Federal Style Mirror



Mirror Cornice

This is a Federal style tabernacle mirror that needs some attention. Based on condition, backboard, construction, and characteristics of gilding, it would appear to be a revival product, dating 1900 - 1930.
According to the owner, the panel was painted by her mother, and is a gracefully drawn figure of a woman in flowing gown. While not historically accurate, it is very attractive in combination with the frame, and also has sentimental value for the owner.

For both practical and economic reasons, the primary goal is improving the overall appearance. Major areas will receive full treatment, minor imperfections will be inpainted or concealed as much as practical. Unobrustive losses (those without a jarring undercoat exposed) on the ropes, etc. will not be treated at this time.




When I first saw pictures of this mirror, I assumed the red areas were attempts at inpainting before a gildng touch-up. Upon examination, these were areas with no gilding or foundation remaining, and this "lipstick red" color is something directly applied to the wood. This may have been the basis for a non-traditional, early 20th century gilding technique (seen on frames and decorative objects of this period, usually with an opaque pink ground), where the gilded surface becomes unstable and flakes off the object. The red substance did not appear to have any adhesive properties remaining in these areas.



Area of cornice requiring new gilding, and lower corner blocks were scraped to wood. New size, gesso and clay applied. These areas were leafed in 23K gold and burnished.



Only two spherules had intact gilding; upon removal of spherules, these two proved to be traditionally gessoed and gilded replacements, and attached via pins, rather than with integral peg. Considering the complete loss of gilding, as well as the fact that they are not period, spherules were water gilded in a non-traditional technique.


Gilding cornice

Gilding in progress.



Finished mirror.






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Last Update:March 24, 2011