(British, c. 1697-1746)
Carved giltwood and glass
Overall: 78 x 186 cm (30 11/16 x 73 1/4 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2006.3
In contrast to mirrors today, plate glass mirrors produced in Britain during the 1700s such as this one were backed with mercury and thin sheets of tin which give them their dark appearance.
The carved ostrich feathers along the top of this mirror are a likely reference to the emblem of Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707–1751), the eldest son of George II (reigned 1727–1760), who pitted himself against his father and even set up a rival court of advisors in London. He saw himself as much more sophisticated and worldly, and in the world of design, harbored a love of all things French and modern, whereas George II was staunchly conservative and favored earlier historicist styles. The subtle carved plumes carved into this mirror suggest the political leanings of the owner who must have favored the prince over the king, a bold statement that would have been evident to anyone at the time. As it turns out, the rivalry dissipated when Frederick died prematurely at the age of 44, leaving his own eldest son to succeed his grandfather as George III in 1760.
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