Looking at images of Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, I was struck by the differences between two pieces of furniture, both made by the same cabinetmaker.
The magnificent sofas in the Drawing Room featuring supine mermaids and sea gods were made by John Linnell in 1765 to suit the maritime theme of the room.
Linnell was working to a design by Robert Adam, but also incorporated elements of his own designs for King George III’s coronation coach.
Linnell also supplied a chinoiserie porcelain cabinet for Kedleston, using the ‘pagoda’ roof motif that he also deployed in the famous Badminton bed, now in the V&A.
These very different pieces show how cabinetmakers like Linnell were able to switch styles with ease when required.
It also tells us something about the different social associations of the classical/rococo style and the chinoiserie style: whereas the former was always chosen for the most formal and grand spaces of a house, the latter would appear in the more informal, intimate rooms.