A Large and Important George I Gilt-Gesso Pier Glass, Attributed to John Belchier, Circa 1725. England.
Divided by the original arched and rectangular soft bevelled mirror plates within a gadrooned and foliate-carved border surmounted by an impressive foliate crest, flanked by profusly carved scrolling acanthus wings above a punch decorated carved frieze.
‘The Sun’, south side of St Paul’s Churchyard, London; cabinet maker (fl.1699-d. 1753).
This impressive mirror can be confidently attributed to the London cabinetmaker John Belchier based on similarities with two large pier glasses he supplied in 1723 and 1726 to John Meller at Erdigg in Denbighshire, Wales (National Trust; illustrated, Early Georgian Furniture, by Adam Bowett, p.292 plates 6:50-51). Originally destined for the Second Best Bedroom and Best Bedchamber respectively, they now hang in the Saloon. The earlier mirror shares comparable strapwork cresting with double scrolls centering a mask whilst the second incorporates bold, inward-curving scrolls carved in high relief along the upper border of the frame that overlap onto the top edge of the plate. These distinctive, palm-like scrolls appear on other mirrors attributed to Belchier, among them an example in the Untermyer Collection, Metropolitan Museum, New York (46.116), and a girandole mirror also with a central winged cherub mask in the crest sold Sotheby’s London, 20 November 2007, lot 13.
John Belchier (d.1753), possibly of Huguenot origin, was born in Oxfordshire and served his apprenticeship with the London Joiners’ Company from 1699-1707. By 1717 he was established at ‘The Sun’ in St Paul’s Churchyard, London, where his trade bill described his activities as a supplier of ‘All sorts of Cabinet Work, Chairs, Glasses, Sconces, & Coach Glasses’, and another trade bill indicated he ‘Grinds & Makes-up all sorts of fine Peer & Chimney Glasses and Glass Sconces, Likewise all Cabbinet Makers Goods’, suggesting mirrors and sconces were a particular speciality of his workshop. His most significant client was the London solicitor and Master of the High Court of Chancery John Meller (1665-1733) for his country estate at Erdigg near Wrexham, and in addition to pier glasses and sconces Belchier provided a magnificent carved and gilt wood State Bed in 1720 and is believed to have supplied two japanned bureau cabinets, another type of furniture with which Belchier’s workshop is often associated.