I know this isn't a very good photo; you'll just have to visit the mirror in person, won't you?

Here’s another oft-overlooked piece from the Beall-Dawson House, with its own story to tell. This mirror, or tall pier glass, comes from the Anderson home in Rockville. It was designed to fit between the tall, narrow windows in the first floor parlor. (A “pier glass” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a large high mirror, especially one designed to occupy the wall space between windows.”) Unlike some examples, this mirror is a free-standing piece of furniture, with a small marble-topped base. There are matching wooden ‘valances’ (now detached) which went around the window frames, integrating the mirror into the windows on either side.

Unfortunately, we have no photos of the mirror in situ. It may have originally come from the Vinson house, elsewhere in Rockville – this is one of those donations where, in addition to the official paperwork, there are notes written on notes attached to more notes, resulting in some conflicting information – but if nothing else the mirror does appear in a 1967 inventory of the Anderson House, in the “first floor living room.”

At the top of the mirror, and on each side valance, is a woman’s face made of gilded plaster. According to information provided by the Anderson family (on one of the notes mentioned above), this head represents Clara Louise Kellogg, an American soprano who was particularly famous in the 1860s and 1870s. According to this article most of the busts and faces on late Victorian furniture that were popularly believed to portray Miss Kellogg or Jenny Lind are not actually meant to be their portraits, although Miss Kellogg’s image was occasionally used on furniture. (If you’d like to see what Miss Kellogg actually looked like, here’s a photo from the Library of Congress collections.)

There is also a signature (or at least a word) written in pencil underneath the marble top, not that it’s helped me identify a maker, store, or much of anything so far. Any 19th century furniture fans recognize the word?

Advertisements