Monumental Pier or Overmantle Mirror

Classical Gilt-Wood Pier Mirror: Detail of acanthus leaf carving at the corners.
Carved Gilt-wood Pier Mirror by Charles Robinson: The paneled and gilded rectangular frame with bold acanthus leaf carving at the corners and mid-span between the corners, holding the original single heavy plate glass.  36½ inches x 70¾ inches
Carved Gilt-wood Pier Mirror : Detail of mid-span carving; acanthus leaves centering a rosette.
Asher Benjamin, The American Builder’s Companion; or A New System of Architecture, 2nd edition (Charlestown: Samuel Etheridge, 1811), pl. 30, drawn by Daniel Raynerd.

Monumental Pier or Overmantle Mirror, Attributed to Charles N. Robinson, Philadelphia, c. 1840

The paneled and gilded rectangular frame with bold acanthus leaf carving at the corners and mid-span between the corners holding the original single heavy plate glass.

36½ inches x 70¾ inches

Condition: Excellent: In near pristine original condition with all un-touched original gilding, mirror plate and back boards, with minor losses to a few leaf tips.

The attribution to Charles N. Robinson is based on a very closely related labeled mirror in the collection of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.[1]  The label on the Athenaeum mirror reads:

CHARLES N. ROBINSON
LOOKING GLASS MANUFACTURER…

“Importer of Plate Glass, engravings, &c., No. 86 Chestnut Street, directly opposite Congress Hall Philadelphia

At whose establishment may always be found an extensive assortment of PIER, MANTEL & CHAMBER LOOKING-GLASSES, From the most celebrated French and British Factories, Framed in every variety of style, and finished under his immediate inspection.  Also, carved and gilt brackets, large and small size Mahogany, Ash & Maple Frame Glasses, Toilet & Swing do.

Together with large variety of Portrait and Picture Frames, Finished either in Burnish, Matt, or Oil Gilding, of every pattern, constantly on hand, or finished to order at short notice.

Looking-Glasses re-silvered and Frames Re-Gilt.

An immense assortment of ENGRAVING on hand, in the sheet, suitable for FRAMING or Port Folios; all of which are offered at Low Prices, WHOLESALE OR RETAIL.  Country Merchants and others, having Orders for any article connected with the Looking-Glass and Print Business, can have them executed at this Old Establishment, at short notice and Lowest Prices.

…Printing Office, Ledger Building, Philadelphia.”

It appears that Robinson’s design for the acanthus leaf carving was inspired directly from Asher Benjamin’s 1811 publication. Robinson was active in Philadelphia between 1811 and 1856 and at 86 Chestnut from 1837-1849.

[1] The pier mirror at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia measures 46″ x 78″, has a flat frame with carved foliate corner elements of the same design as the present mirror but lacks the mid-span rosette and foliate carving.

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