Looking glasses were to be found in nearly every room at Mount Vernon, where they offered a view of one's figure and accentuated the light in a room by reflecting and dispersing it. On this elegant example, a complex network of carved and gilded C-scrolls, curving foliage, and rocaille or rockwork ornament transforms the frame from a functional necessity into a work of art. It descended in the family of Martha Washington's grandson, George Washington Parke Custis.


Carved and gilded, vertical, rectangular wood looking glass with central acanthus crest and pendant, angular pointed ears, and meandering leaf-and-berry vines on each side; the central crest consists of a seven-lobed, pierced acanthus leaf supported on two inward facing C-scrolls that enclose a large pierced acanthus leaf above a cabochon with flanking outward curving C-scrolls; the crest is flanked by upward curving C-scrolls with acanthus or rocaille ornament along their backs, whose ends support angular, chinoiserie-style ears; meandering leaf-and-berry vines with articulated bark extend down the sides with pairs of opposing C-scrolls at top and an S-curving element composed of an inward facing C-scroll, branching acanthus leaves, and rocaille ornament rising from the lower corner of each side; the central pendant at bottom of frame is composed of inward facing C-scrolls enclosing a pierced acanthus leaf above a small cabochon flanked by outward curving C-scrolls; the pendant is flanked by downward curving C-scrolls with rocaille ornament at their centers; the inner edge of the frame features C-scrolls at the upper corners, slim, elongated columns along the sides, and a simple molding of a fillet, outer half-round, and border of acanthus or rocaille along the bottom; rockwork in the form of an "X" frames the canted lower corners.





Wood, gesso, gilt, glass


Overall: 52 in. x 25 3/4 in. x 1 5/8 in. (132.08 cm x 65.41 cm x 4.14 cm)

65.4 cm1.3 m4.1 cm

* Object size compared to a tennis ball

Credit Line

Gift of George Washington Custis Lee, 1908

Object Number


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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