GILDED TABERNACLE LOOKING GLASS
Attributed to John Doggett
Boston or Roxbury, Massachusetts
Gilt and gesso on wood, reverse painting on glass
This tabernacle looking glass is attributed to famed Boston and Roxbury, Massachusetts carver, gilder, and looking glass maker John Doggett. Its picturesque scene, with gothic ruins in a romantic landscape executed en grisaille, is closely related to other documented examples produced in his shop. Although the artist of the panel is unknown, a number of the Boston area’s most accomplished ornamental painters worked for Doggett, including the talented John Rito Penniman.1
Rope twist columns were a popular convention from 1800 through the 1830s. They appeared on a wide range of furniture forms from bedsteads to looking glasses. Here, the roping is decorated with verte antique to suggest the patinated surface of ancient bronze. This treatment is scarce, but occasionally occurs in the most ornamental of Boston area glasses.
The looking glass survives in fine condition, with a superb surface quality to the gilt. There is minor old touch-up to the landscape panel, which has a cracked corner.
Conservation to the frame was performed in April 2003 by William Lewin and Davida Kovner of Baltimore, who removed surface grime, replaced minor losses to gilt, verte antique, and acanthus ornament, and restored the ball pendants in the cornice. They applied a protective coat of shellac.
Height 44 1/4”, width 25 3/8” (cornice), depth 5 1/4” (cornice), width 20 3/8” W (base), depth 2 1/2” (base)
NOTES: 1 Cynthia V. A. Schaffner and Susan Klein, American Painted Furniture (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1997), 20, 25. Fig. 1.25 shows a related looking glass that bears a Doggett label from Roxbury, Massachusetts.