The Fanciful Designs of Thomas Johnson

Thomas Johnson AD.121 comp c

Design published by Thomas Johnson in 1758

Thomas Johnson was one of the most skilled carvers and furniture designers in Georgian England.  He was a champion of both the rococo movement and chinoiserie taste, and his elaborate designs often wove the two styles together.

Thomas Johnson AD.121 comp b

Design published by Thomas Johnson in 1758

Johnson was born in 1723 as one of twelve children to a London builder and developer, Joel Johnson.  At 13, he began working as an apprentice to his cousin, Robert Johnson, who was a carver and gilder in Frith Street, Soho.  Once he finished his apprenticeship he joined the workshop of the carver and gilder James Whittle, which is where Johnson first met Matthias Lock.  Johnson refers to Lock as ‘the famous Matthias Lock, a most excellent Carver, and reputed to be the best Ornament draughts-man in Europe.’

A George III Chinosierie Giltwood Mirror in the manner of Thomas Johnson Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A George III Chinosierie Giltwood Mirror in the manner of Thomas Johnson Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Design published by Thomas Johnson in 1758

Design published by Thomas Johnson in 1758

Johnson first produced his designs in 1755 in a publication entitled Twelve Gerandoles.  He followed up with a more ambitious set of designs published monthly in 1756 and 1757 entitled A New Book of Ornaments that were fashioned ‘in the Chinese, Gothick, and Rural Taste.’

In addition to his work with Whittle, Johnson also provided a great number of designs to the carver Thomas Vialls of Great Newport Street, who had prestigious patrons including the Earls of Radnor at Longford Castle, Wiltshire, William Constable of Burton Constable, and the 3rd Duke of Dorset.

In Mortimer’s Universal Director on 1763, Johnson is described as a ‘Carver, Teacher of Drawing and Modelling and Author of a Book of Designs for Chimney-pieces and other ornaments and of several other pieces.’

A George III Chinosierie Giltwood Mirror in the manner of Thomas Johnson Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A George III Chinosierie Giltwood Mirror in the manner of Thomas Johnson Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

We are delighted to have this exceptional George III Chippendale period giltwood mirror of the finest quality designed in the manner of Thomas Johnson.  Carved throughout in outstanding detail with chinoiserie decoration. The cresting with a carved pagoda mounted with bells housing an elaborate fountain, the frame mounted with fantastic intertwined foliate branches further  decorated with acanthus leaves, C-scrolls, cabochons and icicles. With a bevelled mirror plate.

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