Pair Neo-Classical Pier Mirrors, about 1820
Eastern white pine, gessoed and gilded, with ebonized liners and mirror
Each, 65 1/8 in. high; 37 1/2 in. wide
Inscribed (on back of frame and backboard of each): Top
Just as the firm of Vose, Coates & Co. and, its successor, Isaac Vose & Son, monopolized a significant percentage of the high-end cabinetmaking trade in Federal Boston, so the firm of John Doggett & Company, of Boston, was the principal purveyor of frames for looking lasses, as well as for a whole range of pictures, from Gilbert Stuart portraits to embroideries made at Mrs. Saunders’ and Miss Beach’s Academy, in neighboring Dorchester.
Indeed, when John Davis Williams of Boston ordered a pair of pier tables from Vose, Coates & Company in 1818 (see Robert D. Mussey, Jr., and Clark Pearce, Rather Elegant than Showy–The Classical Furniture of Isaac Vose [Boston, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018], p.68 fig. 83), he also ordered from John Doggett (1778–1860) two pairs of gilt pier mirrors (Mussey and Pearce, p. 70), or looking glasses as they were often called, which are documented by a bill of sale dated August 13, 1818, now preserved in the Doggett Records at the Winterthur Library, Winterthur, Delaware. Those mirrors have not been identified, but a single pier mirror belonging to Williams’ brother-in-law Daniel Weld is known and is of the same design as the present pair of mirrors. It has been attributed to Doggett by Mussey and Richard Nylander (see “Opening the Interior: The Entrepreneurial Career of John Doggett” in Brock Jobe and Gerald W. R. Ward, eds., Boston Furniture 1700–1900 [Boston, Massachusetts: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 2016], pp. 296-97, 298 fig. 9) and dated to “ca. 1818,” and it is thus likely that the present mirrors also originated in the Doggett shop. Like the Weld mirror, both of the present mirrors have the word “Top” inscribed on one of the short ends of the backing of each.
Although no early history of the present pair of mirrors is known, it is not impossible that they are one of the missing pairs of the Williams mirrors, and that the matching Weld mirror is one of the second pair.