Looking glass


Object Place: England or America


Overall: 139.7 x 68.6 x 5.1 cm (55 x 27 x 2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Mahogany veneer, carved and gilded pine, glass

On View

Amelia Peabody Gallery (Gallery 137)




Looking glasses and mirrors

In gilding, the craftsman applied a thin layer of gold to a surface. In water gilding, he placed a warmed, powdered chalk and a glue-based gesso (a primer) on the wood surface. Then, a layer of bole (a glue-bound, ground clay) was added. Small sheets of gold leaf were applied to the moistened bole surface and often burnished with a stone. In oil gilding, the craftsman brushed a thin layer of drying oil (often colored) over the gesso ground, adhering the gold leaf to its surface. Oil gilding cannot be burnished and leaves a subtler, matte finish.

Credit Line

Gift of Eleanor Fayerweather