Inspired by the famed Italian iconographer, Cesare Ripa (c. 1555-1622), this French gold leaf mirror (circa 1850) is topped by a winged cherub and a globe, representing the Allegory of Geography. An allegory is an artistic (written or visual) rendering of an abstract idea, often with an obscure or implied meaning. In 1593, Ripa published his classic work, Iconologia, which was an alphabetical “dictionary” of Renaissance themes ranging from virtues to gods, with each entry having its own allegorical representation.
The shaped and beveled mirror is set within a gold leaf frame adorned with foliate motifs. A thin molding with a small leaf at the top immediately encompasses the glass. Similarly, there is a much larger curled leaf at the base, with a C-scroll-shaped cutout beneath it that is embellished with attenuated leaves. The foliate theme continues on the sides with two separate leaf carvings. Near the bottom is an S-scroll carving on each side with a volute whorl beneath a rosette with a leafed margent over a scalloped leaf background. A pair of large, curled leaves adorn the top, outside of C-scroll cutouts that flank an arched molding of thick gadrooning. The crown is comprised of a winged cherub sitting on a stylized cloud with a globe beside him, personifying Geography. Our gold leaf mirror representing the Allegory of Geography is a unique mirror from the period of Napoleon III that can be placed on just about any wall from a hallway to a library or study.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with light age separations. Eyelet in the back for hanging purposes. Minor losses, specifically to the allegory crown. Some rubs and losses to the gold leaf, resulting in the desirable appearance of red bole.