchbowl Gates' executed in the manner of Robert Wyatt in 1794 at Croom Court (see A. Kelly, 'Coade Stone at Croome', Apollo, April 1997, p. 21. fig. 1). The furniture from Coventry House was sent to Croome Court after the 9th Earl assigned the lease in 1848.