Two important George II carved giltwood mirrors, part of a set of four commissioned for Castle Howard in Yorkshire, the stately home featured in the 1981 TV series and the 2008 film adaptation of Evelyn Waughs novel Brideshead Revisited, are to be sold at Bonhams
Fine English Furniture and Works of Art sale on 3 November 2010. Probably designed for Henry, 4th Earl of Carlisle (1694-1758) by John Vardy and showing the influence of his colleague William Kent, the mirrors have attracted a pre-sale estimate of £100,000 150,000.
Having passed by descent from Henry, 4th Earl of Carlisle through five generations, the mirrors were bought by a London dealer, Lionel Harris Junior, in 1929.
Three year later, in September 1932, Harris was contacted by the leading furniture historian and advisor R. W. Symonds, who had been employed by Francis A Lauder to find a pair of mirrors for Bowden Hall in Derbyshire. Due to the depressed economic circumstances of the time, Symonds, who was behind some of the most important 20th century collections, managed to negotiate the purchase of two of the mirrors although being sold as a set of four - with ease.
Harris wrote to Symonds: The four [mirrors] cost me £650. As I understand your client would require a pair, I would be willing to sell one of the pairs for £250 cash. At this price, they are very cheap, as in 1929 I was asking £900 for the four, and it is only in order to do some business that I am willing to cut a loss.
Prior to being acquired by Lauder of Bowden Hall, one of the mirrors was exhibited at the Art Treasures Exhibition at Christies on October 12 1932, held under the auspices of the British Antique Dealers Association.