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