Designer / Maker
The silver by Jes Barkentin
fl. circa 1862 – circa 1932-35
Silver, ebony, ivory and mirror glass
88.9 x 88.9 cm
English (London), 1868/69
’JB’ and hallmarked for 1868/69 (on the outer left edge of the rim, and on each of the mandorlas)
The overall design of the present octagonal-framed convex mirror recalls the mirror depicted in Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Marriage (1434) in the National Gallery, London. The form appears to owe a debt to slightly later north European mirrors such as the circular-framed convex mirror in the Bayerisches National museum, Munich, and the six-sided frame containing miniature convex mirrors in the Rathaus, Alte Kanzlei (see Heinrich Kreisel, Die Kunst des deutschen Möbels, I, Munich, 1968, nos 666a and 667).
Jes Barkentin was joined in 1883 by Carl Krall, and it is recorded that the firm kept a photographic record of their productions, with designers’ names noted where appropriate.
Sadly, these albums have not been traced (see Shirley Bury, et al., Victorian Church Art, exn cat., London, 1971, under M 1). But if the images covered the years prior to Krall becoming a partner, then surely we would know the designer of the present frame.
Barkentin, and then Barkentin and Krall, made church plate for several of the leading nineteenth-century architect/ designers, including William Burges (1827-81), Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-78), George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) and John Dando Sedding (1838-91) – see Bury, et. al., op. cit., D 5, F 8, L 2 and M 1.
It is exceptional to find silver used in domestic Gothic Revival furniture.