A particularly rare pair of giltwood girandoles of most unusual design, retaining their original gilding and much of their original mirror plate. The boldly carved shell at the top, with foliate central scrolling, sits above the scalloped top frame, bordered by foliage and bell flower drops, which come to rest on a shaped broken pediment with deep C-scrolls and ribbed fluting. The central plate is divided by floral swags and ends in a foliate volute, from which emanate two scrolling candle arms. To either side palm fronds issue forth above elaborately scrolled foliate frame which encloses the lower mirror plate.
Original gilding. Mirror plates part replaced.
Probably purchased by James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale, for Whitehaven Castle, Whitehaven;
Then Lowther Castle;
Lowther Castle Sale; Maple & Co., London, April 1947.
One of the girandoles with a paper label on the back from which the heading W. &
M. KING is missing. The remainder reads as following:
'looking Glass Manufacturers, Carvers, Gilders &C./WHITEHAVEN,/Return
the Nobility, Gentry, Merchants, and Public in general, their most grateful
Thanks for the many Favours conferred on their late Father, and acquaint
them that they succeed him in the Business, in all its various Branches:
and continue to manufacture and sell looking Glasses, in rich burnished
Gold, Metal, Mahogany, and all other Sorts of Frames: Gerandoles,
Chandeliers, Brackets, &c. to the most elegant and fashionable Patterns, and
to any Size and Price.
Michael King (1713-1787) had a glass grinding business in King Street, Whitehaven established prior to 1762, and subsequently moved to premises in nearby Tangier Street. After his death in 1787, his sons William (1756-1832) and Michael (1758-1813), succeeded him carrying on the business which only closed doors after 1850.
Whitehaven Castle was bought by Sir John Lowther in 1675, and was re-designed by Robert Adam for Sir William Lowther in 1769 and remained with the Lonsdales until 1920. At the time the mirrors probably moved to Lowther Castle.
Seat of the Earls of Lonsdale since medieval times, Lowther Castle was first rebuilt in the 17th century, by the first Viscount Lonsdale, John Lowther. The house then known as Lowther Hall was transformed into a magnificent gothic castle between 1806 and 1814 by the hand of Robert Smirke.
The extravagant life of the 5th earl diminished enormously the family fortune and the castle had to be closed in 1937 and a twenty day sale of its contents took place in 1947.
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