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- A rare, late-17th century, embroidered and stumpwork mirror in a walnut surround
A rare, late-17th century, embroidered and stumpwork mirror in a walnut surround
The 'D' moulded, walnut frame with a central, shaped, cresting at the top which is mirrored at the base which has brackets on either side to help support it when freestanding. The central, oval cartouche at the top has lost its purl-wire border, and the central bust of a man with a landscape scene behind is very, faded and the silk is worn with losses. The leafy, purl-wire work beside the cartouche is in good condition, although the stylised floral motifs beside it are faded. The top, right-hand corner depicts a wonderful, stump-work lion inside a purl-wire border and this is in very good condition. The left-hand corner which contains a stump-work unicorn inside a purl-wire border is in the same condition. Either side of the original, mirror plate are long panels, each depicting a lady in court dress standing underneath a canopy. Both these panels are faded and the silk ground is worn. The central, oval cartouche on the base has lost its purl-wire border, and the central bust of a lady with a landscape scene beyond is very faded and the silk is worn with losses. The leafy, purl-wire work beside the cartouche is in good condition, although the stylised floral motifs beside it are faded. The lower, right-hand corner depicts a stumpwork, stag inside a purl-wire border, and this is in good condition. The lower left-hand corner which contains a big cat inside a purl-wire border is in the same condition. The two small panels beside each bracket are faded and worn. English, second half of the 17th century.
The Mary Bellis Collection, 21st May, 1987, lot 78, sold for £ 3,740, is a similar mirror although restored
I cannot emphasis enough how rare it is to find a mirror of this type, retaining its original needlework, plate and walnut veneers. This mirror would have been held in great esteem, and been made for one of the great collections of the time. It is of a type which is generally only seen today in historic houses and museums where the needlework, particularly when it is in superb condition is nearly always heavily restored or replaced. This mirror is in unrestored condition and, although delicate, the condition is stable. The more delicate, embroidered areas are faded and the silk background has hardened and is worn, while the more robust, stumpwork panels are intact and have retained their colour. The quality of the needlework throughout is as good as it gets and, although worn, the portraits in the cartouches and the figures in the two panels retain their form giving a glimpse of their original grandeur and character. The stumpwork panels in each corner are exceptional. Although the condition of the needlework is somewhat distressed in the most delicate areas, the quality shines through. I like the untouched and imperfect condition of the mirror as it is so honest and reflects its passage through time. It has come from an early house where it was a key piece in the room, whilst blending into the interior without dominating.
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