Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Discussion in 'Horological Misc' started by rmarkowitz1_cee4a1, May 19, 2019.

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  1. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Nov 26, 2009
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    ...who was the greatest 20th century reverse painted tablet painter of them all?

    The object that is the subject of this posting is NOT a clock BUT is related to clocks.

    At my fave outdoor Sunday AM flea market, I found this today before it started raining:

    Steele mirror 3.jpg

    It's a small gilt "tabernacle mirror". This was a style of mirror that first became popular during the Federal Period (roughly late 18th into the first 10-20 years, or so, of the 19th). This style of mirror actually remained popular and continued to be made through the 19th Century and even to today.

    I believe the entire mirror to be an early 20th century "repop". Has had some radiator paint applied to chips. Honestly, not the type of mirror I look twice out. But the reverse painted tablet was kinda nice:

    Steele mirror 2.jpg

    Nice period look but NOT period. On relatively modern glass. However, I noticed something that sealed the deal. The reverse painting was signed:

    Steele mirror 1.jpg

    Please enlarge the thumbnail to see.

    Clearly signed "D.J. Steele". Well whoop-dee-do.

    Well, I got really excited.

    See this Bulletin article by Mr. Dervan:

    https://docs.nawcc.org/Bulletins/2010/articles/2011/392/392_306.pdf

    Daniel J. Steele was, according to Mr. Dervan, "one of the most talented twentieth-century ornamental glass painters. His legacy includes detailed and long-lasting reverse-painted glasses on Waltham Clock Co. and Walter H. Durfee banjo clocks. He appears to be the only artist who was permitted to visibly sign his tablet glasses (“D. J. Steele”)".

    He lived a rather short life, from 1888 to 1927. He immigrated from Nova Scotia and was active in the Boston area (based upon directory listings) from 1903-1926. Where he learned his trade is not know, though it is speculated that he may have worked for W.W. Spraque & Co., a Boston area firm that also provided reproduction reverse painted glasses.

    Please see Mr. Dervan's article for more details and some beautiful examples of his work embellishing reproduction banjo's and girandoles.

    Also, a look at the Delaney clock website where one can see clocks with examples of his work. Sorry, not permitted to link to a site with clocks for sale.

    So, it appears that he also did tablets for reproduction mirrors in a "revival" style where the originals would have been contemporaneous with the style of the originals of the clocks being reproduced! Not a coincidence I think? I wonder if whomever made the cases for the clocks also produced mirrors and other "revival" furnishings, like mirrors, with Mr. Steele providing any reverse paintings? As discussed elsewhere on the MB, clock makers/assemblers often offered a range of frames, case and other furniture forms. In the early 20th Century, would not seem unusual to do so?

    As this entire posting is somewhat superfluous, why not make it more so. Since we're talking about Federal Period stuff, why not an object that was actually made during that period?

    George Hepplewhite was one of the "Big 3" English furniture makers. He published an influential book of his furniture designs (however, no pieces of furniture can actually be traced to his hand or shop). At its best, his designs were light, elegant and often demonstrated a Neoclassical influence. One feature was a slender straight tapering leg. His designs influenced both "city" and "country" makers. Well, here's an American "country" one draw stand from birch with white pine secondary:

    hepplewhite stand 3.jpg hepplewhite stand 1.jpg

    Light, delicate, well proportioned. Great overhang of the original 1 board top. The only embellishment is a simple scratch beading on the drawer front and the original brass pull. Otherwise, beautifully carried by the design and execution alone. Needs nothing else which would have distracted from it. Oh yes, original finish which I believe is as the maker would have wanted it and enhances the beauty of the wood. Skinning this piece would be a crime.

    RM
     
  2. senhalls

    senhalls Registered User

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    Thank you.......I love this stuff.
     
  3. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Thanks!

    RM
     
  4. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    I just reread...top has great OVERHANG not OVERHAND.

    Dammed spell checker.

    RM
     

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