Label

This fire screen may have been one of several that the Washingtons used at Mount Vernon, a luxury item that shielded the user’s face or body from the direct heat of the fireplace when sitting nearby. It also provided a prominent place to display fine textiles, perhaps imported fabrics or the embroidered fancy work of a female member of the household. The original covering on this screen no longer survives. Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Martha Custis Peter, or her descendants replaced it with a large fragment of green silk reportedly cut from one of Mrs. Washington’s gowns.

Description

Pole fire screen consisting of: (A1) a stand with a plain, cylindrical pole and a trumpet-turned pillar with an everted, spiral collar supported on three cabriole legs with arissed and padded snake feet; (A2) a molded rectangular frame; and (A3) a carved flame or spiral finial with a bead top. Two brass rings with shaped backplates are screwed to the back of the frame.

The flame finial tenons into the top of the pole. The legs are joined to the pillar with sliding dovetails, and the ghost of a metal frog or tripartite brace is visible on the underside of the pillar.

One leg has been broken and reattached. The frame now houses a needlepoint panel (M-2469), and has multiple repaired breaks. The firescreen panel has been reupholstered three times, as noted on the catalogue card: with period green damask in February 1957, with green silk lampas in November 1961, and with the needlepoint panel in January 1966. The original green silk covering it had when it was acquired (W-2182/B) and the linen and wallpaper backing (W-2182/C) are stored separately.

Date

1760-1790


Geography


Material/Technique

Mahogany, brass


Dimensions

Overall (Stand, H x W x D): 54 1/4 in. x 20 in. x 16 1/2 in. (137.8 cm x 50.8 cm x 41.91 cm)
Overall (Frame, H x W x D): 22 in. x 19 3/8 in. x 3 in. (55.88 cm x 49.21 cm x 7.62 cm)


Credit Line

Purchase, 1956


Object Number

W-2182/A


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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