The Regency period gilt gesso and ebonised overmantel mirror with the heavy silvered glass divided into three fielded plates by ebonised reeded slip under a shaped pediment adorned with corvetto balls, the flanks with fluted pilasters under Egyptian Sphinx busts and feet.
The condition of the mirror is evocative of the country house; it is tired and lived in with some damage to the gesso, and with two corvetto balls missing. There isn’t anything here that is of extreme detriment to the whole but there are losses and craquelure to the gilt and many of the balls have losses. There is some slight movement to the frame as one would expect. The plate glass is not original but is not modern and the marks to the back of ‘british silvered glass p.b’ tell us that they are c.1890-1900 mirror plates so they show some subtle spotting and foxing to their surfaces, just enough to add some character. We think the un-tampered appearance of the whole piece is entirely appealing. The reverse shows remnants of the original paper backing and an early twentieth century label reading ‘Diocesan Registry, 2, Notts Square, Carmarthen’.
The influences on Regency design and taste were legion; from Sheraton’s neoclassicism, Henry Holland’s Anglo-French taste, the Greek revival of Thomas Hope, and the Chinoiserie favoured by the Prince Regent, to an interest in the Gothic, Old English and rustic and, the Egyptian revival, as we see here. Archaeologists encouraged the exploration of Egypt in the late eighteenth century, but it was not until the 1802 publication of Dominique Denon's Voyages Dans la Basse et Haute Egypte that a resurgence in popularity of Egyptology became notable. This book depicted Egyptian architecture and was a catalyst for the crazed fashion for Egypt that swept over Regency England.
The only marked difference today about this beautiful mirrors appearance, to back when it was made two hundred years ago, is the reflection.