8047 A FREDERIK I MIRROR OF EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE SCALE ATTRIBUTED TO GUSTAV PRECHT Stockholm. Circa 1725. Measurements: Height: 85 1/4″ (216.5 cm) Width: 37 1/4″ (94.5 cm)
Of glass with engraved gilt decoration. The arched upper section with scrolling glass frame decorated with stylized decorative motifs set to either side with finials in the form of baskets issuing flowers with two finials above with stylized foliate decoration surmounted by a shaped cresting with stylized gilt decoration, the beveled rectangular mirror plate framed by doubled glass pilasters with stylized decoration to the capitals and to the convex base flanked by a bracket to the outer edge, the frame set with glass mounts to the center of each side flanked by stylized gilt decoration, the mirror edged below with a shaped apron with stylized decoration flanked by inverted finials.
This imposing mirror is attributed to Gustav Precht, the renowned craftsman and scion of the celebrated Precht family, which was prominent in the Swedish decorative arts during the early 18th century.
The form of the present mirror is characteristic of Precht’s work, taking the shape of a rectangular mirror plate surmounted by arched cresting, supported by two opposing scrolls and flanked with a decorative element. Mirrors by Precht sharing this form can be seen in Sigurd Wallin’s celebrated 1931 work on Swedish furniture1 and in Serge Roche’s Spiegel,2 the latter example displaying the flower basket motif, a favorite device of Precht’s also seen on the present mirror.
The decoration of the present mirror is another hallmark of Precht’s work. Its delicate foliate strapwork is reminiscent of the designs of Jean Bérain (1637-1711), Dessignateur de la Chambre et du Cabinet du Roi whose scrolling ornament became one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Louis XIV style.3 A mirror attributed to Precht illustrated in G. Child’s World Mirrors shows Bérainesque detail comparable to that of the present mirror.4 This style of decoration is also seen in another mirror of similar form to the present, attributed to Precht’s father, Burchardt.5 The mirror attributed to Burchardt still bears gold traces, suggesting it once shared the distinctive gilded engraving seen in the present piece.
In the present mirror and both aforementioned examples the Bérainesque patterns are engraved into mirror glass frames (figure 1), which Precht favored as elegant alternatives to the carved giltwood which was prevalent in most contemporary mirror design.
1. Wallin, S. Nordiska Museets Mobler Fran Sevenska Herremanshe. Vol. I. Stockholm: Nordiska Museets Forlag, 1931. Plate 337.
2. Roche, S. Spiegel. Verlag: Ernst Wasmuth Tubingen, 1985. Plate VII.
3. Child, G. World Mirrors. London: Sotheby’s, 1990. 181.
4. ibid. Plate 678.
5. Silven, T. Spegla. Stockholm: Prisma, 2000. 196.