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Antique folk art dressing table looking glass with carved hand supports, probably cherry wood, c. third quarter 19th century. The mirror is distinguished by its unusual and dramatic carved pillars, which take the form of clenched hands and hold up the looking glass like arms. The inventive form and fine quality of the dresser mirror extends beyond the arms, however, with barley twist pilasters flanking the glass, a coved perimeter on the pedestal, paw-like feet, a curvilinear crest, and a thick beveled looking glass, all indicating the piece came from the workshop of a gifted woodworker.


With the hands holding the glass up to our face, you could say the piece is kind of like an analog “selfie.” But is the image we create within its frame really our own? Though you may believe the reflection in a mirror or the picture on an iPhone screen is of yourself–held up by your own hand and reflecting your true nature–this looking glass reminds us that the person you perceive as yourself in that reflection is not you or a person at all. Like Narcissus at the pool, we mistake the images of ourselves as real, and whether we love or hate what we see in those reflections, the images emerge from the silvered glass or glowing pixels as not representations of ourselves, but rather virtual extensions of our own identity. Poolside, we are consumed by the need to perfect the selfie, to seek approval of its curated pixels, and life becomes a filtered facsimile existing for the sake of its own reflection. Before this dressing table looking glass each morning, you prepare to present yourself to the world, and although it stays at home within the bedroom, you hold the mirror up to your face wherever you go, obscuring who you are from others and also yourself. The mirror reminds us not to mistake the shadows and light of an Instagram selfie or medicine cabinet mirror for who we are. The looking glass raises itself to our faces with hands we must not mistake for our own.



Excellent antique condition. A few very minor discolorations on the finished surface, and slight stress evidence on the back of the mirror where the pins connect to the hand supports, but solid and sturdy.



26 inches tall

13 inches deep

28 inches wide



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