IMPORTANT REGENCY CONVEX GIRANDOLE MIRROR WITH FOUR CANDLE ARMS SURMOUNTED WITH AN EAGLE AND ANTHEMION
American or English, c.1825
A carved eagle with spread wings on a tapering platform above scrolled foliage and a pierced anthemion above a convex glass surrounded by an ebonized mirror slip and gilded frame decorated with gilded compo decoration and a foliate pendant, flanked by pairs of candle arms. Woods: white pine.
H: 67” D: 31”
Condition: Excellent: the bobèche are modern replacements. The original gilding has been cleaned of later paint and small areas of gilding loss have been patched where necessary.
Thomas Sheraton describes convex girandole mirrors in his Cabinet Dictionary (London,1803), saying:
“The properties of such mirrors consist in their collecting the reflected rays into a point, by which the perspective of the room in which they are suspended, presents itself on the surface of the mirror, and produces an agreeable effect. On this account, as well as for the convenience of holding lights, they are now become universally in fashion, and are considered both as a useful and ornamental piece of furniture.”
Convex mirrors with molded gilt frames have been prized for their decorative qualities since the 15th century. The first, and maybe only publication of designs for this form was in George Smith’s 1808 Designs for Household Furniture, where he published two plates by J. Taylor dated 1804 (pl.135, 136). One design was surmounted by a bat and the other by an anthemion, and this opened the flood gates for many other interpretations. The form remained fashionable throughout the Classical period. An example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art can be seen here.
The present monumental Regency convex girandole mirror, which must have been inspired by Smith’s illustration (pl. 136), boasts an extraordinary eagle on a towering platform above a pierced anthemion. A remarkable amount of original gilding survives.