Boston c. 1828

The acanthus carved finials on cylindrical pillars flanking a swiveling mirror with beveled veneered frame, resting on a trestle base with bold lotus carved stretcher and lotus carved scrolled feet on casters.

H: 68½” overall, 62” to top of finials.  D: 27½”

Condition: Excellent, with untouched original surface, undisturbed back and original mirror plate. Brass candle arms, but not sockets, are replacements.

Although both French and English designers tried their hand at this form, Percier & Fontaine using it as the frontispiece of their collection of designs (Paris, 1812), and Pierre de la Mésangère drawing many versions in his Collection de meubles et objets de goût between 1802-1830, this Boston example seems to have exclusively English roots.  Thomas Sheraton published both cheval (“Horse”) dressing mirror and cheval (“Horse”) fire screens in his 1802 Appendix to the Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing-Book that were of unquestionable influence on the present example.

Twenty five years later in 1827, George Smith published a cheval glass using Sheraton’s ideas, in The Cabinet –Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide (London, 1828), pl. Perspective XIV; (seen in the image above), the legs from a fire screen in plate XIII, the trestle base from the other fire screen in the same plate and the form of the dressing mirror in plate XVII.  This drawing is the inspiration for the present model.  It is a note-worthy example of the cross pollination of ideas- typical of the period, of Sheraton’s enduring influence, particularly in New England, and further evidence of the use in Boston of George Smith’s 1828 Guide. Elements of different published designs were often amalgamated into a single design by a cabinetmaker.  In this case, the amalgamation was done by a subsequent designer.

Though the importance of the form is suggested by the attention lavished on it by the most influential designers of the day, to our knowledge, no other Boston cheval mirror of the period has come to the market in the last twenty years nor is there an example in the literature or in any public collection.

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