Cheval Glass: A Study of Form and Attribution

Need a reason to go back to Boscobel? In addition to Shakespeare, GAC Sculptures, the Farmers’ Market and a variety of other special events on its calendar this year, Boscobel is presenting a uniquely, specialized house tour this summer with focus on its virtual showcase of furniture from renowned New York cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe. House tours through September 10 will conclude in the gallery with a limited-time exhibition curated by Judith A. Pavelock.

On display will be Boscobel’s own cheval glass – a “looking glass” which has reflected images as far back as 1820 &#8212- as well as a similar piece on loan from the Columbia County Historical Society and other related objects hand-picked from Boscobel’s collection to be showcased for an up-close and intimate inspection. Mirrors have a universal appeal, and this exhibition offers the chance to see an extraordinary piece of furniture – considered a chic, newfangled item in the 1800s – standing separately and spotlighted for all to enjoy.

“This behind-the-scenes exhibition is a rare opportunity to see select objects from Boscobel’s collection apart from our richly decorated period rooms and to see how we determine who made the cheval glass, even though it is not labeled and we do not know the history of its ownership,” says Pavelock.

The invention of the cheval glass, a type of tall dressing glass with a trestle base, was dependent upon technological improvements in glass making during the 16th century and the hundreds of 19th century journeymen and cabinetmakers who were inspired by designs they brought to New York City during a time when the economy was resilient, robust and competitive. In 1991, a cheval glass was donated to Boscobel without a maker’s label or history of ownership. It was attributed to the famous French emigre cabinetmaker of New York, Charles-Honore Lannuier (1779-1819).

This unique exhibition explores the origins and use of this specialized furniture form and how curators go about the process of attributing furniture to specific makers. Who made these looking glasses? Could the renowned New York master cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe have been involved in the production of any of these examples? Can the attribution to the famous Lannuier be sustained?

Boscobel visitors will have the opportunity to reflect upon these thoughts and more during the exhibit, Through the Cheval Glass: A Study of Form and Attribution, at no additional charge as part of their paid house tour admission June 17 – September 10, 2012.

Boscobel is a historic house museum, cultural venue and so much more. Located on scenic Route 9D in Garrison New York just one mile south of Cold Spring, Boscobel is directly across the river from West Point. From April through October, hours are 9:30am to 5pm (first tour at 10am- last at 4pm)- November & December 9:30am to 4pm (last tour at 3pm.) Boscobel is open every day except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information, visit www.Boscobel.org or call 845.265.3638.

Photo: Cheval Glass, New York City, 1820-1830, Collection of Boscobel

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