A Beautiful Early 19thC Italian Neoclassical Painted Wood & Gesso Trumeau Mirror c.1820-30


Origin: Italian
Period: Early 19thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1820-30
Height: 61.75”
Width: 25.5”
Depth: 2.5” (at extremities)

The very pretty early nineteenth century painted pine wood and gesso trumeeau mirror, standing at over five feet, having a divided rectangular plate within a rosette, honeysuckle and palmette surround with acanthus angles all picked out in bone against a shadow blue green grey ground, surmounted by an applied frieze panel depicting Eros or Cupid to the centre holding the remains of a whip and holding a torch aloft, flanked by two putti with bow and arrow and harp both seated upon statant lions, the plate now beautifully foxed, the whole surviving from the first quarter of nineteenth century Italy.

The mirror is in decorative and part distressed condition. We believe the painted surface to be later, though it is not recently painted, probably in the early part of the twentieth century. It is a little unclear as to what surface was originally occupying the pine but from inspection it appears it was a bone colour throughout. The upper frieze is possibly a later addition but we feel it is more than likely original with good craquelure to the relief figures. There is some minor historical cracking and restorations to the applied relief elements of the frieze consistent with age and use. The plate is foxed beautifully, which is typical, with a vertical line running down both plates. Cupid’s whip is only partially present with the long flailing end being lost. There is also some typical very minor historical flaking, tiny chips, scuffing and marks to the painted surfaces with some minor loss to one bottom corner edge of the frame. There is some evidence of very small segments of gesso under-layer showing through below the paint in some areas. She is ready and able to be hung and admired with mounting plates to the top and bottom.

Cupid’s symbols are the arrow, whip and torch, "because love wounds and inflames the heart" whilst a winged Cupid subduing a ferocious lion embodies the notion that "love conquers all," drawn from Ovid and Virgil. The portrayal of Cupid as a chubby child dates to the Renaissance.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the development of decorative mirrors in Italy. The cylinder process, where cylinders of glass were blown then split open and laid flat, had some limitations meaning that only small plates could be made, so several pieces of glass would be used to create a single mirror.

A trumeau mirror is a wall mirror originally manufactured in France in the 18th century. It takes its name from the French word trumeau, which designates the space between windows. In England it is normally known as a 'pier glass'. Trumeau mirrors were originally intended to hang on a wall between windows, providing a decorative element and bringing more light to the room. Most antique trumeau mirrors are highly ornate, like this one, and often gilded. The mirror is almost always rectangular and sometimes includes a decorative portion at the top, with the mirror below it as, this example does.

A hugely decorative and attractive mirror, Cupid; we’ve fallen for you…