French Trumeau with Romantic Country Scene
55" x 25.5"
Dating from the early 19th century, this French trumeau boasts a beautifully patinated mirror and painted country scene, enclosed in a gold frame. Trumeau mirrors, also known as pier glasses, took the form of a painted or carved upper portion and small mirror below, in front of which a candle would have been placed to reflect light and brighten dark rooms. These decorative objects emerged in France in the 18th century, gaining further popularity as mirrors became more widely available to the public. As the Industrial Revolution took hold in the 19th century, the merchant class grew their wealth and purchased decorative items such as this to emulate the interiors of stately and upper-class homes. The French word “trumeau” translates to the space between windows, where these mirrors would originally have been positioned, usually above a mantle or console table. This placement accounts for their typical long rectangular shape. On this delightful trumeau, a peaceful scene unfolds as a young man, woman, and labourer rest from their work sheaving wheat. As they sit by a small stream, the young man removes his shoes to massage his sore feet and the woman kneels to help, with a basket in her arm perhaps containing a picnic. A cozy cottage and soft blue sky complete the painted idyll, which heavily romanticizes the lives of the working classes. This would be a beautiful and functional accent piece for a living room or bedroom.
At this time in history, 19th-century France, like much of Europe and beyond, underwent immense shifts due to the innovations and cultural changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. This included important developments in plate glass manufacturing which allowed for the production of larger and cheaper mirrors, which had begun to be considered artistic and aesthetic elements in their own right following their extensive use at Louis XIV’s (r. 1643–1715) Palace of Versailles (construction begun 1661).