11659

PAIR OF ‘CARTON-PIERRE’ ADAM PERIOD WALL SCONCES MOST UNUSUALLY SET WITH MIRROR GLASS AND RETAINING ORIGINAL CANDLE ARMS

English. Circa 1780.

Measurements

Height: 47 3/4" (116.2 cm); Width: 18" (45.7 cm); Depth: 9 1/2" (24 cm).

RESEARCH
Of gilded carton-pierre, mirror glass and giltbrass. Each curved vasiform body is set with segmented panels of mirror glass divided by crisply cast acanthus leaf motifs. The flared “lid” of the vase is  flanked by Adamesque opposing seated griffons below ribbon-tied voluted swags and harebells.  The lower part with two scrolling candle arms with gilt-brass foliate nozzles below which are inverted scrolling acanthus form motifs which issue harebell pendants. Original gesso, the gilding refreshed following traces of original. The leaf-form drip pans with one hole each indicating these were once wired for electricity.


MARKS
Bears old paper inventory label with number in ink: 5116 


ILLUSTRATED
The Connoisseur, A Magazine for Collectors. Vol. XLVI, No. CLXXXIV, December 1916, p. XI. 

These distinguished Neoclassical wall lights made in the uncommon eighteenth century medium of carton-pierre are very much related to the oeuvre of Robert Adam. The use of paired opposing griffons, floral pendants, paterae and harebell swags can be seen on many of his furniture and interior design commissions. His “decorative vocabulary was efficient and pleasing; he stylized and geometricized the motifs he chose, and by varying their size, treatment, and colour, was able to make countless different compositions from them.” However, most unusual here is the use of segmented mirror glass which forms the vasiform body of the sconces. Adam famously employed glass as an interior medium for the celebrated glass drawing room at Northumberland House. Furthermore, Adam was “the first to make any considerable use of the wall sconce” in interior design, for example, in the Round Drawing Room of Culzean Castle, designed by Adam between 1777–1792.

Full research report available on request.