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Mirror

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilded pine, with convex glass

  • Museum number:

    W.85-1926

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case WW

Object Type
This mirror, with its exuberantly carved pediments of lush acanthus foliage surmounted by an eagle, typifies the bold Regency style. Such mirrors were often hung at the end of a room to reflect the entire of the interior.

Time
Thomas Sheraton's entry for 'mirrors' in his Cabinet Dictionary (1803) describes only convex mirrors , which indicates their enormous popularity at the beginning of the 19th century. He noted that 'the perspective of the room in which they are suspended presents itself in the surface of the mirror, and produces an agreeable effect'. As a result of this, as well as their 'convenience of holding lights, they are now becoming universally in fashion and are considered both as a useful and ornamental piece of furniture'.

Materials & Making
By about 1795 the Ravenhead works at St Helen's, Lancashire, of the British Cast Plate Glass Manufacturers had mastered the technological difficulties of making large convex mirror glass. Convex mirrors had been produced in England previously, but on a much smaller scale for items such as shaving mirrors.

Physical description

The convex glass is contained within a reeded ebonized border, and the cavetto moulding of the frame is carved with paterae. On the cresting, an eagle displayed surmounts a vase, springing from large acanthus foliage. At the base is a pendant of acanthus.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1800 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gilded pine, with convex glass

Dimensions

Height: 254 cm, Width: 106.68 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: Similar mirrors are shown in George Smith's 'Household Furniture', 1808.

This mirror was purchased from Moss Harris & Sons, 44 New Oxford Street, London WC1 in September 1926 for £65 (See Nominal File MA/1/H857 Harris M. Sons) . No earlier history is recorded. This would have been an early date for the purchase of Regency furniture by the Museum.

Descriptive line

Mirror, carved gilt frame of circular form, English,1800-1805

Labels and date

Convex mirrors became very fashionable in early 19th-century England, perhaps because of their unusual shape, and Thomas Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary (1803) commented on their popularity and the way that candle holders could be added to them. This example, with its eagle and acanthus leaf, shows how various decorative details could be added to the basic shape. [1996]
British Galleries:
Mirrors of this type became popular in about 1800. Various examples were illustrated in George Smith's 'Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration', published in 1808. This example shows how various details, such as the eagle and acanthus leaf, were added to a basic circular mirror. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Pine

Techniques

Carving; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Eagle (bird); Paterae (motifs); Vase; Acanthus

Categories

British Galleries; Woodwork; Household objects; Mirrors

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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