A George I Simulated Tortoiseshell Girandole – Part One

Virginia and I have decided upon an early Georgian simulated tortoiseshell girandole to hang in a bedroom, however I couldn’t find an image of precisely what I had in mind, so I’m going to take a degree of liberty with a genre of fretted girandoles and looking glasses that were fashionable during the second quarter of the eighteenth-century (fig. 1).

Geo_I_japanned_girandole_c1720_01cFig. 1. George I green japanned girandole by Giles Grendey, circa 1720. (Mackinnon)

Giles Grendey (1693-1780) was made freeman of the Joiners’ Company in 1716, elected to the Livery of the company in 1729, appointed Upper Warden of the Company in 1747 and elected its Master in 1766.[i]

Grendey was one of London’s pre-eminent cabinet- and chair-makers who ran a substantial export business (of which japanned goods formed an important part) from his premises at Aylesbury House in St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell. Grendey’s trade card declares he ‘Makes and Sells all Sorts of Cabinet Goods, Chairs and Glaſſes & co.’[ii]

I admit I can find no evidence Grendey ever produced a painted tortoiseshell girandole or looking glass (though much japanned work was painted on faux tortoiseshell grounds), but if he did, there’s a reasonable chance it would have resembled the form of that in fig. 1 with possibly the decoration of that in fig.2 (excluding the japanning).

William_&_Mary_painted_tortoiseshell_COS_c1695_02aFig. 2. Simulated scarlet tortoiseshell chest (later japanned), circa 1695. (Bonhams)

Jack Plane

[i] Gordon Campbell, The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts – Volume I, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 450.

[ii] Sir Ambrose Heal, London Furniture Makers: From the Restoration to the Victorian Era, 1660-1840, David & Charles, 1989, pp. 71 & 240.

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Mirrors & Girandoles and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A George I Simulated Tortoiseshell Girandole – Part One

  1. FIG Woodworks says:

    Looking forward to watching your posts on this Jack


  2. I am eager to see what you come up with! I long to attempt a tortoiseshell piece but find it very intimidating. Perhaps a smaller piece like the girandole will push me over the edge!


  3. LD says:

    Jack, will your girondole be japanned as well?


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