Massive Mirrors on the Wall

February 5 2010, 1:12pm

The design on which these remarkable mirrors are based was officially registered by the cabinet maker George Sims of 50-152 Aldersgate Street, London, in March 1878 and survives in the National Archives at Kew. Standing at just over 7 feet tall, the mirrors follow the design very closely, although they are given a stricter architectural quality by the decision to leave out the ornamental crest and swag on the drawing.

Although clearly closely inspired by Robert Adam’s work, Sims has lent these pieces an inventive edge by subtly departing from the conventions of Adam’s oeuvre. For instance, the hemispherical fans are curiously but successfully inverted and placed at the base of the mirror. Other motifs within the array of finely detailed neoclassical decoration are on close scrutiny more stylised and angular versions of their eighteenth-century counterparts.

Furthermore, Sims’ handling of the geometry and proportions of the mirror is exemplary and is redolent of the more radical designers of the early years of the nineteenth century, all the more remarkable given the date of conception of the present pieces. The exceptional quality and scale of the mirrors suggests that they were clearly a special commission of the highest order. The diamond mark [patent registration label] on the present pair of mirrors, pictured to the right, gives the date 25 March, 1878 Top. You can find a detailed explanation of these diamond marks here: The Registered Diamond Mark.

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