Neo-Classical Convex Girandole Mirror with Candle Arms, about 1810
American, probably Salem, Massachusetts
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), gessoed and gilded, and partially ebonized, with convex mirror plate, glass drip pans, blown and cut, glass prisms, gilt-brass candle cups and bobeches, and brass chain
43 in. high, 38 in. wide, 10 5/8 in. deep
RECORDED: MassBay Antiques (January 1989), p. 34 illus. // “Skinner’s Americana,” Antiques & The Arts Weekly (January 30, 1989), p. 33 illus. // Israel Sack, Inc., American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection IX (1989), p. 2531 no. P6156 illus., and illus. on cover // Tom Armstrong et al., An American Odyssey: The Warner Collection of American Fine and Decorative Arts: Gulf States Paper Corporation, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (New York: The Monacelli Press, 2001), pp. 23 illus., 211 illus.
EXHIBITED: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1991, Neo-Classicism in America: Inspiration and Innovation, 1810–1840, p. 67 no. 44 illus. (essay by Wendell Garrett, and text by Stuart P. Feld)
ON DEPOSIT: Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine, 1970–88, lent by Sarah Derby Taylor
EX COLL.: [probably] General Elias Hasket Derby, Jr. (1766–1826), and his wife, Lucy Brown (Browne) Derby; to their son, Elias Hasket Derby (1803–1880/81), and his wife, Eloise Derby; to their son, Dr. Hasket Derby (1835–1914), and his wife, Sarah Mason Derby; to their son, Dr. George Strong Derby (1875–1931), and his wife, Mary Brewster Brown Derby; to their son, Hasket Derby II (1908–1959 [?]), and his wife, Alison Lawrence Haughten; to their daughter, Sara Mason Derby Taylor (1942–1894), and her husband, William Taylor, until 1989; to sale 1240, Skinner, Inc., Bolton, Massachusetts, January 14, 1989, no. 131, as originally having “belonged to Elias Hasket Derby, 1739–1799, Salem, Massachusetts, merchant and ship owner”; to [Israel Sack, Inc., New York, and Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York]; to Jack Warner, Gulf States Paper, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1992, and by descent, until 2018
In the later years of the eighteenth century, a new style of looking glass—the concave, or girandole, mirror—was introduced in England, and soon became popular throughout the British Isles and beyond. Many examples were exported to the United States, and others were made here. The mirrors typically consisted of a gilded circular frame with balls in the cove and an ebonized liner, often reeded. A variety of Neo-Classical devices were attached at the top, often capped by a gilded or ebonized eagle, with pendant leaves at the bottom. Cascading chains with gilded balls typically were suspended from the eagle’s mouth, and candlearms equipped with cut glass drip pans and prisms, and gilt-brass candle cups and bobeches flanked the composition.
The present mirror and its original pendant were on loan to the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine, for a number of years from Sara Derby Taylor and her sister, Alison Hildreth, direct descendants of renowned Salem, Massachusetts, merchant, Elias Hasket Derby (1739–1799), and his wife Elizabeth Crowninshield Derby, who have often been named as their original owners. Qualitatively and aesthetically, these mirrors rank with the best of all American girandole mirrors. The scale, the selection of the carved ornament, the condition, and the overall composition are unsurpassed, and establish them as masterpieces of their time and place.