Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary
Convex Mirror / Girandole Mirror / Bulls-Eye Mirror
Girandlo pronounced: JIR an dole
Definition: An ornate candle holder; often with a mirror.
These Federal style mirrors, often called Girandole mirrors, derive their name from the candle arms, called girandoles, which were originally attached to wall mirrors to reflect light into a room. These mirrors are sometimes called especially when convex mirror glass is used. A large girandole mirror with convex glass can reflect an entire room. Pairs of girandoles and were frequently used flanking a fireplace. Girandole mirrors were popular in both England and America in the 18th century.
- Richard Rothstein Classic Interiors (online July 2016)
Named for the candle arms attached to the mirror frame, Girandole mirrors became a major source of light for well-to-do homes. Because of the rounded convex shape of the glass that protruded into the room, with the added candle arms and candles, a Girandole mirror could light up the entire space, especially when used in pairs. Pairs of these mirrors were situated on either side of a fireplace in the drawing or living room of the home. Most of the convex glass and even some parts of the frames were usually imported, which makes it hard to identify American designers and manufacturers of these mirrors.
Bull's-eye mirrors typically included less stylized frames, but some had detailed frames. Like Girandole mirrors -- sometimes the terms are used interchangeably -- bull's-eye mirrors are covered with gold leaf or bronze gilt or are made from imported hardwoods, such as ebony. The special convex glass used to make the mirror gave the mirror its name. Other Federal convex mirrors include the porthole mirror, named for its resemblance to ship portholes framed in brass.
Embellishments and Decorations
Even though the Great Seal with the American eagle was not adopted until June 20, 1782, many Federal convex mirrors included an eagle standing on a Corinthian, Doric or an Ionic column -- a Grecian column defined by a flat top and scrolls that curl under -- surmounted to the midpoint of the mirror frame at the top with branches or other decorative designs on either side of the column. Eagles were also used on European convex mirrors before America adopted it as its symbol. Other decorative embellishments on the round frame included leaves, flowers, pussy willows, round buttons, olive branches and wheat bundles.- Laurie Reeves, Information on Antique Federal Convex Mirrors (online July 2016)
Girandole, elaborate wall bracket incorporating one or more candleholders and frequently a mirror to reflect the light. An object of luxury, it was usually embellished with carving and gilding. Although the name is Italian in origin, girandoles reached the greatest heights of fashion (in the second half of the 18th century) in France and England. At the beginning of this period they represented the most exuberant expression of the Rococo.
The English cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale illustrated examples in the Gothic and Chinese taste in The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director in 1754. Ruined arches, Chinese temples and pagodas, Greek columns, scrolls, fountains, waterfalls, foliage, and animals were popular motifs. More restrained and delicate designs were used during the Neoclassical revival of the late 18th century.
- Encyclopędia Britannica (online July 2016)
Examples from Buffalo:
- Illustration above: Samuel Risman House