According to family history, this looking glass once hung in the executive mansion in Philadelphia during George Washington’s presidency. James Peale, miniature painter and brother of artist Charles Willson Peale, is believed to have purchased it at a sale of furnishings held at the end of Washington’s second term. The eagle finial is likely a replacement, added by a later owner to fill the place of a gilt phoenix- or urn-type finial. It is one of two looking glasses with a Washington association that descended in the Peale family.
See also W-106.
Vertical, rectangular, scrolled pediment and fret-sawn looking glass with a carved and gilded eagle finial atop the central plinth of a veneered frame with leaf-like scrolls at the crest between the scrolled pediment and the plinth, upper brackets with leaf-like scrolls and supports, lower brackets with long, straight scrolls and double-ogee supports, and a scrolled base with a central lunette flanked by ogees with forked ends and tripartite drops. The pediment or crest features carved and gilded floral rosettes or medallions with upward-climbing leaves at its terminals, an applied cornice of foliate-carved cove molding, and a frieze with hollowed or cove ends. Gilded floral and foliate pendants are affixed to the sides. The shaped sight edge, accented by gilded, foliate-carved molding, features a repeating pattern of ogees.
The frame members are mitered together at the corners. The crest is a single board of horizontal grain butted against the top of the frame. This joint is reinforced by two sets of horizontal and vertical glue blocks. The center brace that was once glued behind the finial has been lost. The base is a single board butted against the edge of the frame. This joint is reinforced by two horizontal glue blocks. A vertical brace is glued behind the central drop of the base. The scrolls glued to the frame’s sides are each a single piece, and several retain traces of graphite pattern outlines on their veneered fronts. The backboard is composed of three horizontally joined pieces and is held in the frame with nails. It was formerly covered with a layer of newspapers, remnants of which are still present around the edge of the frame.
The eagle finial is almost certainly a replacement.
Mahogany veneer (primary), gilt, gesso, glass
Overall (H x W x D): 52 in. x 24 1/4 in. x 4 in. (132.08 cm x 61.6 cm x 10.16 cm)
Gift of the Essex Chapter of the D.A.R. of New Jersey, 1922
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