Aesthetic Movement Painted Pier Mirror, ca. 1900

Value (2009) | $1,000 Auction$1,500 Auction

It's a family heirloom. My great-grandmother, Josephine Davis, painted it. Don't know when. We think about... probably about the turn of the century. She was married in 1888, and I kind of feel that it's probably something she did as an adult instead of as a teen or a girl. She painted anything she could pretty much get her hands on. APPRASIER: Did she ever do porcelain?


This is a pier mirror. And we call it a pier mirror because it's the kind of large, vertical mirror that would have hung in a room in between two windows. And in the 18th century, they used them for light. From the decorative arts period of 1880, '90, 1900, the homes are dark. And this brought just a ray of light Oh! into a very dark environment. And if you're thinking about the turn of the century into the 20th century, 1900, 1910, which I think is what we would probably deduce from the family lineage that you have, they've got electricity, but not every home has it.


And so you really want mirrors around. But this is part of a tradition of lady painters. It's a time in American history when women have more leisure, and they're beginning to express themselves through something like this. Now, although she was an amateur, she had a great sense of color. And I absolutely love the way this mirror goes from sort of a dark, somber, moody lakescape-- or riverscape here with the fisherman-- up to this wonderful, luminous sky. The sun is setting. It's very cheerful and peaceful. The other thing that's really exciting about it is you can see the foliage has moved across the mirror. If you look at yourself in it, you'd almost be looking through the trees.

Yes. It's just... it's just wonderful.

We see a lot of these painted panels on wood. Women often drew from nature, the aesthetic movement. It's got a great beveled frame on it. The beveled glass mirrors this beveling. The important part is that it's got its original painted surface. I would say an auction estimate would probably be in the $1,000 to $1,500 range.


We're kind of in squirmy economic times at this point.

Yeah, yeah.

But a mirror like this, if you had showed it to me three years ago, I would have put the same estimate on it. It's just... it's a real mainstay, wonderfully decorative. And it was originally made as a decorative art object.

It was. I love it.

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2009)
$1,000 Auction$1,500 Auction
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)

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