Pair of Chippendale ‘Director' Style Chinoiserie Mirrors

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About

An exceptional pair of finely carved Chippendale Director style chinoiserie pier glasses.

Each mirror is divided into two main sections by 'C'-scrolls, 'S'-scrolls and rockwork. The upper sections are further divided by a temple folly and foliate tendrils and flanked by twelve further mirrored panels. The frame is richly carved with fleshy acanthus, 'C' and 's'-scrolls and perching Ho-Ho Birds on rocaille, water-work bases, the whole surmounted by a Rustic Chinese figure within a fanciful pagoda.

Pier glasses were large decorative mirrors designed to be placed on the wall or 'pier' between windows. Not only did they have a decorative purpose, but provided an important functional use, creating a reversal of dynamic with the windows at night, reflecting and maximizing the light given off by candles or oil lamps.

The design for this pair of mirrors or 'Pier Glasses' is derived from plate 143 in the first edition of Thomas Chippendale's 'Director.' It was published on 23rd March 1754 as 'The Gentleman & Cabinet Maker's Director' and immediately became an important reference work not only for Cabinet makers, but as a style guide for the fashion consciousness who embraced the new style of the Rococo and the exoticism of the ‘chinoiserie.’ A good example of a contemporary pier glass based on this design from the 'Director', and thought stylistically to be attributed to the hand of Thomas Chippendale, survives at Crichel in Dorset.

In London throughout the 1740s, there was a revival of the enthusiasm for chinoiserie, which had been prevalent in the late 17th century. The fanciful evocations of this style combined well with the lightness and whimsical playfulness of the Rocco and rapidly became the height of fashion, popularized and disseminated through cabinetmakers, 'Books of Prices,' and 'Directories,' such as that by Thomas Chippendale. The fact that Chippendale's name is now used to cover this period in Furniture History is a testimony to the success of the 'Director' as both a practical manual and an important guide to ‘genteel’ taste.

The middle of the 19th century was to see a revival of the Rococo style in England and many designers and furniture makers turned once again to Chippendale’s ‘Director’ for inspiration. The whimsical nature of the exotic chinoiserie styles became particularly popular and many fine examples based on specific plates in the ‘Director’, such as this pair of pier glasses were created.

Literature:
Chippendale, Thomas (1966), The Gentleman & Cabinet Maker's Director, A Reprint of the Third Edition, Dover Publications, New York; pl. 143.
Coleridge, Anthony (1973), Chippendale Furniture, The Collectors Book Club, Cirencester.
Edwards, Ralph & Joudain, Margaret (1955), Georgian Cabinet Makers, a new & revised edition, Country Life.
Details
Place of Origin
England
Date of Manufacture
Circa 1860
Period
19th Century
Materials and Techniques
Giltwood
Condition
Good
Dimensions
7 ft. 10.5 in. H x 6 ft. 0.8 in. W x 4.72 in. D
240 cm H x 185 cm W x 12 cm D
Dealer Location
London, United Kingdom
Number of Items
2
Reference Number
LU102801286122
Address
Adrian Alan
66-67 South Audley Street
London W1K 2QX
GB
+44 1163261640
Associations
  • The British Antique Dealers' Association
  • Trade Association for Professional Art and Antiques Dealers
1stdibs Dealer since 2014 Located in London, GB
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