Classical Pier Mirror

New York City, New York
Circa 1825
Maker: George Dixey

This handsome, unusually large mirror retains a wonderful gilt finish. Other features are a cornice with gilded acorns and spiral turnings combined with cast plaster grape leaves and clusters. The tablet above the mirror plate frames a large flower.

An intact label on the back of the mirror reads: LOOKING GLASS / AND / PRINT WAREHOUSE. / GEORGE DIXEY, / Carver and gilder, / No. 63 CHATHAM STREET, / NEW YORK / Prints, Glasses and Ladies _ _ _ _ -Work _ _ _ _- / ed in the neatest manner.

Of interest is the maker, George Dixey, who sold art supplies to Thomas Cole. Dixey is described on pages 47-49 in Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861, as “carver and gilder who plied his trade and sold art supplies on Chatham Street.” “This story of Cole’s brilliant entry into New York, which expedited the successes of his subsequent career, is a key chapter in the artist’s biography. Moreover, the episode reveals the complicated and flexible workings of New York’s contemporary art scene, which was populated by characters who slipped in and out of their roles to suit the situation at hand. First there was Dixey, who played a minor part in the narrative as the owner of a shop to which an artist might have gone for assistance. Many artists’ supply shops sold works of art as an extension of their primary business and as a favor to their clients, a practice that engendered additional business: the paintings were made of the very materials purchased by their creators, who responded by buying more supplies. . . . The modest price Dixey charged for Cole’s works suggests that the relationship between shop owner and artist was based on the granting of favors rather than on hopes for great profits, although Dixey surely took a bit off the top.”

Reference: Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861, Catherine Hoover Voosanger, John K. Howat, Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York, NY) – 2000

Gilt on pine (secondary wood: poplar)
Height: 61” Width: 36” Depth: 6½”

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