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Irish 18th Century Wall Mirror

Irish 18th Century Wall Mirror


circa 1730 - 1740

Large Georgian period Irish carved giltwood and gesso mirror.

The cartouche centred in the middle of the broken swan neck pediment is decorated with rosettes and various mouldings including ‘egg and dart’ and acanthus leaf decoration. The carved bust is surmounted on a scrolled and embossed plinth with trailing flowers above a carved stiff leaf border with re-entrant corners. The later replaced mercury mirror plate is clear of foxing and large blemishes and is off period. The sides are decorated with scrolled leaf work and flank an array of trailing flowers, oak leaves, wheat sheaves, acorns and hops. The inverted shell that centralises the apron is shaped with carved ‘C’ scrolls and rising acanthus leaf decoration.

The mirror is influenced by the 18th century architect William Kent who favoured the Palladian style.

William Kent (c. 1685-1748) was an eminent English architect, landscape architect, painter and furniture designer of the early 18th century. He began his career as a painter and became Principal Painter in Ordinary or Court Painter, but his real talent was for design in various media.

Kent introduced the Palladian style of architecture into England with the villa at Chiswick House and also at Burlington House.

He also originated the 'natural' style of gardening known as the English landscape garden at Chiswick, Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, and Rousham House in Oxfordshire. As a landscape gardener he revolutionised the layout of estates, but had limited knowledge of horticulture.

He complemented his houses and gardens with stately furniture for major buildings including Hampton Court Palace, Chiswick House, Devonshire House and Rousham.

Kent was born in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, and baptised as William Cant.

His career began as a sign and coach painter, and he was encouraged to study art, design and architecture by his employer. A group of Yorkshire gentlemen sent Kent for a period of study in Rome. In 1713 he was awarded the second medal in the second class for painting in the annual competition run by the Accademia di San Luca for his painting of A Miracle of S. Andrea Avellino.

He also met several important figures including Thomas Coke, later 1st Earl of Leicester, with whom he toured Northern Italy in the summer of 1714 (a tour that led Kent to an appreciation of the architectural style of Andrea Palladio's palaces in Vicenza), and Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni in Rome, for whom he apparently painted some pictures, though no records survive.

During his stay in Rome, he painted the ceiling of the church of San Giuliano dei Fiamminghi (Church of St. Julian of the Flemings) with the Apotheosis of St. Julian.

Kent left Rome for the last time in the autumn of 1719.

His most significant meeting in Rome was with Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington.
Burlington gave Kent the task of editing The Designs of Inigo Jones with some additional designs in the Palladian/Jonesian taste by Burlington and Kent, which appeared in 1727. As he rose through the royal architectural establishment, the Board of Works, Kent applied this style to several public buildings in London, for which Burlington's patronage secured him the commissions: the Royal Mews at Charing Cross (1731–33, demolished in 1830), the Treasury buildings in Whitehall (1733–37), and the Horse Guards building in Whitehall (designed shortly before his death and built 1750–1759).

As a landscape designer, Kent was one of the originators of the English landscape garden, a style of ‘natural gardening’ that revolutionised the laying out of gardens and estates. His projects included Chiswick House, Stowe, Buckinghamshire, designs for Alexander Pope's villa garden at Twickenham, for Queen Caroline at Richmond, and notably at Rousham House, Oxfordshire, where he created a sequence of Arcadian set-pieces punctuated with temples, cascades, grottoes, Palladian bridges and exedra, opening the field for the larger scale achievements of Capability Brown in the following generation.

Smaller Kent works can be found at Shotover Park, Oxfordshire, including a faux Gothic eyecatcher and a domed pavilion. His all-but-lost gardens at Claremont, Surrey, have recently been restored. It is said that he was not above planting dead trees to create the mood he required.

Kent's only downfall was said to be his lack of horticultural knowledge and technical skill. Nevertheless, his naturalistic style of design was his major contribution to the history of landscape design.

His stately furniture designs complemented his interiors: he designed furnishings for Hampton Court Palace (1732), Lord Burlington's Chiswick House (1729), London, Thomas Coke's Holkham Hall, Norfolk, Robert Walpole's pile at Houghton, for Devonshire House in London, and at Rousham. The royal barge he designed for Frederick, Prince of Wales can be seen at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

In his own age, Kent's fame and popularity were so great that he was employed to give designs for all things, even for ladies' birthday dresses, of which he could know nothing and which he decorated with the five classical orders of architecture. These and other absurdities drew upon him the satire of William Hogarth who, in October 1725, produced a Burlesque on Kent's Altarpiece at St. Clement Danes.

According to Horace Walpole, Kent "was a painter, an architect, and the father of modern gardening. In the first character he was below mediocrity; in the second, he was a restorer of the science; in the last, an original, and the inventor of an art that realizes painting and improves nature. Mahomet imagined an Elysium, Kent created many."


Height 144.00cm (56.69 inches)

Width 74.00cm (29.13 inches)

Depth 4.00cm (1.57 inches)

Stock No: 11434


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