An introduction to Irish frames – Part 2: Baroque & Rococo to modern

This article follows ‘Irish frames – Part 1: from early borders to Palladianism’.

Looking-glasses: Baroque and Rococo

Looking-glasses had been made in a small way in the 1620s in England, but by the 1640s all high-quality glass was imported from Venice. Charles I’s court was well-provided with looking-glasses, but it was the Restoration under Charles II that saw the establishment of native large-scale glass manufacture, such that by 1700 looking-glasses were being exported [1]. As well as the looking-glasses themselves, the craftsmen who made them started travelling, too, looking for a way up in a profession which seems to have become crowded remarkably quickly – sometimes following in the train of patrons as they purchased or developed their Irish estates. There seem to be no surviving examples of looking-glasses in Ireland before the 1720s-30s – imported or of indigenous make – but from the 1740s there are native examples in all the contemporary styles available in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, from the Palladian frames noted above to Baroque and Rococo patterns, all being produced simultaneously.

John Houghton (attrib.; fl.1726-died 1761), Baroque pier glass, one of a pair, c.1740-50, mahogany; purchased for Woodhill, Co. Cork, private collection

Thus the Baroque leaves which frolic in the stuccowork of the Provost’s House crop up elsewhere – for example, in other examples of John Houghton’s work [2], revealing that an 18th century master craftsman had to be adept at producing high-quality examples of every style – contemporary, avant-garde or rather old-fashioned – currently in circulation. This pair of looking-glasses was carved in mahogany, but the curvaceous acanthus leaves are very near relatives of the stucco decoration in the saloon of the Provost’s House.

The spray of leaves at the crest of the frame, and those at the top corners, are particularly Baroque in their dramatic thrust and movement. At the sides, more of Houghton’s pendant cords descend – this time, ribbons rather than twisted ropes – and support clusters of flowers; strangely, however, they do not fall from the top of the frame, but spring (like monstrous stamens) from tulip heads halfway down, in what must be an adaptation from memory of the French rose à tiges.

Designs by or after Daniel Marot (1661-1752); clockwise: walnut chair, 1689-95, Sudbury Hall NT;  chair, 1680-1700, Chirk Castle NT; (after) beech & walnut chair, 1700-20, Blickling Hall NT; (after) painted leather wall-covering, 1710-50, Oxburgh Hall NT

The Knight of Glin connects the vocabulary of this and the following frame to the work of Daniel Marot [3], and it is possible to see elements of Houghton’s frames in (for example) chair backs to Marot’s designs. Elements such as fans (of lambrequins or leaves), acanthus with voluted ends, sprays of foliage, beading and pierced trelliswork, all show the influence of Marot’s designs, emanating both from his published work (Amsterdam, 1712), and from the furniture and interiors he produced during his years in England (1694-1702).

Marot, walnut chair, 1689-95, Sudbury Hall NT, detail; and Houghton (attrib.), Baroque pier glass, c.1740-50, detail

John Houghton (attrib.; fl.1726-died 1761), mahogany pier glass, c.1740, 113 x 66 cm., Christie’s, 24 November 2005, Lot 46; and detail

The pier glass above, which re-uses Houghton’s trophy arrangement of motifs slung down the lateral rails, this time on ribbons or plaited cords, combines them with Marot’s fanned lambrequins, trelliswork, and scrolling folded acanthus leaves. Here there are more military trophies, including plumed helmets, shields, arrows, a quiver, a sword, an anchor, an Irish harp, and a peeved-looking eagle crouched in the apron. Halfway up one side, there is even a banner reading ‘SPQR’, which either indicates that this was a very serious commission, perhaps for a naval grandee, or a Roman jeux-d’esprit.  It also indicates a great ability to seize upon styles and ornaments, and to remake and blend them with an imaginative flourish.

The notice for John Houghton’s posthumous sale in 1761 is quoted by the Knight of Glin and James Peill in Irish furniture; through this very brief summary of the high points of the sale a surprisingly vivid sketch of his workshop emerges:

‘…sundry articles in the carving way viz two large pier glass frames, two tables, A curious chimney glass frame in the Chinese manner, with sundry other kinds of frames… some mahogany veneers, several work benches and tools for carving in wood and stone, some useful books fit for Carvers, Joiners, Up-holders such as Chippendale’s and Ware’s Designs [4], Gibbs and Aheron on Architecture in 5 books [5]; Pine’s Horace with cuts [6], a London edition with sets of drawings and designs…’ [7]

Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director, 1754, Plate CXLIII, ‘Pier Glass Frame

The reference here to an overmantel glass ‘in the Chinese manner’ – the chinoiserie branch of the Rococo – demonstrates that, along with the Baroque and Palladian styles, Houghton was very much up-to-date with the other great style of the second third of the 18th century. He and his workshop have, in fact, been considered as amongst the carvers potentially responsible for the Rococo frames made for Russborough House in County Wicklow. Russborough was built for Joseph Leeson (later 1st Earl of Milltown), a vast Palladian mansion with an interior of Palladian/ Baroque/ Rococo extravagance.

The architect was Richard Castle (1690-1751), who had replaced Edward Lovett Pearce as the leading Palladian architect in Ireland after the latter’s early death in 1733.  Russborough took Castle more than ten years to complete, from 1741, so that he himself was dead before it was completely finished. The interior was decorated with elaborate stuccowork on the walls and ceilings by the Swiss Lafranchini brothers, Philip and Paul, who worked with Castle elsewhere [8].

Lafranchini brothers, integral framed stucco panel with Athena, 1757, 9, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin

For example, in the townhouse at 9, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin (built by Castle, and now a private club), stuccowork panels on the staircase by the Lafranchini brothers have their own faux frames in Baroque taste veering into Rococo, with extravagantly scrolled corners, festoons of flowers and minimal rocailles. They possess the distinctively international taste brought into Ireland by the Lafranchini, Paul having worked in Germany and England, Peter in England, and all of them having trained presumably in their native Ticino, which several other stuccodores hailed from [9].

The stuccowork at Russborough House was to a great extent integrated on the walls with the giltwood frames (made contemporaneously) of paintings and looking-glasses, so that – as with the Provost’s house, Trinity College, Dublin – the glasses and paintings were framed by successive layers of  wood, by decorative stuccoed panels, and finally by the overall interior.

A scalloped oval glass in a palm leaf garland frame, one of a pair, c.1750-55, for Russborough House, hung in the drawing-room in a wall cartouche with Baroque stucco frame, probably by the Lafranchini brothers

This is particularly and satisfyingly true of a pair of oval giltwood frames with shaped glasses; not because they repeat the stucco wall frames they inhabit, but because they create a tension with their different forms of structure and ornament, and yet are still given greater authority and presence by this setting. The looking-glasses are garlanded with an outer frame of palm leaves and florets, with a floral basket at the crest, whereas the stucco frames are smooth C-scrolls topped with two fluted Mannerist scrolls, the whole thing entwined with acanthus leaves and crested with a ho-ho bird. The only correspondence is between the scallop shells on both. But what a dramatic and stunning effect these two frames have in combination, and how much more unified and coherent the interior becomes through their relationship.

Thomas Johnson (1723-99), One hundred and fifty new designs, London, 1761, plate 9, & detail

The giltwood frames of these glasses look as though they have been based on a design by Thomas Johnson, which he would later render rather more Rococo and include in his One hundred and fifty new designs, published in 1761. The oval glass at the top left of plate 9 is very similar in general form to the shaped oval Russborough glass, with its outer palm leaf motif and small jaunty crest. Johnson may then be the source for this pair of frames – or perhaps it was the other way round, since in 1747 he went to Dublin and began to work for John Houghton, with whom he stayed for around eight months. He wrote of this period,

‘Mr Houghton was the most eminent carver in Dublin… [he] behaved to me extremely genteel. He was the best wood-carver, for basso-relievo figures, I ever saw before or since. I made great improvements from him, and his apprentices from me.’ [10]

Possibly, then, Houghton’s hand is indeed in the Russborough looking-glasses, and this oval form is his design; possibly it is by one of his apprentices whom Johnson ‘improved’, and who may have invented a form which Johnson plagiarized, or who took inspiration from Johnson before he left.

It is interesting  to note that (looking at the results) there does seem to be a particularly noticeable blossoming of design as regards both looking-glasses and picture frames during the 1750s in Ireland. There was an early consciousness in the 18th century that, for Ireland to compete with its pushy neighbour in the fields of the applied and decorative arts, it needed education in the skills of drawing and design. The proprietor of a private drawing school in Dublin, John Esdall, had advertized his lessons in 1736 by noting that,

‘Drawing is the mistress of all manuel [sic] Arts and Masonry, Carving, Stucco forming, Jewellery, Furniture, and Damask Weaving, etc…’ [11]

John Robinson (d.1781), Irish printed linen/cotton (made into bed curtain), second half 18th century,  78 x 29 ½ ins (198.1 x 74.9 cm.), Metropolitan Museum, New York

In 1746 the Dublin Society began to sponsor courses in drawing for a number of students, in an effort to support and improve the standards of design in the various manufactures which relied on a good command of ornament; for instance in china, woven and printed fabric, and wallpaper [12]. Ten years later these lessons developed into the School of Ornament under James Mannin, who ‘is usually regarded as having been French trained’ (he may also have been born in France). Increasing numbers of ‘boys’ (and a few girls) took advantage of these part-time lessons, which complemented the practical instruction that they would have got from their apprenticeships, etc [13]. Prizes were given – in 1758 around £11 of prize money went to children under 18 for ‘Inventions of Pattern Drawing on Ornamental Foliages, proper to the several Manufactures of this Kingdom’ [14]. In 1764 another newspaper announced that,

‘The Dublin Society having established schools for figure and ornamental drawing, all painters, carvers, chasers, goldsmiths, carpet weavers, linen and paper stainers, damask and diaper weavers, their journeymen and apprentices… may have free admission to view the drawing of said schools…’ [15]

Giltwood oval glass and stucco frame, c.1750-55, Russborough House; with Robinson’s printed linen/cotton; details

The reason for the Dublin Society’s attracting the attention of such a variety of craftsmen to the utility of these lessons in ornament drawing and design becomes clear in when details of the different crafts are compared. The leaves and florets on the gilded looking-glass above become, in the light of the printed textile, sprigs of primula flowers, and the ribbon-tied festoons and garlands of stucco blooms in the plaster surround reflect the mixture of flowers in the lozenge-shaped garlands, also tied with bows, on the linen.

Richard Cranfield (1731-98), President’s chair, designed by James Mannin (d.1779), 1767, Royal Dublin Society

Another aspect of the drawing lessons emerges in the fact that their teacher, James Mannin, designed a ceremonial chair in Baroque style for the president of the Dublin Society, and it was carved by Richard Cranfield (see Part 1 for his work in Palladian style in the Provost’s House, Trinity College, Dublin, and see below for his Rococo frames). Cranfield had studied drawing himself at the School, and its French inclination – in its structure (it bore some relationship to earlier schools for workers in the crown manufactories of France, and to a contemporary Royal school of drawing [16]), in its teacher, Mannin, and almost certainly in the prints it used for models – its French inclination may explain something of the touch of exoticism in 18th century Irish frames.

Unknown Dublin carver & gilder, Rococo overmantel glass, c.1750-55, for Russborough House, National Gallery of Ireland

Returning to Russborough House, there were other looking-glasses designed for it besides the oval Johnsonian kind, including a pair of pier glasses and two overmantel frames, all in the same flamboyant Rococo vocabulary. One of the latter is in the chinoiserie taste, and is designed to hang above the chimneypiece; the other, above, has a level base which is intended to sit on the mantel-shelf. This one has lateral rails composed of slender palms, with a band of rocaille across the top forming an inner frame; outside this first layer there are scrolling mouldings with broken and random elements, and more rocailles; outside again there are rather gnarled branches of oak leaves. Curling scrolls of rocailles sit amongst the mouldings, and form a large and splendid crest between two urns which trail floral festoons. The various elements are less integrated than they might be, especially at the sides of the frame.

After an unknown designer, design for a cartouche, François Vivarès (1708-80, printmaker), V & A

The broken mouldings, entablature-like urns, and C-scrolls lined with foliage and rocailles, appear in prints such as the 1750s cartouche in a landscape, etched by François Vivarès, in the V & A. This is a reminder that – as well as the French models which were almost certainly provided by the School of Drawing – individual carvers and framemakers might assemble collections of prints of ornament and designs for all sorts of furnishings, and would then pick and choose elements to be combined in a completely new design. See, for instance, the scrapbook of Gideon Saint (c. 1760): an album of drawings and engravings pasted into a book and roughly indexed by subject, compiled by a working carver in London.

Unknown Dublin carver & gilder, Rococo chinoiserie overmantel frame with original plate, c.1750-55, 236 x 194 cm., for Russborough House, National Gallery of Ireland

The second overmantel frame is more elegant, combining the lateral mouldings and melding the rocaille and watery motifs with the main structure more successfully. It includes a bewildering number of rocaille and chinoiserie motifs, indicating that whether or not the carver was Houghton, he must have had access to all the mid-century books of ornament available from London.

Unknown Dublin carver & gilder, Rococo pier glass, c.1750-55, one of a pair and detail from the pendant, from Russborough House, National Gallery of Ireland

The Hawarden Castle looking-glass, c.1750, 62 ¼ x 37 ¾ ins (158 x 96 cm.), in the style of Matthias Lock, Ronald Phillips

Matthias Lock (c.1710-c.65), the frontispiece to Lock’s Six sconces, 1744, etching, Metropolitan Museum, New York

Both the second overmantel and the pair of pier of glasses made for Russborough contain elements which are close to designs by Matthias Lock; for example, the frontispiece to his Six sconces (immediately above), and also as revealed in examples of English looking-glasses made after Lock (for instance, the Hawarden Castle glass, above). Both of these combine many of the motifs in the Russborough glasses, which have the added panache which invests Irish Rococo [17].

Henry Copland et al. (c.1706-53), A new book of ornaments, pre-1753, Metropolitan Museum, New York

Unknown Irish carver & gilder, looking-glass, c.1755, 69 ¾ x 45 ¼ ins (177 x 115 cm.), Ronald Philips

Most of the designs by the ornemanistes are themselves fantastical and elaborate, but where British carvers seem to take these in an idealized spirit of adventure, and to tone them down for realization in giltwood for their clients, Irish carvers seem rather to take them as a jumping-off point – to be reproduced in all their flamboyant excesses, and perhaps added to from other designs. Henry Copland might be slightly surprised to find that the eye-catching drawing of an asymmetrical tiered cartouche on his title page has been straightened out enough to accommodate a shaped rectangle of mirrored glass and to have a particularly large and healthy-looking ho-ho bird perched on the top.

Picture frames: Baroque and Rococo

Not all Irish frames are, of course, as wildly flamboyant as these looking-glasses: there are many examples of picture frames which are as moderate as any back in London – although they still tend to an idiosyncratic use of ornament which is unlike British patterns. Newbridge House, which appeared in Part 1 because of its collection of conventional Palladian or ‘Kent’ frames, also has Baroque, Rococo and ‘Maratta’ frames, amongst others.

Johannes Voorhout (1647-1723), Lady in an interior, 55 x 46 ins (140 x 117 cm.), Newbridge House frame, post-1764, Cobbe Collection; now at Hatchlands, Surrey

In an article on his family collection, Alec Cobbe notes that Thomas Cobbe and his wife, who married in 1755, set about filling Newbridge House with paintings, furniture, silver and porcelain; and that, over the next decade,

‘…there was a campaign of carved and gilt Dublin-made frames, some in livery types, and others individually conceived, though not as elaborately showy as some documented Irish frames of the period’ [18].

The frame above, made in one of the house patterns for Voorhout’s mistress and maidservant, appears to be a modest Louis XIV-Régence style of a very English kind: save that the ornament is very unEnglish. The corner leaves with their strange cusped bindings, the centres with backwards-facing maple-like leaves, the scrolling foliage and florets on the convex rail, all look remarkably unconventional. A carver and gilder, John Lenaghan of Kevin Street in Dublin, was paid £2. 4s for ‘framing the House Pictures’ in September 1762, with further payments of 18s 11d and £10 in 1763 and 1764 [19].

Arthur Pond (attrib.; 1701-58), Clotworthy, Lord Loughneagh, later the 2nd Earl of Massereene, 1750, pastel, 22 ½ x 17 ½ ins (57 x 44.8 cm.), and detail, Sotheby’s, 21 January 2020, Lot 18

The same is true – even more true, perhaps – of the frames in the collection of the Earls of Leitrim, recently sold at Sotheby’s. In the case of the portrait above, the wide sanded frieze between runs of beading and gadrooning, allied to a cove decorated with scrolling foliage, more of Marot’s trellis ornament (let into strange little panels in the centres of the frames), and pierced acanthus and shell corners, gives the appearance of a British Régence-style frame attempting an armed take-over of a Palladian frame. It is attractive and shows off the painting admirably, but it has a faintly exotic air; and this is partly why Irish frames are so interesting. Carvers and gilders (indigenous and immigrant) have taken up the fashionable templates of the time, exported to Dublin from London in a variety of ways, and they have remade them imaginatively, excitingly and sometimes dramatically, to suit their location and clients.

In the case of this portrait, attributed to the Londoner Arthur Pond,

‘…almost all his portraits are recorded as being sent out framed, as was commonly the case with pastels which were difficult to transport unless protected by a frame’ [20].

Equally, he seems not have visited Ireland, so – if this portrait is indeed his – it had a perilous journey to find its framemaker.

Stephen Slaughter (1697-1765), William Graham of Platten Hall, Co. Meath, s & d Dublin, 1746, 35 7/8 x 28 1/8 ins (91 x 71.5 cm.), Sotheby’s, 21 Jan 2020, Lot 53

This portrait by the artist Stephen Slaughter (who lived in Dublin for some years) has a frame which is more stylistically at peace with itself, but which also incorporates motifs which are very unlikely to be found on a British frame. As well as the shaped trellised panels at the demi-centres, these include the tiny carved heads at the corners, which are set against conventional shells to give the effect of a tête espagnolette  in the style of Daniel Marot.  There is an almost identical frame (but without the heads) on one of the full-length portraits in The Mansion House, Dublin; and the Rococo door plates there have similarly trellised inserts.

The cartouche at the crest, formed of opposing C-scrolls in a sunburst, has a great similarity to cartouches used for religious works, but is strangely empty – either of Sacred Hearts or armorial bearings.

George Barret (1728/32-84), A wooded river landscape and its pendant, 23 ¾ x 49 ½ ins (60.3 x 125.6 cm.), Christie’s, 7 December 2010, Lot 43

The Earl of Milltown ordered from his unknown carver (or carvers) not only looking-glasses but picture frames to decorate Russborough House. Some of these are restrained in the extreme when compared with the looking-glasses; for example, two overdoors by George Barret which the earl commissioned for the Saloon, and which retain their very simple straight-edged frames with pierced foliate and shell corners, and low relief floral sprays.

The drawing-room, Russborough House

Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-89), two from the set, Four times of the day, 107 x 123 cm., the drawing-room, Russborough House

Similarly, those on the set of four marines by Vernet in the drawing-room are very modest oval panel mouldings, centred with decorous little rocailles and foliate scrolls which blend into small floral sprigs. Like the two oval looking-glasses in the same room, the paintings are framed again by Lafranchini stucco borders – the real frames for these works, which give them all they need in the way of sculptural oomph and projection, and to which the wooden frames become merely the gilded sight edge.

Guercino (after; 1591-1666), The triumph of David, the drawing-room, Russborough House

But the drawing-room also currently has as its focal point a copy made for the earl of Guercino’s Triumph of David, after an original studio version from 1636 commissioned by Cardinal Colonna and now at Burghley. This copy has a frame in the most flamboyant Rococo taste, of a type usually employed in Britain as the foundation of a trophy frame, or more usually for a looking-glass, but which has various idiosyncrasies of its own. For example, although carved rocailles froth over the surface of the painted canvas at intervals, the actual sight edge of the frame is an unbroken linear gadrooned moulding. It forms the inner contour of a slender rectangular carcass, above which elements of the outer Rococo frame float freely, giving the whole piece a layered construction which – together with the rocailles – hints at incrustations of shells and other sea-life. These rocailles are attached to the same kind of broken entablatures and C-scrolls as in the overmantel and pier glass frames, and are clasped by leafy whorls and flourishes reminiscent of French or Swiss Rococo carvings. There might be a Huguenot hand at work here – a migrant direct from Paris, perhaps, or a carver come from London, seeking further opportunity in the wake of the great wave of building in Ireland in the 18th century. The British and Irish Furniture Makers Online is disappointing in this respect, including fewer details and salient dates even of the craftsmen dealt with in the works used for this article [21]. Presumably it will be fleshed out over time.

Pompeo Batoni (1708-87), Joseph Leeson, later 1st Earl of Milltown, 1744, o/c, 135.5 x 98.5 cm., National Gallery of Ireland

The earl may have used several different carvers and gilders, since the ‘Dictionary of 18th century Irish furniture-makers’ shows that Dublin was, by the mid-18th century, becoming a city of craftsmen in wood and gold leaf of all imaginable kinds, capable of creating the architectural interior of a room and filling it with every luxury [22]. He had made two tours of Italy, from 1744-45, and then again, with his son and nephew, from 1750-52 [23]; during these trips much of the Russborough collections were formed, and out of them in 1901 two hundred paintings were given to the National Gallery of Ireland, along with furniture and silverware. Most of those paintings retain the original frames commissioned by the earl and dating from the early 1750s and the second half of the 1740s; they were also recorded when the house was photographed in the 1860s [24].

Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), The Holy Family with saints Anne, Elizabeth and John the Baptist, 1649, o/c, 79 x 106 cm., and detail, ex-Russborough, National Gallery of Ireland

One of them, Poussin’s Holy Family with saints, is exceptional in that it still has the French Louis XV frame in which the Earl presumably acquired it; it has deep-relief undercut ornament and the surface is alive with recutting in the gesso – the whole frieze being covered with finely engraved hatching, edged with recut fringing. This will have presumably acted to some extent as a model for the Irish frames which were to join the Poussin in a hang within the house – or at least as a general template.

Nicolas de Poilly (1675-1741), The finding of Joseph’s cup in Benjamin’s sack, 1698, o/c, 98 x 130 cm., ex-Russborough, National Gallery of Ireland

Nicolas de Poilly (left) and Nicolas Poussin (right); comparative details of frames

Comparison of the 18th century Irish frame on The finding of Joseph’s cup… with the 18th century French frame on the Poussin Holy Family shows a great many similarities being aimed for, both in technique and in much of the ornament, although without the degree of virtuosity in the Irish frame which was achieved in the French frame.  The online entry for the former painting notes (under ‘Label text’) that ‘The fine Irish frame was added in the 18th century, when this picture was attributed to the classicist Nicolas Poussin’. However, it has also been cut down at some point, so must originally have been commissioned by the earl for a larger painting in his collection.

Sir Godfrey Kneller (studio of; 1646-1723), Lt-General James Barry, 4th Earl of Barrymore (1667-1748), 123.2 x102 cm., flamboyant Rococo frame, 1740s, Sotheby’s, 24 September 2013, Lot 95

Philip Hussey (attrib.; 1713-83), Lady Anne Chichester, Countess of Barrymore (m.1716, d.1753), 122.7 x 101.6 cm., flamboyant Rococo frame, 1740s, Sotheby’s, 24 September 2013, Lot 96

If the Russborough Rococo frame of The triumph of David has a Huguenot air, then the contour of these two portrait frames for members of the Barry family, with their slenderness and exaggerated corners, might seem to incline towards the style of German or Scandinavian Rococo frames. They are spectacularly decorative – the hollowed frieze is pierced with quatrefoils, above which trailing sprays of roses and rose leaves spring from the foliate clasps of the centres and corners towards small, asymmetric demi-centres. The centres have elaborately-pierced, slightly leafy rocailles, while the corners motifs are formed of both rocailles and leaves; and all of them – centres and corners – are as large as the faces of the portraits. Whether the 4th Earl of Barrymore would ever have contemplated his likeness being enshrined in such a flighty frame (given that his portrait was probably painted in 1699, when he succeeded to the title, or for one of his first two marriages, pre-1703 or 1706) is doubtful; but his wig has such an echo of its silhouette that it almost seems intended. Both frames were presumably made when the earl’s third wife was painted, to bind her portrait to her husband’s; and both probably hung in Castlelyons Castle, north-east of Cork, before being moved to Fota House, much nearer the city, in the 1820s.

Kneller, Lt-General James Barry, 4th Earl of Barrymore, detail of frame

Irish furniture… includes an appendix of 24 pages containing ‘A dictionary of 18th century Irish furniture-makers’, by John Rogers.  This is based mainly on craftsmen working in Dublin; there are a few entries for Belfast and Cork, and even fewer scattered in other centres, such an Antrim and Limerick. The majority of the entries for Cork (comprising upholsterers, cabinetmakers & picture framemakers, carvers & gilders and looking-glass sellers) date mainly from the 1780s and 1790s, and the only vaguely possible candidates for the Barrymore frames (for whom records exist, that is) are three members of the Lee family – James Lee (fl. 1766-91), a cabinetmaker and looking-glass seller; John Lee (fl.1754-60), a joiner and picture framemaker; and Nicholas Lee (d.1763), a looking-glass manufacturer. It is most probable, therefore, that these extravagant starbursts of Rococo frames were made in Dublin.

Jonathan Richardson (1667-1745; circle of), Lady Lucy Ridgeway, Countess of Donegal (m. 1716; d. 1732), c.1716, 49 ¾ x 40 ¾ ins (126.7 x 103.4 cm.), later flamboyant Rococo frame of 1740s-50s, and detail, from Fota House; Sotheby’s, 24 September 2013, Lot 97

Although clearly very different in all but style and air, a related frame contains the portrait of the Countess of Barrymore’s sister-in-law. Presumably it, and a putative pendant of her husband, the 4th Earl of Donegal, were installed in the family seat, but – like the Barrymore portraits – they ended up at Foto House in the 19th century. In this design, the frieze is decorated with a carved floral chain instead of piercing; both top and inside mouldings are swept (although the back edge is straight); and the shaped sight edge finishes in an interestingly fluted ornament. Small rocailles decorate the corners, centres, and demi-centres. This is a very rich pattern indeed, and the parallel S-scrolled mouldings give it an air of continual movement. Sadly, the Countess has become separated from her husband’s portrait, but it is rather nice to think of them, when together, producing a continual ripple of synchronized oscillation – a slow cotillion on either side of a chimneypiece.

It’s not only in the pattern and ornamentation of frames where a difference from English fashions is discernible: there are few, if any, British altarpieces from the 18th century, since sacred paintings still retained overtones of Catholicism, and stood in the general mind for the religious upheavals of the 16th century and the monarchical upheavals of the 17th. The east end of a church still tended to be  decorated in the 18th century with the reredos containing text panels, which was introduced in Part 1 of this article, containing Biblical quotations and/ or the decalogue. This structure would be framed in classicizing and Palladian mouldings; the Rococo was possibly too frivolous – too Catholic – to be applicable for sacred works.

Thomas H. Shepherd (after), Lincoln’s Inn Hall, the Lord Chancellor’s Court, c.1830, engraved by Henry Melville, published by J. Mead, c.1841-44, British Museum, detail showing Hogarth’s Paul before Felix in original frame. Museum no.: 1937,0729.154

Where a painting did sneak its way in, the framing was minimal, or at least kept within linear boundaries – richly carved, but restrained in form. Hogarth’s painting, Paul before Felix, commissioned for ‘the Chappel or Hall or both’ of Lincoln’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London (and ironically paid for out of a bequest by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland), was framed in a setting sketched by the artist and produced by his Huguenot carver and gilder, Isaac Gosset [25]. Hogarth, who favoured Palladian frames, but also very British Rococo designs with fringes of rocailles in the frieze and pierced asymmetry, evolved a design with his framemaker which was admirably suited to its setting.

Jan Frans Beschey (1717-99) or possibly Jacob Andries Beschey (1710-86), Descent from the Cross, 1755, o/c,  St Andrew’s, Westland Row, Dublin

How unlike Hogarth’s frame (sadly long-vanished) is this Rococo frame on The descent from the Cross, now behind the high altar of the 19th century St Andrew’s (Catholic ) church in Westland Row, Dublin. The painting was executed only seven years after Hogarth’s Paul before Felix by one of the Beschey brothers (either Jacob Andries of Antwerp, who specialized in sacred paintings in the style of Rubens, or Jans Frans, who lived in Ireland). It had originally been sited in the Townsend Street Chapel, one of a number of small buildings used for Catholic worship in the days when the liturgy was proscribed, but which was destroyed by the collapse of a chimney stack. Fortunately the altarpiece survived, and retained its beautifully-carved Rococo frame. This has a wide and shallow profile, with a gently swept S-scrolled contour around the base and sides, and a more robustly scrolled and sculptural arched top. The ornament consists of foliate scrolling, rocailles, floral sprigs, a pagoda ornament at the crest, and a low-relief fret design on the frieze; few allowances have been made for the subject-matter, save for two animated cherubs where the arch springs.

The Knight of Glin connects this frame with Thomas Johnson [26], who was in Dublin from 1753, arriving back in London at the end of December 1755; so it is indeed possible that Johnson could have made it, although it is not recorded in his  memoir [27]. Certainly there is nothing similar in his One hundred and fifty new designs, published five years after his return, in 1761.

Thomas Chippendale (1718-79), The gentleman and cabinet-maker’s director…,China case No. CV’, p. 257-58, 1754

There are perhaps more echoes in Thomas Chippendale’s The gentleman and cabinet-maker’s director…, which was published in 1754, the year before the altarpiece was painted. There, fret designs and pagoda ornaments can be found together – for instance in the ‘China case No. CV’, if one imagines the frets as much smaller, and the Rococo leaves much larger. This would make the altarpiece frame an avant-garde production, worthy of the position and size of the painting, and symbolic of the value placed upon it by Catholics in Dublin under the oppressive laws of the time. The ‘Chinese Chippendale taste’ seems to have been popular in Ireland, with various examples of looking-glass frames being produced locally.

The Flamboyant Rococo

Rubens (after; 1577-1640), The judgement of Paris, o/c, 136.1 x 183.3 cm., Russborough House, National Gallery Ireland

Possibly one of the most fantastic Rococo picture frames in all Ireland is another of those made for the 1st Earl of Milltown. It has much in common structurally with the copy of The triumph of David after Guercino in the drawing-room of Russborough House, but where the latter is a riot of rocailles and leafy flourishes, this one is a collision of Olympian gods – an elaboration of the two associated pier glasses mentioned above, which have an eagle at the crest and a head of Zeus at the bottom, supported by clouds and the arrows of thunderbolts.

Rubens (after), The judgement of Paris, raking shot

On the picture frame there is also an eagle at the crest and a god’s head at the bottom; but in this case it is the eagle which is seated on piling clouds pierced by arrows whilst zigzags of lightning rise around it; and the head at the base belongs to Poseidon (this has almost nothing to do with the scene in the painting, where the three goddesses, Athena, Hera and Aphrodite are flirting fleshily with Paris in a much earlier episode of the Trojan War, before the male gods are drawn into it). Poseidon has a halo of rocailles, and the C- and S-scrolls around him are supported on a tumble of ‘stones’ like a grotto, interspersed with shells, whilst lithe dolphins curvet in the vast scrolling corners. Bullrushes grow up the sides of the frame towards the putti heads and urn-shaped candle-holders which sprout from the curlicues of moulding. The whole work is in fact very much like a grotto – encrusted and overlaid with strata of ornaments and motifs, which jut into the room in a restless gallimaufry of golden bits and bobs.

Rubens (after), The judgement of Paris, setting

It does the primary work of the frame – to isolate the painting from everything else around it and project it relentlessly onto the spectator’s attention – in spades; it would be the visual focus of any room it hung in, and, although it is crammed uncomfortably into the too-small space between ceiling cove and chimneypiece, it appears to leap from the wall, propelled by its gigantic screaming eagle.

Rococo chimneypiece, the Chinese Boudoir, 1759, Carton House, Co. Kildare

The equally flamboyant and contemporary chimneypiece at Carton – flamboyant in a delicate, fragile and Rambling Rector way [28], rather than in a Baroque gods, their avatars and grotto way – although of the same period, is completely different in style and technique. The Knight of Glin suggests that its carver might be the John Houghton (fl.1729-d.1761) who produced so many of the notable Palladian frames and architectural carvings mentioned in Part 1 of this article.

Isaac Ware (1704-66), panelling from Chesterfield House, 1740-49, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

He also suggests that the design might possibly be by Isaac Ware, who had made other drawings for the owners of Carton, the Earl and Countess of Kildare. Ware was British, apparently discovered in poverty and raised by Lord Burlington; he translated and wrote a number of highly important works on architecture (mainly Palladian), but also designed (as above) in full Rococo mode. His first wife was the daughter of the Master Carver to the Crown, James Richards, who was responsible for the ornamental carving on the Royal Barge, gilded by Paul Petit, carver to the Prince of Wales; this meant that Ware was at the centre of both Palladian and Rococo stylistic movements in Britain, and his work – if the Chinese bedroom at Carton is his work – might have provided further templates for carvers in Dublin. John Houghton’s contact with Thomas Johnson is another link in the potential chain of Rococo influences flowing from England [29].

This high Rococo style, beside which even the French genre pittoresque pales into anaemic minimalism, is more usually confined to looking-glasses; however, it can also be found in picture frames attributed to the carver Richard Cranfield, one of a dynasty of at least three generations, and carver of the president’s chair for the Dublin Society, above.  Cranfield’s work is recorded in the late 1750s and the early 1790s for the Cobbes of Newbridge House, as well as in Trinity College Dublin and the Provost’s House, and in the 1760s and 1770s at Castletown in Co. Kildare [30]. He was the son or nephew of a Dublin carver of the same name who had died in 1750, and had been born himself in 1731, continuing to work until his retirement in 1797, latterly in partnership with his son, John. As well as carving frames, he produced sculptural groups, bass-reliefs, architectural carving, and important pieces of furniture.

Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), Hugh Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland, 1766, o/c, 228 x 147 cm., Mansion House, Dublin

Thomas Hickey (1741-1824), George, 4th Viscount Townsend, 1769, o/c, Mansion House, Dublin

His approach  to picture framing is as exuberantly unfettered as the style of the Russborough frames of the Guercino and Rubens; but where they are sensuously modelled and sculptural, Cranfield’s frames are faintly hard-edged and less meltingly fluid.  The two frames above, on Reynolds’s portrait of the Earl of Northumberland (1766; paid for by the sitter) and its pendant on the portrait of Viscount Townsend by Thomas Hickey (1769), hang either side of the chimneypiece in the drawing-room of the Mansion House, Dublin, and are attributed to Richard Cranfield. Both sitters were Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, and both portraits were commissioned by Dublin Corporation – almost certainly to hang in the positions they still adorn [31]. The frames are a strange mixture of double hollows, one filled with fluted ruffs of rocaille-like leaves and one overgrown with undulating palm branches, festooned with sprays of flowers and leaves; the ends of cornucopiae, which appear from nowhere to empty themselves of fruit and ears of wheat at the base of the frames; upper corners composed of leaves, bats’ wings, rocailles, knulled fringes, undercut palm tendrils and floral sprigs; and an odd confection at the top centre, where tiered leaves appear one above the other. These are not so much composed into a design as piled up in a glorious generosity of more and more motifs.

Richard Cranfield (attrib.; 1731-1809), Rococo looking-glass, c.1760, 55 x 30ins (140 x 76 cm.), Haughey Antiques

It is easy to see why the looking-glass above has been attributed to Cranfield; it uses the same fluted and gathered ruff-like ornament, cut and scooped and heaped one on another, like the entire contents of an 18th century haberdasher’s shop, combined with pierced rocailles, swirling, flamelike leaves, sudden handfuls of wheat ears or grapes, and a madly asymmetrical sight contour.

Robert Hunter (fl. 1748-80), Viceroy of Ireland, George, 1st Marquess of Buckingham, as Grand Master of the Order of St Patrick, 1783, St Patrick’s Deanery, Dublin

Less likely to be attributed to Richard Cranfield, the frame of Robert Hunter’s portrait of the ill-fated Marquess of Buckingham as Grand Master of the Order of St Patrick may perhaps have been carved by his son, John Smith Cranfield. This son is reported to have made the frame for another portrait of Buckingham, painted by Solomon Williams six years later, in 1789, but was apparently not as successful a carver as his father [32]. The frame of the Hunter is far simpler and more symmetrical than the flamboyant Rococo frames above, and its shallow all-in-one-piece ornament sits on top of a Kent-like architrave with even less integration than in the frame of the Arthur Pond illustrated earlier.

NeoClassical frames

Sir William Chambers (1723-96), The Casino at Marino, 1758-76, present day and in Landscape with the Casino by Thomas Roberts (1748-77), 1773, o/c, 62 x 96 cm., Whitworth Gallery, Manchester

By this point, the fashion for most things Rococo was finally beginning to gutter and secede to the NeoClassical taste which was to dominate the last third of the 18th century. From about 1750 this style began to emerge from the conjunction of various archaeological discoveries, publications impelled by the latter, nuclei such as the French Academy in Rome, and single figures, such as the Venetian designer and printmaker, Piranesi. Ireland had a very early introduction to the leading edge of NeoClassicism through the coincidence of the architect Sir William Chambers encountering the Irish peer Lord Charlemont  in Rome, when Charlemont was in the midst of the longest Grand Tour on record. He returned to Ireland, employed Chambers for the interiors of his town house in Dublin (now the Hugh Lane Gallery), his rural home, Marino House, and the design of The Casino, or ‘little house’ in its grounds (above).

Sir William Chambers (1723-96), Designs for 3 stucco frames, c.1750-55, pen-&-wash, 11 x 16 3/8 ins (28 x 41.6 cm.), Metropolitan Museum, New York

The vocabulary which Chambers was employing can be seen in, for example, his design for three stucco frames, in which the typically Palladian contour of a fillet containing a stylized leaf ogee is offset by the light and playful frieze of palmettes alternating with leaf buds, and the fan-shaped tympana [33].

Thomas Cooley, Royal Exchange, 1769-79, Dublin (now City Hall)

The NeoClassical style seems, in fact, to have been driven in Ireland mainly by designers from England (such as Chambers), unlike the bifurcated French and British influences on the Rococo. His students and followers – for instance James Gandon and Thomas Cooley – migrated to Ireland and were responsible for a number of NeoClassical buildings, since it was a fashion which seems to have taken hold relatively quickly, for both private and public buildings. This may be partly because, just as in Britain, the classical vocabulary of the Palladian style lingered for much of the century, providing a very fertile ground for NeoClassicism to take root, and often modulating almost unnoticeably from one into the other (Chambers’s work, as demonstrated, comprises both) [34].

In the case of frames, this process is illustrated perfectly by the work of two generations of Bookers, who made and sold looking-glasses in Dublin from around 1710 to the late 1780s (it is probable that the Bookers did no carving themselves, but sub-contracted it all out to specialist carvers & gilders). John Booker the elder appeared in Part 1 of this article, with two examples of Palladian frames – one classical and Mannerist, and one a hyper-enriched version of a Kent frame.

Francis (fl. 1750-d.1772) & John Booker (fl. 1750-d.1789), looking-glass, c.1740, 72 x 50 ins, Hyde Park Antiques, New York

William Jones (d.1757), The Gentlemens or Builders Companion…, engraved by John Carwitham & Benjamin Cole, 1739, Plate 50: ‘Ditto [One Large Frame] with three Quarter Collums [sic] 2 Ft: 4 Inch: by 3 Ft: 9 Inch ½ in sight’

The c. 1740 looking-glass above, attributed to the second generation brothers Francis and John Booker, is purely Palladian in structure, style and ornament, and is extremely close to plate 50 in William Jones’s pattern book of architectural, interior and furnishing designs [35]. This is presumably where the brothers found the ‘three Quarter Collums’ which set their frames apart from their father’s. Jones’s book was available in Dublin from the year of its publication in England – 1739 [36] – putting this looking-glass at the cutting edge of the Palladian taste.

Francis (fl. 1750-d.1772) & John Booker (fl. 1750-d.1789), pier glass, c.1760, 236 x 125 cm., Victoria & Albert Museum

Label of Francis & John Booker, 1750s-60s; reverse of pier glass, Adam’s Country House Collection, 10 October 2017, Lot 282

Another glass by the Bookers, a couple of decades later, is still Palladian in structure and style, with its inner frame having outset corners outlined in egg-&-dart, its open swan’s neck pediment, its tête espagnolette in the apron, as well as sanded grounds, Vitruvian scroll and basket of flowers. However, it is now not so chaste in its take on Palladianism; like their father’s work, it is more relaxed and playful, and much more enriched; it has also sprouted tiny Rococo shoots which curl around the classical core. These take the form of a pierced shell and rocaille at the crest, a certain asymmetry to the floral garland in the frieze and the lion at the top, and extraneous modillions decorated with shells and curlicues.

John Booker (fl. 1750-d.1789), pier glass, c.1770-80, Florence Court House, Co. Fermanagh, NT

Finally, after the death of his brother Francis in 1772, John Booker continued the business on his own account, producing Palladian glasses (there must have been a considerable demand for these designs, so suitable to the great classicizing houses of Ireland), but also following the fashion into a lighter, NeoClassical idiom, with delicate and restrained chains of husks and slender architectural mouldings (above). He advertized that he had brought in carvers and gilders from London, with the implication that not only would they be technically expert, but that they would be versed in all the most up-to-date patterns and ornaments [37].

Whilst the Palladian, ‘Kentian’ style remained fashionable in Britain and Ireland throughout most of the 18th century, laying out a welcome mat for NeoClassicism, so it was also helped – in the area of picture frames – by the taste for Baroque Roman frames brought home by Grand Tourists.

John Brown (1752-87), The Grand Tour group, c.1773, 99 x 135.9 cm., and detail, Springhill, Co. Londonderry, NT

Robert Hunter (fl.1752-1803), Joseph Leeson, later 2nd Earl of Milltown, 1750s-60s, o/c,  76.4 x 63.5 cm., and detail, from Killadoon House, Sotheby’s, 21 January 2020, Lot 54

The ‘Salvator Rosa’ pattern was the frame they saw used most widely in the palazzi to which they were invited, employed as a gallery framing not only in Rome but also in northern Italy – particularly in and around Genoa – and diffused widely elsewhere. This type of frame had a completely different profile from the flat architrave style of the (pre-Booker) Palladian frame – it was a complex arrangement of hollow and convex mouldings which was typically Baroque – but it was, like the latter, extremely unRococo in its rectilinear structure and neat rows of classical, architectural ornament. Curvilinear Rococo chairs and sofas tended to hang on into the 19th century (they were comfortable), and swathes of Rococo plasterwork remained (it was decorative); but Palladian frames, ‘Salvator Rosa’ frames (or, much more likely, their British offspring, ‘Maratta’ frames), all congregated happily together in classical rectangularity, and welcomed in the equally linear NeoClassical styles.

Chambers’s rival, Robert Adam, marked out his own claim to the avant-garde by rejecting any taint of Palladianism with its heavier classicism, and noted that he and his brother

‘…have adopted a beautiful variety of light mouldings, gracefully formed, delicately enriched and arranged with propriety and skill. We have introduced a great diversity of ceilings, freezes [sic], and decorated pilasters, and have added grace and beauty to the whole, by a mixture of grotesque stucco, and painted ornaments, together with the flowing rainçeau with its fanciful figures and winding foliage.’ [38]

Robert Adam (1728-92), George Richardson (c1738-c.1813), Headfort House Ireland: Elevation of the Eating Parlour, 1771, pen-&-ink and wash, 14 ½ x 25 5/8 ins (36.8 x 65.1 cm.), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection and a chimneypiece in the Eating Parlour as finally constructed, from World Monuments Fund

The elevation above forms part of Robert Adam’s schemes for the interior of Headfort House, which – although he never travelled to Ireland – Adam worked on during the early 1770s, and which is a unique outpost of his style of decoration across the Irish Sea [39]. It shows his characteristic use of fluting (on columns and as an architectural running moulding), small and delicate motifs, and the use of colour to harmonize the overall interior, and to pick out salient features within a scheme, or within a single element, such as an overmantel frame.

End wall of the Eating Parlour, Headfort House, from World Monuments Fund

Like the central figure of British Palladianism, William Kent, Adam created schemes in which the paintings in a collection were subsumed into the whole interior: above, the portraits over the doors are set into integral stucco frames, while the centrepiece is delineated by another NeoClassical stucco frame on a grand scale, with an urn at the crest and outset corners holding leaf-bud drops. This was intended to hold a vast painted panel by Antonio Zucchi [40], but this and its fellows were never completed, so the frame is now employed as the background to display an easel painting [41]. In this way, it is reminiscent of the outer Rococo stucco frames at Russborough, which hold independently-framed giltwood looking-glasses, although Adam’s original scheme would have been visually neater and all of a piece.

Robert Adam, 1728–1792, Headfort House, Ireland: Section of the Staircase, 1771 or 1772, Graphite, gray wash, pen and black and brown ink on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream laid paper bar scale given, and detail, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1975.2.798

His design for the stairwell at Headfort shows on the first landing the use of intentionally-nested frames, with a tondo, complete with figures supporting festoons of leaves or husks, set into an architectural fluted stucco frame with corner paterae, a scrolling foliate crest surmounted with an anthemion, and festoons and drops at the base, centred on a bucranium.

Adam, Headfort House, Section of the Staircase, detail

On the flight of stairs beneath it, a panel with Aphrodite in her chariot drawn by swans is set into a frame (where the fluting is replaced by plain, pointed bay leaves) with outset corners and armorial bearings on the crest. This latter trophy may indicate that the ‘fluted’ leaf frame is giltwood and free-hanging, although it is more likely to be stucco, like the others.

Sir William Chambers (1723-96), Design for frame, pen-&-ink and wash, 8 7/16 x 3 1/16 ins (21.4 x 7.8 cm.), Metropolitan Museum, New York

Chambers produced his own versions of fluted NeoClassical frames; here, with a narrow rail entwined with pendant husks and foliate decoration. It must be for a giltwood looking-glass, and it’s a sub-branch of NeoClassicism in the Egyptian taste, as there’s a tiny sphinx and urn at the bottom corner, and another urn at the crest. The drawing is inscribed ‘T. Chippendale’ on the back.

Reynolds (1723-92), Lady Louisa Conolly, original 1775, o/c, 53 ¾ x 39 ¼ ins (136.53 x 99.7 cm.; based on the dimensions of the original in Harvard Art Museums), Castletown, Co. Kildare

A plainer version of the fluted border – this time, a picture frame, although it is also made of raised gilded stucco – contains a copy of Reynolds’s portrait of Lady Louisa Connolly, as part of the Pompeiian decorations of the Long Gallery at Castletown (the pendant, at the other end of the gallery, contains a copy of Anton Mengs’s portrait of her husband, Thomas Conolly):

‘The doors and chimneypieces were designed by Sir William Chambers, the actual work believed to have been overseen by Simon Vierpyl who performed a similar role at the Casino in Marino…
… The Long Gallery’s Pompeian-style decoration dates from 1775/76 and was undertaken by English artist and engraver Charles Ruben Riley… assisted by Thomas Ryder.’ [42]

Together with the painted arabesque decoration around them, these are perhaps the quintessential expression of the pure, simple NeoClassical frame. But Castletown also gives us a menu of many other patterns in the style, in the shape of its Print Room (by the Lady Louisa above)  – slightly fantastical in detail, but nevertheless archetypically NeoClassical in spirit.

Lady Louisa Conolly (1743-1821), The Print Room, finished 1769; detail centred on a print of Reynolds, Garrick between Comedy and Tragedy, Castletown, Co. Kildare. Photo: with thanks to Steve Shriver

Lady Louisa Conolly, detail of The Print Room centred on an image of her sister, Lady Sarah Bunbury, after Reynolds (The Irish Aesthete)

Lady Louisa seems to have collected prints throughout the 1760s, begging her sisters to buy them – especially large-scale prints – hoarding them, and then literally cutting and pasting them into a complex pattern, which required balance, symmetry, and imaginative patchworking to get such a strikingly coherent result [43]. The frames were bought separately (they were actually designed initially to frame prints which were kept in albums, rather like the mounts drawn by Vasari to display the collection of drawings in his Libro de’ disegni), and were fitted to the images in a way analogous to the framing of a three-dimensional oil painting.

Louisa Conolly, The Print Room, Castletown, detail

The use of bows of ribbon and decorative cords to ‘hang’ the prints is also a reflection of the contemporary display of easel paintings, and the ‘frames’ mimic contemporary NeoClassical style, being mainly narrow, with classicizing ornament – fluting, frets, and small foliate mouldings. Lady Louisa was evidently able to acquire material through Lady Sarah, who lived in England, and it may be that the borders, and/or new prints and festoons were less easily obtainable in Ireland, although this seems unlikely.

William Healy (fl.1769-78; attrib.), Mrs Gardiner, post-1769, grisaille pastel, 61.5 x 44.5 cm., Adam’s Country House Collections, 16 October 2018, Lot 176

The run-of-the mill modest picture frames which are the tangible analogues of the printed border (neither part of an Adamesque scheme nor a carver’s tour-de-force) are closer to British NeoClassical patterns than their Rococo forerunners. However, there are still interesting original quirks and stylistic variations; for example, this trompe l’oeil twisted ribbon border, ending in a love knot and beautifully carved in giltwood, is apparently found on other works by Healy. It brings to wooden life the knots and bows in the Castletown Print Room, and is particularly appropriate in this case, as the wonderfully-named Florinda Gardiner is shown in widow’s weeds beside what must be the memorial to her husband Charles, who had died in 1769. The golden bow thus subtly commemorates her love.

Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), Arthur Wolfe, 1st Viscount Kilwarden, 1739-1803, Chief Justice, Dublin Castle. Photo: with thanks to Aidan O’Boyle

Further examples of modest NeoClassical frames include, for instance, this one on a portrait of the luckless Lord Kilwarden by Gilbert Stuart, who spent the years 1787 to 1793 in Dublin before heading back to America. Chastely classicizing, with only a run of pearls and rais-de coeur, it’s softened and prettified by a sight edge of an Adamesque mini-bay leaf garland.

Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739-1808), Portrait of a gentleman, 1775, pastel, 26.2 x 21 cm., Sotheby’s, 4 July 2018, Lot 178

Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739-1808), Mary Aylmer, pastel, 13 x 10 ¾ ins (33.02 x 27.31 cm.), via 1stdibs

There are also examples such as these two unrelated instances on Hugh Hamilton’s pastels, where the corner paterae are like iced fancies: possibly produced by a craftsman who hasn’t quite got to grips with the classical patera as a species (and there are some very ugly rosettes on one or two of Hamilton’s frames, as well). Jacob Simon notes that there are pastel portraits of Mrs David IV La Touche and the Misses Anne and Harriet La Touche by Hamilton, of c.1795, both with the label of Joel Hulbert (fl. 1790s-c.1816) of 12 Camden Street, Dublin, whose sons were also carvers & gilders [44].

Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739-1808), Jane, wife of William Monck-Mason of Masonbrook, Co. Kildare, o/c, 501/8 x 401/8 ins (107.2 x 102.5 cm.), and detail, Christie’s, 14 July 2011, Lot 77

However, the same artist has organized a couple of sophisticated and beautiful leaf frames for portraits of his clients’ wives; the unusual almost-square format for Jane Monck-Mason has been given one of those styles which is a NeoClassical riff on the ‘Maratta’ frame, with a top moulding of imbricated bay leaves, beading, and the hollow lined with feather-like stylized acanthus leaves. But this is not the usual brief ruffle of small leaves at the sight or back edge, all of the same length: these are whole leaves, carefully alternating short and long, whilst the corner mitres are covered with a fanned trio. The sussurration of richness which whispers from this lovely arrangement is the perfect foil to the simplicity of composition and costume in the painting. Perhaps somewhere there may be a pendant portrait and frame of Mr Monck-Mason.

Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739-1808), Elizabeth, Countess of Aldborough, as Hebe, Fortgranite, Co. Wicklow, 1790, 85 ¾ x 59 ins (217.8 x 149.86 cm.), and detail, James Graham-Stewart Ltd

Another version of a Hamilton scotia frame has the hollow lined with smooth, shallow-relief bay leaves like a fringe of spear tips (exactly as seen, above, in Adam’s design for a frame in the stairwell at Headfort), giving point to Hebe’s air of stultified boredom as she offers Zeus his bird bowl. This is similarly a variation on the fluted hollow, with the ray-like lines of the veins leading emphatically into the portrait and giving (in the brief width of the frame rail) an optical reinforcement of the recessive space within the painting. It is a very clean ornament, which would fit equally into a Palladian or NeoClassical interior – although its setting for more than two centuries was more organic and then Victorian than it was classical.

Johann Heinrich Tischbein (attrib.; 1750-1812), Frederick, Landgrave of Hess, o/c,  34 x 26 ½ ins (86 x 67 cm.), Fonsie Mealy, 6 October 2015, Lot 529

Another cleanly simple NeoClassical moulding – an architrave profile, with two runs of ornament – has been converted into a trophy frame for the Duke of Hess by the addition of two luxuriant branches of bay leaves and a crown at the crest, and a small foliate cartouche at the base, ‘pinned’ to the lower rail with a trompe l’oeil nail and bow from which two of the sturdy bay leaf ropes (known as cordes à puits) also depend. The prodigality of the bay leaves is at variance with the rest of the frame, and probably evidence enough for its being of local manufacture.

The 19th century

John Downman (circle of; 1750-1824), Mary, 1st Countess of Charlemont (d.1807), o/c; no dimensions available; The Hunt Museum, Limerick

This is a trophy frame from the next stylistic era: NeoClassicism developed a sub-branch in the early 19th century, when it evolved the Regency style – a type possibly designed (or at least taken up and promoted) by the framemaker to the Prince of Wales (later George IV), John Smith of Swallow Street, Piccadilly, London [45]. This very distinctive type of frame was basically a scotia or hollow profile, which could be slightly or very much enriched with moulded compo ornament, but which also had the addition of projecting acanthus corners supported by two large, showy, curvaceous leaves scrolling out of them. The portrait of the Countess of Charlemont may show an Irish version of this Regency style. It has a convex top, very small hollow, plain frieze and sanded spandrels; it’s decorated with two runs of piastre ornament enriched with flowers, and has the Countess’s coronet on a tasselled cushion at the crest.

Regency style giltwood convex looking glass, 147cm high, Adams Country House Collections, 16 October 2018, lot 596

There were also looking-glass incarnations of the Regency style; here, a tondo frame, with the same convex top edge, and runs of small, classicizing, architectural ornament. The curvaceous, scrolling leaves now form a foliate apron or pendant, which holds the spherical shape of the glass like a great drop of dew; the frame is surmounted by an eagle holding an orb, which is either an odd Prussian reference, Zeus with his thunderbolt again, or merely a decorative twiddle, like putting lions on your gateposts. The economy of this construction means that the central round glass with its compo ornamented frame could be produced in quantity and sold separately, and that – for more illustrious and wealthy customers – the carved foliate apron and a customized crest could be added.

Thomas Lawrence (after; 1769-1830), Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, post-1811 Dublin Castle

Stephen Catterson Smith (1806-1872), John Ponsonby, 4th Earl of Besborough, c.1846, Dublin Castle

An extended and coarsened version of the style was still being made into the 1840s, as demonstrated by these portraits in Dublin Castle. The structure of the frame is wider and weightier – more Victorian in type – and the scrolling leaves and armorial crests are much more crudely modelled; the delicate profile and ornament derived from the NeoClassical roots of the Regency pattern have been remade in the light of a century where carving by hand was less in demand – except in more idiosyncratic cases.

After the first decade or so of the 19th century, the chaotic revivalism of Victorian frames had arrived in Ireland, and the potential of unrestrained decoration is exploited here, at the ornamental (and perhaps more eccentric) end of the market – in some trophy frames, for instance.

Studio of Allan Ramsay (1713-84), George III in coronation robes; Queen Charlotte ditto, c.1816, Bantry House

Two of the most extraordinary examples of this genre are the frames on the coronation portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, which were given to the newly-created Earl of Bantry in 1816, towards the end of the king’s reign. The earl had led loyalist forces to repel a French invasion at Bantry Bay in 1797, and thus merited a gift typically conferred by the monarch on British ambassadors overseas, the governors of colonies, and highly-placed members of the court and administration.

Allan Ramsay (& studio; 1713-84), George III, c.1763, o/c, 249.7 x 163 cm., National Galleries of Scotland

The official coronation portraits of the king and queen had been produced from 1761 (first by by John Shackleton, until c.1765-66, and then by Allan Ramsay and his studio), and had generally been handsomely framed, mostly in patterns carved by the official framemakers (first René Stone and then Isaac Gosset [46]). An early example above, framed by Stone, shows a nicely balanced and well-carved setting, dignified, elegant and unfussy. Other frames were used – the official pattern became a ‘Maratta’, after Ramsay’s death [47] – and there are plain architectural frames ornamented with just a crown and bay leaves, and other variations. Fifty-four years after the beginning of the production line of royal likenesses, and 152 iterations after the first of Ramsay’s portrait pairs, the Bantry paintings are slightly stuffed-looking: harder edged and less romanticized. But what they’ve lost in glamour they have gained in their element of surprise: the frames are mouth-droppingly unlike anything which was issued with the approval of the Lord Chamberlain’s office.

The coronation portraits in place at Bantry House, c. 2014

Seen in their adoptive habitat, they look even madder: a triffid-like embrace of two hefty palm branches undulating up either side of each painting towards a disconnected group of smaller (but not very small) branches on the crest, supporting a couple of mediaeval-looking crowns which also seem to be breaking into leaf. These are carnivorous frames, threatening the puny figures they embrace; and indeed a bite seems to have been taken already from the bottom rail of the substructure of Queen Charlotte’s frame. They have suffered themselves, as well; pieces have delaminated and dropped off, or even been lopped off, perhaps in order to fit the  space where they hang. They are bearing fruit – in the rather unexpected shape of pine cones – which is also rather threatening, promising further generations of triffid frames. It would be interesting to know whether the earl was able to get them made in nearby Cork, or whether they came from Dublin; or even whether they do date from the time of the gift from the king, or are a later manifestation of family pride. Since they were part of regal gratitude for the prevention of an invasion, surely they would have been given already framed (in ‘Marattas’ at that point), like other coronation portraits shipped over the world in their frames [48]?

Another portrait of a king – this time, George IV – went to the Mansion House in Dublin (which, during the 18th century, had continued to commission portraits of Lords Lieutenant). The collection was crowned, as it were, by this likeness, commissioned by George IV himself from Thomas Lawrence, and framed outside the country by Thomas Byfield, the London framemaker, in 1821 [49]. Frames made in Britain obviously still formed an important  percentage in the top tiers of the display of art.

F.J. Davis (fl. 1835-50), St Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle, c.1840s, o/panel, 95 x 132 cm., Sotheby’s, 21 November 2018, Lot 20

One of the Lords Lieutenant and his wife appear in a less than official portrayal in this delightfully naïve scene of a ball in Dublin Castle, painted by F.J. Davis, about whom hardly anything appears to be known. The occasion takes place in what had previously been known as the State Ballroom, to put it in its hierarchical context – although Mr/Ms Davis has squashed the proportions (especially the height) of the hall, possibly to give his staffage more prominence whilst retaining sight of the fairly new ceiling paintings. The interesting aspect of its framing, which may of course be a 20th century intervention, is that this current setting is actually a Rococo revival overmantel (even, possibly, an 18th century Rococo frame), designed almost certainly for a looking-glass. Of course, Mr or Ms Davis may have acquired the frame him- or herself, and perhaps even painted the panel to fit it (which might explain the low ceiling of the Hall); although the bottom rail may be a replacement. Whatever its history, it is entirely in keeping with the spirit of both subject and execution.

M. Allen of Westland Row (19the century), Mrs Darcy, 1850s-60s, o/c, 110 x 85 cm., Adams Country House Collections, 15 October 2019, Lot 264

19th century Irish frames are of course still influenced by incursions of British work, pattern books and other models, similar to Byfield’s framing of the portrait of George IV, but there are also imaginative quirks and stylistic tricks in the everyday type of pattern. One such is the compo basket-weave effect of the hollow on the frame above and the small eccentric fluted ornament nearer the sight edge, which give an interesting twist to a frame which otherwise is only notable for matching in compo the flowers on the painted dress and in the vase.

John Butler Yeats (1839-1922), My daughter, c.1877, o/c, 85 x 49.5 cm., Hugh Lane Gallery

John Butler Yeats (1839-1922), Gracie Yeats, o/c, 61 x 51 cm. (by descent in the artist’s family), Adams Country House Collections, 15 October 2019, 15 October 2019, Lot 645

Some designs might be copied wholesale; J.B. Yeats, who admired G.F. Watts and the Pre-Raphaelites during one period of his life, used the ‘Watts’ frame for some of his portraits, although this style doesn’t seem to have caught on in Ireland to the same extent it had in Britain. Yeats’s use of it here to frame the portraits of his daughters comes right in the midst of the major ‘Watts’ frame bulge in London, when its ubiquity and versatility were noted in an article [50], and he was thus at the forefront of fashion, and using a style which had no added tweaks or extravagances [51].

Irish Rococo revival giltwood looking-glass, c.1890, 229 x 138 cm., ‘probably by Butler of Dublin’, Butchoff

This being the 19th century, however, at around the same time as Yeats is striving for the avant-garde – or just a little later, in the late 1880s or early 1890s – a looking-glass in this style can be produced. It is attributed to ‘Butler of Dublin… The Butler company, established in the second quarter of the 19th century…’, although as of this date none of the Butlers entered on the BIFMO website appears to be a likely candidate for an 1880s-90s creation. It has the hard-edged finish and lack of fluency noted in the Regency-style portrait frames in Dublin Castle, as well as a clash between the rigid symmetry of its structure and the uneasy asymmetry of the figures on the crest; and in both design and technique signals an end to the long-withdrawing roar of the carving skills which are such a feature of, for example, the Russborough frames.

A brief glimpse of the 20th century

George Russell (1867-1935), The stone carriers, 1909, Hugh Lane Gallery

Following on from the ‘Watts’ pattern, another very simple picture frame design is the architrave moulding with canted back edge which frames Russell’s Stone carriers. Like Yeats’s ‘Watts’ frames, this is another use of gilding directly on the oak wood – a legacy of the Pre-Raphaelites from the 1860s, but still, in the early 20th century, ‘modern’ when combined with geometric profiles like these (also developed from Pre-Raphaleite prototypes).

Sarah Cecilia Harrison (1863-1941), Self-portrait, 1889, o/c, 61 x 51.4 cm., Hugh Lane Gallery

The striking self-portrait of the woman who helped in the founding of the Hugh Lane Gallery was painted in 1889, but may perhaps have been framed later, in the 20th century (it was presented to the Gallery from her family the year after the artist’s death, in 1942). This is a revival of the Baroque age: a bolection moulding which slopes from the picture surface back to the wall, projecting the canvas forward; but here it is stripped down to its fundamental form – another geometric simplicity – an ogee flowing from front to back, and stained and polished to harmonize with the portrait.

Micheal Farrell (1940-2000), Madonna Irlanda, or the very first real Irish political picture, 1977, acrylic/c, 174 x 185.5 cm., Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin. Photo: with thanks to Marina Somers

Finally, we have the most basic profile of all: a flat ‘plank’ frame, with no other ornament at all; but also one which hearkens back to the inscribed frames of earlier periods (unfortunately Ireland’s history precludes more appropriate examples of 15th century painted and inscribed altarpiece frames – possibly also the point). However, it is a frame which, whilst appearing to be utterly plain and straightforward, is actually playing with the apparent or constructed ‘realities’ of the painted scene. Thus the lewd and predatory male in the top right corner (a self-portrait of the artist) is inside the space of the frame, but the curtain on the left blows outward into our space, the world of the spectator, bringing with it the distorted, tortured and broken image of ideal Vitruvian Man. The room in which young Mother Ireland lies, subject to predatory men, continues up to the bottom of the upper frame rail, and presumably extends further upward inside it; but the curtain on ‘our’ side continues over the top rail, diverging from the space it belongs to (it is not just a function of outside reality, because the end of the chaise longue presses into it, and it is thus also inside the room). Meanwhile, the bottom of the painted scene appears to stop some way short of the lower rail, revealing a grim background (or backstage) of monochrome blurs and splashes, from which a monstrous white fish-like shape appears to thrust, gaping and horrorstruck, or perhaps salivating, at Ireland’s vulnerability. The (military) khaki form on the left may at once be a part of the floor under the little table, the back of a froggy thing emerging from the fish’s world, and something which was in our outer space, but which is moving quickly (so fast that it’s left a blur on the frame) into the painted room – perhaps to pounce and destroy on its own account.

How much can a frame do for a painting…? – well, that’s one answer.


With further thanks to Aidan O’Boyle for all his help; to Jacob Simon, for sharing framemakers; to Marina Somers and Steve Shriver for so kindly sharing their photos; and another debt of gratitude to Robert O’Byrne,  The Irish Aesthete, for his extraordinarily helpful website.



[1] Adam Bowett, ‘British looking-glasses: 1660-1820’, Ronald Philips, Mirrors 1620 to 1820, 2013, pp.10-12

[2] There is more information on John Houghton’s life and work in ‘Part 1

[3] The Knight of Glin & James Peil, Irish furniture: woodwork & carving in Ireland from the earliest times to the Act of Union, 2007, Yale University Press., p.76

[4] Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director: Being a Large Collection of . . . Designs of Household Furniture in the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste . . ., 1754; Isaac Ware, Designs of Inigo Jones and others, 1731, 2nd ed. 1743, and/ or The Four Books of Andrea Palladio’s Architecture, 1738; and The Plans, Elevations, and Sections of Houghton in Norfolk, 1735 (used by Houghton for a carving)

[5] James Gibbs, Book of Architecture, Containing Designs of Buildings and Ornaments, London, 1728; John Aheron, General Treatise of Architecture in Five Books, 1754 (Aheron was an architect from County Clare). The dates of Chippendale’s and Aheron’s books indicate that Houghton cannot have died in 1753, as remembered later by the carver Thomas Johnson

[6] John Pine, The works of Horace, 1733-37, illustrated throughout

[7] Irish furniture…, op. cit., p. 79; quoting from Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 9-13 June 1761

[8] See Brian de Breffny, ‘The Lafranchini brothers’, The GPA Irish Arts Review Yearbook, 1988, pp. 212-21. Philip (Filippo; 1702-78/79) Lafranchini seems to have spent the last forty years of his life, from 1739, in Ireland, although his brothers Paul (Paolo; 1695-1776) and Peter (Pietro-Natale) eventually went back home to Ticino

[9] Ibid., p .212

[10] Jacob Simon, ‘Thomas Johnson’s The life of the author’, Furniture History, vol. XXXIX, p.45

[11] Quoted by John Turpin, in ‘The School of Ornament of the Dublin Society in the 18th century’, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. 116, 1986, p. 39

[12] Ibid., pp. 40-41

[13] Ibid., pp. 43-44

[14] Quoted by Ada Longfield, ‘History of the Irish linen and cotton printing industry in the 18th century’, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. 7, no 1, June 1937, p. 29

[15] John Turpin, op. cit., p.43

[16] Ibid., p. 38

[17] Although note the caution in Nessa Roche, ‘Irish 18th century looking-glasses’, Regional Furniture Society, vol. XIII, 1999, p. 98 : ‘…the paucity of documentary evidence hinders further conclusions on the question of Irish looking-glass frames… the attributions of past decades… cannot be either substantiated or contradicted.’

[18] Alec Cobbe, ‘Restrained elegance’, Irish Georgian Society Review, 2017, p. 31

[19] Irish furniture…, op. cit.; John Rogers, Appendix I, ‘A dictionary of 18th century Irish furniture-makers’, p. 294

[20] Jacob Simon, The art of the picture frame’, 1996, p.85

[21] A search on the BIFMO website for carvers in Dublin in 2019 brought up a list of 22:

Beamish, George (1790-1812) , Bride St and Capel St, Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1790-1812)

Callaghan, Cornelius (1822-40)

Carroll, Christopher (1838-50)

Daly, P (1800-50)

De Groot, Cornelius (1813-17)

Egan, Daniel (1846-1941) , Dublin, Ireland; carver, gilder and print seller (fl. 1846-1941)

Fenlon, Patrick (1857-93) , Great Britain Street, Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl. 1857-93)

Gillespie, Sarah (1870-1900)

Goggin, Jeremiah (1855-1901) , 74 Grafton Street, Dublin, Ireland, and New York; bog-oak carver (fl. 1855-1901)

Greehan, John (1791-1829) , (or Grehan), 3 Ann Street, Linnen Hall, Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl. 1791-1829)

Hawkesworth, James (1794-806) , Dublin, Ireland; carver & gilder (fl.>1794-806)

Hopkins, William (1752) , Dublin, Eire, carver (1752). A notice in General Advertiser, 13 August 1752, reads that on 4 August in Dublin William Hopkins, an English carver, flung himself out of a window.

Houghton, John (1747-48) , Dublin, Ireland; carver (fl.1747-48)

Kearney, George (1850-51)

Kearney, Joshua (1797-1849) , Dublin, Ireland; carvers, gilders and looking glass manufacturers (fl. 1797-1849)

Machey, P & G (1813-37) , (or Mackey)

Marshall, T. (1830) , Marshall, T. (or F.)

Marshall, Thomas (1850-68) , Abbey Street, Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl. 1850-68)

Murray, George (1811-37) , Dublin, Ireland; carver, gilder and looking-glass manufacturer (fl. 1811-37)

Partridge, William (1768-83) , Blind Quay, Parliament Street, Dublin, Ireland; carver and glass gilder (fl. 1768-83)

Tabary (1699) , Dublin, Ireland; gilder and carver (fl.1699)

Telford, William (1829-68) , Dublin, Ireland; carver, gilder, looking-glass manufacturer (fl. 1829-68)

Many of the references for these were taken from The Knight of Glin, ‘Dublin directories and trade labels’, Furniture History, vol.21, Studies in the history of furniture and design. Presented to Peter Thornton, 1985, pp.258-82, which also includes looking-glass carvers and makers, and (for instance) the Del Vecchio dynasty, who sold frames for both paintings and looking-glasses, amongst many other things. Other makers are included in this article who seem not to have been added to the BIFMO list

Another search, made in June 2020, brought up a list of 18 names, of which 8 are the same as in the first list, and the rest are bewilderingly different:

Barker, James (1783-1788) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1783-8)

Beamish, George (1790-1812) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1789-1812)

Bibby, William (1747-1766) , Dublin, Ireland; glass seller, carver and gilder (fl.1747-d.1766)

Brangan, Richard (1790-1821) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1790-1821)

Burke, Patrick (1797-1809) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1797-1809)

Burnett, Peter (1767-1817)

Carroll, Christopher (1838-50)

Charge, Joseph (1784-1805) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1784-1805)

Charge, Monica (1816-1820) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1816-20)

Cranfield, John Smith (1786-1802) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1786-d.1802)

Cranfield, Richard (1707-1750) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1707-50)

Daly, P (1800-50)

Fenlon, Patrick (1857-93) , Great Britain Street, Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl. 1857-93)

Greehan, John (1791-1829) , 3 Ann Street, Linnen Hall, Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl. 1791-1829)

Hawkesworth, James (1793-1806) , Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl.1793-1806)

Marshall, T. (1830)

Marshall, Thomas (1850-68) , Abbey Street, Dublin, Ireland; carver and gilder (fl. 1850-68)

Reilly, James (1739-1757) , Dublin, Ireland; picture frame carver and gilder (fl.1739-57)

[22] Irish furniture…, op. cit.; pp. 272-95

[23] Grove Art Online

[24] Information from Aidan O’Boyle

[25] The design for the frame of Hogarth’s Paul before Felix has been tracked down by Jacob Simon and described in his article, ‘Hogarth’s framemaker

[26] Irish furniture…, op. cit.; p. 138

[27] Jacob Simon, ‘Thomas Johnson…’, op. cit., pp. 49-50

[28]Rosa “Rambling Rector” is an incredibly rampant rambling rose, bearing large clusters of scented, semi-double, cream-white flowers all summer long, followed by small, round, red hips. It’s ideal for covering a wall or shed’, according to Gardeners’ World, which neglects to tell you that it will cover the wall, the shed, the next six houses and an entire plantation of oak trees before you’ve had time to turn round.

[29] See the discussion of Russborough’s oval looking-glasses, above, and note 10

[30] Irish furniture…, op. cit.; p. 292, & p.123

[31] Mary Clark, ‘A principal ornament for the Mayoralty: A portrait by Joshua Reynolds’, Irish Arts Review Yearbook, vol.15, 1999, pp. 154-56; and ‘The Mansion House, Dublin’, Dublin Historical Record, vol. 60, no 2, 2007, pp. 222-23

[32] Although John Cranfield won prizes as early as 11 for his carving, he seems to have given up the trade in his mid-twenties. See his entry on Library: Ireland 

[33] A drawing in Chambers’s Franco-Italian Album, 1749-55, in the V & A, shows a stucco panel he copied in a Roman palazzo, of exactly the same shape as his own stucco frame with tympana, but filled with Baroque ornament. Heavy scallop shells there contrast with his own design with a fan motif

[34] In Ireland, NeoClassicism and NeoClassical ornament were also diffused through the work of eminent stuccadores, such as Robert West and Michael Stapleton; see The Irish Aesthete, ‘A tour-de-force

[35] The use of this design from Jones’s book was noted by the Knight of Glin in connection with another looking-glass (c.1750) by the Bookers in his own collection, but which is less close in its details than the frame illustrated here. See Irish furniture…, op. cit.; p. 141 & 143.

[36] Ibid. Nessa Roche notes that The Gentlemens… Companion… existed in pirated editions, too, making it even more readily available (‘Irish 18th century looking-glasses’, Regional Furniture Society, vol. XIII, 1999, p. 78)

[37] Ibid., p.144

[38] Robert Adam and James Adam, Works in Architecture of Robert & James Adam, vol. 1, no 1, July 1773, ‘Preface’, 1

[39] The Irish Aesthete, ‘A unique legacy’. Adam designed towers and interiors at Castle Upton, Co. Antrim, but these were lost in a subsequent remodelling; he also NeoClassicized Langford House in Dublin, but this whole house has been lost

[40] See the drawings for Headfort in the collection of Robert and James Adam office drawings at Sir John Soane’s Museum

[41] Almost certainly a modern choice from what was available

[42] See The Irish Aesthete, ‘Up Pompeii

[43] Deirdre Cullen, ‘Lady Louisa Conolly’s creative personal projects. Part 1: The Print Room

[44] From a list of Dublin carvers & gilders, kindly communicated by Jacob Simon, June 2020; also see Neil Jeffares, ‘Hugh Hamilton’, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, p. 10, for the full names and details of these portraits

[45] See the Directory of British Picture Framemakers , and also ‘The clue is in the frame...’

[46] Jacob Simon, ‘Allan Ramsay and picture frames’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. 136, July 1994, pp. 444-55

[47]  Ibid.

[48] See Elizabeth Baughan and Karl Kusserow, ‘Framing history in early Princeton

[49] Mary Clark, ‘The Mansion House…’, op. cit., p. 223

[50] Reported in Jacob Simon, The Art of the Picture Frame, 1996, p. 73; and for more on the ‘Watts’ frame, see ‘G. F. Watts: framing myths and portraits

[51] The friezes are mitred, however, rather than butt-jointed, as in the original ‘Watts’ frame.