M. Markley Antiques

Dragon Mirror 5136 in the Style of Viardot

 

dragon mirror artist palette
Item 5136 - Width 13, Height 21½, Depth 4½ (in inches)
Wood - Sycamore
Date - Circa 1900
Country of Origin - France
Additional photos below text

We were delighted to find this small mirror evoking the designs popularized by Gabriel Viardot in France in the latter half of the 19th century. For more about Viardot and the dissemination of the dragon design, see mirror 5304.

This mirror is made of solid sycamore, a wood not typically used in France for furniture except for Art Nouveau. It is strong, durable, and characterized by a fine grain, making it ideal for dragon mirrors.

The carving on this mirror is complex and abounding in detail. The focus is on a complex rendering of the dragon's head and upper body, including the wing. Unlike other dragon mirrors we have offered, this one involves no claws clutching at the edge of the glass. An elaborate tail unfolds on either side of the lower part of the mirror.

The shape of the mirror itself provides an enigma for the dragon and for us. The hole where an artist's thumb would go through to grasp the palette is turned to the upper right. The dragon's neck goes through the hole, but how? Its head and body are too big. So, did it unite with the mirror when it was a baby dragon and its head would have fit through the hole?

Dragons on mirrors inspired by Viardot usually have mouths wide open and teeth bared, as this one shows. This dragon's head is turned backward and appears about to chomp on its own wing. The head is magnificently carved, rich in detail, especially of the hair, along with a sense of movement as if the dragon has been caught in mid-lunge.

The dragon itself is in very good shape with no indication of breakages or repairs. The mirror is intact but in several small spots the silvering has worn away.

Reference

Charles, Corinne, Victor Hugo, Visions d'Intérieurs, du Meuble au Décor (Paris-Musées, Paris, 2003); Faton-Boyancé, Jeanne (Ed.), Le Symbolisme du Bestiaire Médiéval Sculpté (Editions Faton, Dijon, 2010); Lightbown, R. W., Carlo Crivelli (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2004); Vanlian, Laurent and Cedric Curien, Dream of the Dragon (Groupe Horizon, Gémenos, 2012); Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène, Le Mobilier Médiéval (Georges Bernage, editor) (Editions Heimdal, Bayeux, 2003).

Uses

This small mirror is ideal for an intimate place where it can be admired on a daily basis and treasured for a lifetime.

upper part of dragon mirror
wing on dragon mirror
detail of wing on dragon
head and neck on dragon
detail of dragon's head on mirror
open mouth of dragon on mirror
dragon's neck coming through palette
lower part of dragon mirror
section of tail on dragon mirror
end of tail on dragon mirror