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With its eagle and lamp finials, attenuated pilasters, and delicate gilt painted garlands, this looking glass is an exceptional example of neoclassical, pillar type mirrors. The top panel features the Washington family crest and shield at center. When it was offered at auction by Lawrence Washington in 1891, it was believed to have been owned by George Washington and to have originally hung in the Front Parlor at Mount Vernon; however, its style postdates his lifetime. It may have been commissioned by a subsequent owner, such as Washington’s nephew, Bushrod Washington.

Description

Gilded, vertical, rectangular, pillar looking glass with eagle final at center top and classical lamp finials at each upper corner, of the molded, projecting cornice, a reverse-painted glass or verre églomisé panel with the Washington coat-of-arms, and double pilasters along each side. The eagle is crouched atop a Prince-of-Wales feathers or acanthus ornament. The flaming lamp finials each have three, pear-shaped drops hung by chains from their collars or necks, with two drops hung on each outer edge, and one drop hung from each inside edge. The upper glass panel is painted at center in gold and black with the Washington family crest (a griffin emerging from a coronet with a wreath of liveries) above the shield (three stars or mullets above two bars) with palms on either side and the Washington motto “EXITUS ACTA PROBAT” painted on a ribbon below, all within a circular white reserve with a black scalloped inner border and plain, gilt outer border. Traces of gilt, arabesque-style ornament remain on the surrounding black-painted glass plate. A line of carved beading divides the opening for the reverse-painted panel from the opening for the mirror below. Along each side of the mirror are narrow, reverse-painted glass panels with remnants of gilt vines on a dark background inset between fluted half pilasters. Cut-out vines of metallic paper have been inserted behind the original glass side panels to compensate for the loss of the original gilded design. Each of the pilasters has an applied capital with a flower at center, volutes on the sides with egg-and-dart molding and beading between them, and acanthus carving on the drum below, and compressed, spool-like bases that stand on projecting blocks at the lower edge of the frame. The lower front of the frame has a laurel wreath molding along the top edge and a leaf-and-tongue molding above the sight edge.

Date

1800-1820


Geography


Material/Technique

Gilt, gesso, pine (frame and backboard), glass


Dimensions

Overall (H x W x D): 60 in. x 42 in. x 4 in. (152.4 cm x 106.68 cm x 10.16 cm)


Credit Line

Purchase, 1891


Object Number

W-29


Colors (Beta)


Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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