Antique Glassware Part 5

I wish to refer to two very unusual glass portraits, called "Jefferson" and "Madison," which are mounted in strong gilt frames, and which are marked " Desprez, Rue de Recolets, No. 2, a Paris." I am able only to give drawings of these, but it would be interesting to know if any more such portraits are to be found here (Figure 133).

In Figures 118 and 134 are given several articles of opal glass, candlesticks, cups, and some small plates and lamps. About 1820 this glass was quite fashionable, and was used also for rosettes to loop back curtains, and upon which mirrors were stood. There is a cheap quality of glass made to-daAT which is milk white in

Fig. 133 Glass Portraits.

Mil colour, and which should never be confused with this charming old opal glass, which has playing over its surface the fleeting shades of blue and rose, which make it resemble the gem for which it is named.

Ik i Fig. 135 Girandoles f: -V.

Some exceptionally fine girandoles are shown in the following Figure (135), with beautiful glass prisms, and in Figure 136 some candlesticks with extra holders for the candles, and coloured glass bases.

Before closing this brief chapter on glass, mention must be made of one of its most familiar uses, — that of mirrors. The early ones came from Venice, and great must have been the delight of the fair sex when such objects replaced those made of polished metal, which up to that time had been the only ones in use. The Duke of Buckingham is given the credit for estab lishing in 1673 the first factory for the manufacture of looking-glasses in England, the term " mirror " often referring to a eomex glass, which might or might not have sconces for candles on each side of the frame. The early Venetian glasses in richly carved frames were very beautiful, and f ew enough, if any, found their way OA*er here. Indeed, looking-glasses were taxed as un necessary luxuries by the Pilgrim Fathers, when they sought to raise money for the expense of the Indian wars.

In England they became popular at once, and both men and women wore them, a small bit serving to loop up a gallant's hat, and one of similar size was mounted on my lady's fan or hung at her side. In Massinger's play of "The City Madam," he says, " Enter Lady Frugal, Anne Mary, and Milliscent, in several postures, with looking-glasses at their girdles."

In " Cynthia's Revels," the same author says:

"Where is your page? Call for your casting bottle, And place your mirror in your hat as I told The branch of glass-making which had the greatest success in France during the seventeenth century was the manufacture of mirrors. In 1665 eighteen work- men from Venice were established at a factory in the Faubourg St. Antoine, at Paris, and very soon after another factory was started at Tour-la- Ville, near Cherbourg. Both of these prospered, and were finally united. The plates of glass which are in the famous Salle des Glaces at the palace of Versailles were made at Tour-la- Ville. The process of casting plates of glass was revived in 1688 (for the art had been prac tically lost since Roman times), and it became possible to make larger sheets of glass than when the plates were produced by blowing.

But though the manufacture was extensive, the prices of mirrors were high. Only those who were possessed of means were enabled to have such luxuries.

There is a little anecdote told by St. Simon which proves that looking-glasses were not cheap in France comparatively late as 1699. The Countess of Fiesque, a friend of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, purchased an extremely fine mirror.

"Well, Countess," said one of her friends, "where did you get that?"

"I had," replied she, "a troublesome estate, which produced only corn. have sold I it, and bought this ta mirror with what brought me. well?" it Have I not done

This glass, costly as was, was exceeded by at least it one other, which, in 1791, was valued at thirty thousand dollars in gold. This famous mirror, surrounded by a frame of jewels and gold, belonged to Queen Marie de Medici, and hangs in the Louvre at Paris, showing still to the world that the extravagance and luxury of the present day was far outdone by the lavish magnifi cence of the Renaissance.

Tliese early mirrors had a bevelled glass, the bevelled edge being about an inch wide and ollowing the shape of the frame. An interesting one in a simple frame is given in Figure 137, and shows not only the bevelled edge, but also the small sizes in which the pieces of glass were made. Very often in the upper sections some ornament was used, either in the quicksilver, or of painting. Rarely you find one in Japanned frame, a in which case the glass will be very small, and there is another early style, which has frame of bits of looking-glass with strips of gilded wood. a Handsome glasses like that shown in Figure 138 were commonly called pier glasses, and were hung over a table. They gilt, or carved from the were carved and natural wood and not gilded, or the two were com bined, as in our example, which shows a bird, which, if had longer bill, might well belong to the style it a which Chippendale used on his glasses. All the furniture makers made mirror frames, many of them of great beauty, and some of them so overloaded with ornament that to the present idea they seem absolutely grotesque. It takes a Chippendale to put on such a frame, waterfalls and Chinese pagodas, Mandarins and umbrellas, and then to crown the whole with such a bird as never was seen, and have the thing look charming!

Fig. 137 Bevel-edge Mirror Fig. 138 Broken-arch MirrorFig. 140 Hepplewhite Mirror Fig. 141 Empire Mirror ANTIQUE GLASSWARE.

There were some men from the middle of the eigh teenth century who published their designs for these articles of ornament, and of these probably the most famous were Ince and Mayhew. Hepplewhite made some fine designs, many of which had frames enriched with inlay, and in the days when the so-called Empire styles prevailed the glasses followed the fashion of the other articles.

Very much desired by those who wanted something uncommon was a kind of glass which was known as "Bilboa." One is given in Figure 139.

The greater number of such glasses as these are to be found in Massachusetts, and have marble columns, generally pale yellow, at the sides. The frames them selves vary very much, some being of gilt and marble, some combining these two with natural wood; and there are others with fine Italian metal work at the top, show- ing vases and scrolls. The one shown here is a solid affair of gilt and mahogany, and looks as if it had never seen Bilboa, from which port it is stated these mirrors were brought home by the Massachusetts sailors. No matter where they came from, they are beautiful objects, and the one which is given here belongs to Mrs. Nathan Osgood, of Salem, Massachusetts.

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Source

The Collector's Manual by N. Hudson Moore, Amy Richards. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1906.

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