A very fine early 18th century giltwood mirror, the shaped and bevelled plate contained within a carved and gilt gesso frame, the scrolled cresting centred by a plumed male mask, the shaped apron centred by a scallop shell.
Mirrors such as this would have been placed on the pier wall between two windows. They were highly prized for their decorative quality as well as for the value of the mirror. Towards the end of the 17th century, Bernard Perrot, working at Tourlaville, developed the casting method making it possible to create larger sheets of glass. At this time, mercury was used to produce the reflective surface. This mirror plate is shaped and bevelled, or ‘diamond cut’, as it was termed in the 18th century. Diamond cutting was described in 'Art of Glass' by A. Blancourt, published in 1699, and was achieved by “grinding crystal on drift sand and water, as much as you think convenient”.
With the central mask set into the crest and scallop shell motif at the base, this giltwood frame is an early example of the uniquely British Palladian style. Palladianism was first seen in about 1715, largely transmitted through the work of British 17th century architect, Inigo Jones. Objects created for these interiors were based on Classical forms with symmetrical designs and features such as columns, pediments, masks and shells; their forms deriving from Antique examples.
Benjamin Goodison, a cabinet-maker in Royal service from 1726 until his death in 1767, produced mirror designs with masks and plumed pediments, similar to the one featured here. Known examples of his work can be seen at Hampton Court Palace where he made three mirrors for Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1732-33.
F. Lewis Hinkley, 'Queen Anne and Georgian Looking Glasses, Old English and Early American', New York University Press, New York, 1988.
G. Child, 'World of Mirrors, 1650-1900', Philip Wilson Publishers Limited, 1990, pp. 73-75.
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