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Luke Beckerdite
American Rococo Looking Glass: From Maker's Hand to Patron's Home

American Furniture 2009

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Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Plate 170 in the third edition of Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director (1762). (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) This plate does not appear in the 1754 and 1755 editions.

  • Figure 2a
    Figure 2a

    Looking glass bearing the label of John Elliott, England, ca. 1765. Mahogany with spruce and scots pine. 57" x 20 1/2". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) The label on this looking glass is in English and German. 

  • Figure 2b
    Figure 2b

    Looking glass bearing the label of John Elliott, England, ca. 1765. Mahogany with spruce and scots pine. 57" x 20 1/2". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) The label on this looking glass is in English and German. 

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    John Singleton Copley, Ezekiel Goldthwait, Boston, Massachusetts, 1771. Oil on canvas, 50 1/8" x 40". (Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, bequest of John T. Bowen in memory of Eliza M. Bowen.) The frame is attributed to Boston carver John Welch. 

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Detail of the carving on the frame illustrated in fig. 3. 

     

     

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Looking glass attributed to John Welch, Boston, Massachusetts, 1775–1790. Mahogany and white pine (gilded components) with white pine. 43 1/2" x 19 1/2". (Courtesy, Sotheby’s.)

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Plate 146 in the first and second editions of Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director (1754, 1755). (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Desk-and-bookcase, Boston, Massachusetts, 1770–1790. Mahogany with cherry and white pine. H. 98 1/2", W. 47 1/4", D. 24 3/4". (Courtesy, Historic New England, gift of Elizabeth Inches Chamberlain in memory of her father, Henderson Inches; photo, Richard Cheek.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Detail of the bird ornament on the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 7. 

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Memorial to Lady Anne Murray, attributed to John Lord, Charleston, South Carolina, 1768–1772. White pine. 73 1/2" x 51 1/4". (Courtesy, First Scots Presbyterian Church; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) As is the case with this memorial, some eighteenth-century looking glasses were painted in imitation of stone. 

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Looking glass attributed to John Pollard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1770–1780. Mahogany with white pine. Dimensions not recorded. (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Comparative illustration showing (left) the garland on the right side of the looking glass illustrated in fig. 10, (right) a garland from the parlor of the Thomas Ringgold House in Chestertown, Maryland. (Photos, Gavin Ashworth.) All of the carving in the Ringgold House is attributed to John Pollard. Eighteenth-century patrons occasionally commissioned the same tradesman to furnish both furniture and architectural carving. Although there is no evidence that Thomas Ringgold owned this looking glass, its garlands and those in his house show how harmonious the visual interplay between furniture and architectural carving could have been.

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Bill from James Reynolds to John Cadwalader for work performed between December 5, 1770, and March 15, 1771. (Courtesy, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Pier glass attributed to the shop of James Reynolds, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1770–1771. White pine with tulip poplar. 55 1/2" x 28 1/2". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) 

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail of the iron armature on the back of the pier glass illustrated in fig. 13.

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Detail of the upper left corner of the pier glass illustrated in fig. 13. Reynolds applied three coats of relatively coarse gesso to the frame. The entire gesso zone is off-white in color with a gradation from dark to light. This may indicate a reduction in the percentage of glue used in the second and third coats. 

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Pier glass attributed to the shop of James Reynolds, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1766–1775. White pine. 60 1/2" x 30 1/4". (Courtesy, Cliveden, a co-stewardship property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The sides of the Fisher and Cadwalader frames appear to have been laid out with the same pattern (figs. 13, 16, 17). 

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Comparative illustrations showing, from left to right, the lower right corner of the pier glass illustrated in fig. 13 and the lower right corner of the pier glass illustrated in fig. 16. Patterns typically transferred only the basic outlines of carved detail, which accounts for variations within and between these looking glass frames. After laying out the carving on one side, Reynolds simply flipped the pattern to lay out the other side.

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Pier glass attributed to the shop of James Reynolds, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1766–1775. White pine. 48" x 26". (Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Pier glass attributed to the shop of James Reynolds, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, probably 1772. White pine. 78" x 42". (Courtesy, Cliveden, a co-stewardship property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) This glass is one of a pair.

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Girandole attributed to the shop of James Reynolds, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, probably 1772. White pine. 38 1/2" x 23 1/4". (Courtesy, Cliveden, a co-stewardship property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The branches are missing. Their original place of attachment corresponds with the oval element above the opposing C-scrolls at the bottom of the frame.

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Cadwalader, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1770. Oil on canvas. (Courtesy, Philadelphia Mu­seum of Art; purchased for the Cadwalader Collection with funds contributed by the Mabel Pew Myrin Trust and the gift of an anonymous donor, 1983.) The frame is attributed to the shop of James Reynolds and measures approximately 60" x 50". All four sides have had their outer edges altered. This example is one of the three “1/2 Length Picture frames in Burnish Gold” listed in the bill illustrated in fig. 12.

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Charles Willson Peale, Hannah Cadwalader, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1770. Oil on canvas. (Courtesy, Philadelphia Museum of Art; purchased for the Cadwalader Collection with funds contributed by the Mabel Pew Myrin Trust and the gift of an anonymous donor, 1983.) The frame is attributed to the shop of James Reynolds and measures approximately 60" x 50". All four sides have had their outer edges altered. This example is one of the three “1/2 Length Picture frames in Burnish Gold” listed in the bill illustrated in fig. 12.

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Charles Willson Peale, Lambert Cadwalader, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1770. Oil on canvas. (Courtesy, Philadelphia Museum of Art; purchased for the Cadwalader Collection with funds contributed by the Mabel Pew Myrin Trust and the gift of an anonymous donor, 1983.) The frame is attributed to the shop of James Reynolds and measures approximately 60" x 50". All four sides have had their outer edges altered. This example is one of the three “1/2 Length Picture frames in Burnish Gold” listed in the bill illustrated in fig. 12.

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Charles Willson Peale, The John Cadwalader Family, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1771. Oil on canvas. (Courtesy, Philadelphia Museum of Art; purchased for the Cadwalader Collection with funds contributed by the Mabel Pew Myrin Trust and the gift of an anonymous donor, 1983.) The frame is attributed to the shop of James Reynolds and measures approximately 60" x 50". All four sides have had their outer edges altered.

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Molding sections, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1765–1775. White pine. (Courtesy, Powell House; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The moldings at the upper left and center are cornice sections. The molding at the upper right appears to be the lower element of a chair rail. The molding at the bottom center may be a picture slip or a section of an architrave surround.

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Card table attributed to Thomas Affleck with carving attributed to the shop of James Reynolds, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1771. Mahogany with yellow pine, white oak, and tulip poplar. H. 28", W. 39 1/2", D. 19 1/4". (Courtesy, Dietrich American Foundation; photo, Will Brown.) Either this table or its mate is depicted in Charles Willson Peale’s portrait The John Cadwalader Family illustrated in fig. 24.

  • Figure 27a
    Figure 27a

    Details showing the cabachon and acanthus on the pier glass illustrated in fig. 13. 

  • Figure 27b
    Figure 27b

    Details showing the cabachon and acanthus on the front rail of the card table illustrated in fig. 26.

  • Figure 27c
    Figure 27c

    Details showing the acanthus in the upper left corner of the pier glass illustrated in fig. 13.

  • Figure 27d
    Figure 27d

    Details showing the acanthus on the front rail of the card table illustrated in fig. 26. 

  • Figure 28a
    Figure 28a

    A Draft of Ornaments for the Hall at Whitehall, Annapolis, Maryland, ca. 1765. Pencil on paper. Dimensions not recorded. (Photo, Luke Beckerdite.)

  • Figure 28b
    Figure 28b

    A Draft of Ornaments for the Hall at Whitehall, Annapolis, Maryland, ca. 1765. Pencil on paper. Dimensions not recorded. (Photo, Luke Beckerdite.)

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Detail of a mask representing one of the four winds in the great hall of Whitehall, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1765–1770. White pine. Dimensions not recorded. (Photo, Luke Beckerdite.)

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Detail of a garland in the hall of Whitehall, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1765–1770. White pine. Dimensions not recorded. (Photo, Luke Beckerdite.)